Friday, 29 August 2008

Growing organic

Crop updates, flea beetles, wildlife in the allotment.

Planted cime, barbe di frate, and phacelia on the onion bed. The fennel has not recovered from transplant yet and is pretty wilted, but I am optimistic.

There are three more crops now on, which I did not mention yesterday.

First of all, the black sweetcorn (the only organic seed for sweetcorn I could find): it is doing pretty well.

Then my salad. Salad was very exciting in the beginning as it is such a quick crop and I must say it is not doing bad even now, although it has had its ups and downs. I planted lettuce, radicchio and rocket plus some mixed salad seed.

A dry spell saw all the brassicas including rocket shrivelled with tiny holes. I was wondering about the mistery pest when a visit to Riverford farm provided the answer: flea beetles. These creatures apparently thrive in crumbly soil so my compost base to the bed was a bad idea. After that, a wet spell meant that most of my beautiful lettuce and a whole row of radicchio went sacrificed to the slugs, and now it is the turn of cabbage white butterfly caterpillars on the brassicas again!

Finally, tomato. I planted them late and the wet spell (two weeks' raining) left the ones outside in a pitiful state as they developed white mould and then died. I have managed to pick only two (but delicious!) of tomato tomarvellous. Luckily I have a greenhouse, and the tigerella tomatoes inside seem to be doing well. Unlike the other Solanacee: chillies, peppers and aubergines have proved a little disaster.

On a totally different note, yesterday I found an amazing caterpillar (Vapourer Orgyia antiqua) and a frog. Hope the frog takes residence in my pond!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Almost one year

Crop updates, misterious finding.

It is almost one year since I got my allotment, but before I can sit and reflect on progress, there are some crops that I can still plant: barbe di frate and cima di rapa quarantina so I have to hurry digging the beds before it's too late (one year and I still have not finished digging the allottment through).

Besides, I have to clear the onion bed and plant green manure before it gets all weedy again.

Last time looked like fish skin but without scales, white and grayish, wettish... I could not disentangle it but I guess it might be some sort of snake skin - although I had never seen a so-to-speak 'fresh' one - or maybe it is leftovers from a rat's burrow; neither option is too exciting though!

Anyway, today the sun has come out - albeit timidly - so I am going now to try and do all I can and to check on the Florence fennel I have transplanted. It was too thick and I never have the heart to thin out seedlings and throw the weak ones away.

Crops now on: leeks (some of it just transplanted), potatoes (what is left of my summer crop), beans (flowering now), fennel and parsley, herbs (I have quite a big patch), courgettes (although the slugs are feisting on them) and pumpkin/courgette flowers (delicious and nutritious in an omelette, or deep fried in batter).