Six on Saturday – September 15th

Following on from last week, I admit to cheating with the other 6 photos I took then – welcome to my Spider Web Six on Saturday – take two!


2. 

3. 

4. 

5. 

6. 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!



Six on Saturday – September 8th


Not the best 6 for any arachnophobes out there, but I’ve tried hard to not have any spiders in the photos! Welcome to my Spider Web Six on Saturday, seeing as there were at least 6 webs in the garden at the same time!

2. 

3. 

4. 

5. 

6. 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – August 25th

I don’t think the weather knows if it’s meant to still be summer, or if it’s autumn – at the moment it’s 14C and raining….
Anyhow, welcome to my Six on Saturday

  1. …. “I won’t bother taking the ball of twine to the allotment, there’s nothing to tie back”…

…next time, I’m going to take the twine with me to tie up that blackberry before I trip over it!

2. The strawberries are approving of the more seasonal weather – even “disaster land” has revived in places! I need to untangle a lot of the runners for Just add Cream and Snow White, and sort out the escapee that seems to have sneaked out through the net…

Top raised bed – newest strawberries and chives
“Disaster Land” which seems to be looking quite healthy in places!
Fancy Strawberries – I need to untangle all those runners…
Strawberry Escapee…

3. We’ve finally had some success with the radishes – admittedly not as many as we should have, given how they’re meant to be “easy to grow”. If only the Florence Fennel would show signs of growth now (that’s meant to be a line next to the radishes)…

Oops – think we should’ve picked the radish on the right a week ago at least!

4. I will admit I’ve been neglecting my flower patch – I sprinkled a few nasturtium seeds earlier in the year and it was watered in the hot weather, but other than that it’s been left to fend for itself. It seems to be doing well though, and the penstemon survived my brutal ‘pruning’ after the snow we had in March!

5. We know there have been badgers spotted in the allotment site for a while, but I’ve always been confused why the badgers didn’t seem interested in the ants (apparently ants are a badger’s favourite food…)…
Well wonder no more, they’ve dug into the ant hills on the allotment path, and stripped it of ants completely!

I’ll be digging some of that soil off and using it elsewhere on the plot – that’s nice and fine, instead of my clay-like soil in other parts of the plot!

6. In my hope to make the raspberries easier to pick, I started thinning some of the plants – they grow semi-wild, so I’ve been letting them grow as they want… only trouble is that doesn’t leave me a path through the middle to pick any!

Raspberry jungle
Raspberry jungle

I’ve got bare soil in places (yay!), but that’s given me an idea for next time I work on the allotment – I’m going to try hoeing the ground under the raspberries to see if I can clear the dead leaves and also loosen the soil that the grubs are in. If the badgers are hungry for ants, they might take a liking to those pesky grubs too!

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm raspberries (plus a few strawberries still)

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Not a Six on Saturday – August 18th

Ok, before we start, I will admit this isn’t a real Six on Saturday… mainly because I have the grand total of three photos, and one topic to type about! But as nobody I’d asked online had come across this before, I’m hoping it’ll make for an interesting read, so welcome to my Not a Six on Saturday!

Mention the word “raspberries” and I’m sure most of you are already picturing a big bowl of fresh red fruit, maybe with a healthy helping of clotted cream to go with it? That’s true (and very tasty!), but what if your raspberries are looking more like this…

Signs of Raspberry Beetle

The first year we noticed this, we wondered what on earth we’d done wrong, thinking it must have been a watering problem, or lack of feed! But no, that kind of nasty dried-up edge is a classic sign of Raspberry Beetle (which incidentally can also affect blackberries, although thankfully they don’t seem to have discovered my blackberry bush).

The beetles lay eggs on the raspberry flowers from May to mid July, but it’s the larvae  / grubs that do the damage – they feast on the fruit (causing that dried up look), moving into the middle of the fruit, before dropping into the soil when they’ve eaten enough. 
They then spend the winter in the soil before starting the whole cycle again in the spring. 

Because of the seasons the grubs are active, they mainly cause a problem for summer raspberries… mine are autumn raspberries, so only the first month of crops are affected – once we get to the second week or so in August, the problem stops until next year.

It’s surprisingly challenging to get a photo of a Raspberry Beetle grub, but I did find one that was co-operative (well, as co-operative as a pest can be!):

The Raspberry Beetle grub

I’ve not yet found a way of solving this problem… I read some things which mentioned chemicals (I try to stick to organic methods, so chemicals aren’t an option); and somewhere else had suggested “loosening the soil in the autumn so the birds can eat the overwintering larvae” – that would work if we actually had birds visiting the allotment, as the deer and badgers don’t seem interested in eating those grubs!

This year we’ve tried to remove any raspberries which were affected, and those berries have gone in the garden waste bin – I don’t want to risk composting those berries in case the grubs survive (I had mint growing in my compost bin after all, so I know it’s probably not quite hot enough in there to kill everything off) and just cause more of a problem next year!

Have you ever encountered Raspberry Beetle? And if you have, how did you manage to resolve it / work around it?

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!


Want to read more (really?) – check out the RHS page for a bit more info on those pesky Raspberry Beetles

Six on Saturday – August 11th

What happened to last week? I’m sure the weeks are flying past quicker than I can count at the moment! Anyhow, welcome to my Six on Saturday.

  1. First we have the allotment Cucamelon plant.
    My ‘gardening assistant’ (dad) had told me there weren’t any Cucamelons growing yet… I think he must have missed all of these!
    .
  2. On to the strawberries in three different raised beds now, and first we have the top raised bed which has a few of my original Strawberry Something-or-other (there’s two or three left after the majority died), plus this year’s additions of Sweet Collossus, Florence and Beltran.
    Moving on to the third raised bed, the Snow White plants are looking really healthy (and sending out runners)…

    Just Add Cream shares this raised bed, and I’m going to have to sort out these runners, otherwise I’ll get in a muddle with which plant is which!

    Moving on to the second raised bed, and Strawberry Something-or-other really isn’t happy – using the square foot gardening idea, I had 36 plants in here last year, and now I have about 5 or 6 plants…

    .
  3. Runner Beans tend to work really well on our allotment, providing we net the base to stop the Roe Deer nibbling the young plants. The bean plants don’t seem quite so leafy this year though, but maybe that’ll be a positive, as it should mean they aren’t heavy enough to bring the bamboo supports down!
    .
  4. Moving on to Raspberry Jungle, I did some thorough weeding in here this week. The grass might not have grown with all the blazing hot sunshine we’ve had, but the bindweed is proving to be even more of a pain than usual.

    Wondering why I call it Raspberry Jungle? This is the “weeding view” of the raspberry patch…

    They’re Autumn raspberries, but they grow semi-wild across part of the allotment site, so I’ve no idea what variety they are.
    .
  5. Something a little less wild-looking is my mini celery patch. It seems to have taken a little while to get going (I bought the plug-sized plants from Homebase earlier in the year), but hopefully now we’ve had some less-hot weather, they’ll grow quicker!

    And if my Mum is reading this, yes I will try and get a better (straighter) edge to this bit before the grass grows too much!
    .
  6. And finally the blackberries have finished, but it proved that our new blackberry support was worth making – we had loads more fruit than in all the previous years combined!
    I know this is a crazy angled photo – it’s the only way I could get all the blackberry plant in one shot!

    I just need to check when to prune the branches back, and also get the new growth tied into the supports ready for next year!

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – July 28th

Ok, I will admit this is kind of bending the Six on Saturday rules – rather than 6 things in the garden at the moment, I’ve gone for 6 stages of cucamelons seeing as it’s the first year I’ve tried growing them.

  1. We started off buying some Cucamelon seeds from Chiltern Seeds

    Unknown to us, the seedlings will go through periods of growth, then stop for a while.
    .
  2. Frustrated with the lack of growth from the seedlings, we decided to ‘cheat’ and buy a Cucamelon plant.

    .
  3. The ‘cheating Cucamelon’ was split – one plant from the pot went down to the allotment, and the other was put in a pot in the garden. The 6′ canes seemed excessive given the size of the plant initially, but it’s now taller than the canes!

    .
  4. A relative offered to tie the cucamelon to the canes, but with these long tendrils there’s no real need – I nudged the stem towards the cane and it just seemed to latch on easily.

    .
  5. We have flowers!

    (followed by a “quick take a picture before they fall off” comment from a sceptical friend!)
    ….and quite a few cucamelons forming now as well!  They’re not big enough to harvest yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what they’re like.

     .
  6. And of course now the ‘cheating Cucamelon’ is getting on so well, the seedling is growing strongly (although it’s got a long way to go before it reached the height of the ‘cheating Cucamelon’. This one will be put into a larger pot this week hopefully.(it had actually wrapped itself around the watering can…. that’ll teach me to not get the plant supports sorted out!)

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – July 21st

Now the extra-hot weather has died down a little, it’s back to the allotment again for my Six on Saturday!

  1. I don’t know if it’s just down to the weather, or that we’ve got the blackberry on a support this year so it’s not trailing the ground…. but whatever the reason, we have loads of fruit this year!

    And so far, it looks like the deer have left it alone, so there’s no need to net it 🙂
    .
  2. This is the first year I’ve tried growing cucamelons – the seeds germinated, but seemed to stop growing so we invested in a plant from the garden centre….

    We split that plant into two, so one piece is on the allotment and the other is in a pot in the garden. In the end, the seed-grown plants started growing again too (apparently that’s normal for them to pause growth if they’ve not got quite the right temperature or moisture).
    One of the plants grown from seed has died, but we still have one seed-grown plant left too,so that will be heading to the allotment tomorrow to join this one!
    .
  3. I don’t know what happened with my “original” strawberry plants this year – I started out with about 40 plants across two raised beds….

    ….and now have about 10 left as the others have all died off. These were runners saved from previous years, so I wouldn’t have thought they would be ‘tired’ and in need of replacing just yet.
    In contrast, my “fancy strawberry bed” is proving more successful – Just Add Cream (which is meant to produce more fruit and less runners) is sending out runners, and Snow White has runners which have already rooted!  I’m hoping this will bode well for next summer!

    .
  4. The gooseberry bush is a great success this year – whatever ate the berries from it last year seems to have left it alone, as we’ve had plenty to pick.

    .
  5. Onto the peas and beans, and I think the peas have definitely gone over now….

    ….we did get plenty of peas from them though, so compared to other years I’d class that as a definite success!
    The runner beans have taken off like rockets – I think I need to take a stool with me to the allotment next, to reach the tops of the canes in order to nip the growing tips off!

    .
  6. And to finish, how about a mini game of “spot the creature in the compost bin”? This Slow Worm was pretending to be a stick, so I’ve added in an arrow to make it easier to spot!

    They seem to like that particular compost bin – I’ve never spotted one in either of ourother bins.

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – June 30th

Back to the allotment this week for my Six on Saturday, with some successes and some utter failures!

  1. First up is a semi-success – I replanted a lot of my original strawberry plants, and unfortunately most haven’t survived. However, the new strawberry plants seem to be making up for it (Sweet Collossus and Just Add Cream have several runners).

    If only I could stop whatever’s eating a hole in the net getting in and pinching the strawberries before I can pick them!
    .
  2. Next we have an annual semi-disaster, which resolves itself by the time these autumn fruiting raspberries are meant to bear fruit…
    Yes, that’s raspberry beetle grubs yet again 
    But looking at the raspberry jungle, I’m hopeful that once we get past summer fruiting season, the autumn fruits will be grub-free!

    .
  3. Remember that mystery plant in my wild flower patch? I’m taking an educated guess that it’s some form of thistle!

    .
  4. The celery’s been planted out, and looks like it’ll grow well – maybe it’s a bit hot for that to grow too much this week

    .
  5. A complete disaster next, the Broad Beans had blackfly (Black Bean Aphid), Pea and Bean Weevil, Rust and Chocolate Spot… but that did give me a chance to write a blog post on it

    .
  6. And to finish on a success, this is just part of the blackberry bush.

    I think I can safely say it approves of the support we made for it this year, as there’s shed loads of fruit forming!

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Blooming Broad Beans….

We’ve grown Broad Beans on the allotment every year – I plant some seeds directly on the allotment in late October / early November, and the rest are sown in pots at home in late February, ready to be planted out in the spring.

Generally speaking, the second batch of beans gets caught with Black Bean Aphid (blackfly), whereas my first crop are fine. This year however, was a bit of a disaster…

According to my vegetable books, Broad Beans can suffer from four main problems:

    1.  Black Bean Aphid which suck the sap from the plant. Ants then gather to feed on the sugary residue, and also eat the larva of ladybirds, so there’s less predators for the aphids.

      .
    2. Pea and Bean Weevil munch notches around the outside of the leaves, making them look serrated.
      Signs of Pea and Bean Weevil – they chomp notches into the edges of the leaves. Plus an ant as a result of a Black Bean Aphid infestation.

      .

    3. Broad Bean Rust certainly lives up to its name – there’s no mistaking this on the plant! This is caused by fungus, and apparently isn’t as damaging as chocolate spot, but can cause the plant to be left with no leaves. Leaving more space between plants is said to reduce the chance of rust by increasing the airflow, as is avoiding damp and humid sites. These broad beans are on an exposed north / northeast facing sloping site so I’m surprised they were so badly affected. However, the spores can survive over winter, so this could easily be the result of a previous year’s damp weather.

      .
    4. Finally, we have Chocolate Spot, which is also caused by a fungus, but this is worse in cool damp conditions.
      The round browny circle on the leaf to the bottom left is Chocolate Spot. A combination of all four problems would appear to have seen off any chances of this broad bean plant producing edible beans

      Chocolate Spot not only can overwinter in the soil if infected plant matter was left to rot, but can also lurk in seeds – another good reason to not save seed from any plants which might have been affected!

     

  1. Overall we have four out of four, and indeed a couple of plants have all four problems themselves. By the time the plants are at this stage, there’s no real hope for them, so today we’ll be pulling up all the affected plants and binning them. We have picked some broad beans from the decent plants, but Mum described them as “small” and “stunted” so I need to look closely at every plant and check if it has a problem or not, before deciding if it’s allowed to stay!
  1. I have no idea what this is on the bean leaf, but after looking closely at the infestations on the other Broad Beans, I can’t imagine this is a positive!

    After clearing those Broad Beans, I’ll feed the ground to ensure there’s plenty of nutrients, and sow the Florence Fennel seeds I bought earlier in the year.

  1. Next year we’ll take a break from growing Broad Beans so I’ll be browsing through the seed catalogues to try and pick something more suitable to grow.

     

Six on Saturday – June 16th

Something a bit different for my Six on Saturday this week – we took a wander through a local Church’s ‘quiet garden’, so here’s six we spotted there (or at least there and on the walk back home!).

  1. First up we have some sort of Iris…. I really wish they had some plant labels on these!

    .
  2. Next up is a Rosa Glauca (thanks Mum for identifying that one!), which I wouldn’t have recognised as a rose at all….

    .
  3. One plant I can definitely identify is this Oriental Poppy, which was surprisingly hard to get a photo with accurate colours – the strong sunlight made it a bit bright for the camera!

    .
  4. Daisy something-or-other (yes that is the technical name, honest!)… and can anyone identify the insect sitting on it?

    .
  5. Ok, this one is cheating slightly as it was in an unofficial ‘wildflower area’ (in reality, the only wild flower in a grassy area the council haven’t bothered mowing). According to my Mum’s wildflower book, this is Fox and Cubs which is a pretty odd name, but quite a nice looking plant!

    .
  6. And another ‘cheat’ to finish – on the walk back from the garden, we went the scenic route and came across a lot of flying insects on the wildflowers in the grass verge.  
    I haven’t a clue what plant this is, other than it being an umbellifer (the flowers / stems look like an upside-down umbrella)…

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!