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

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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

     

National Stationery Week – Make a Note Day

Did you know that today is not only the start of National Stationery Week, but is also Make A Note day? I set out with good intentions each year to write a note in an allotment diary, so I know what was planted when, and how each plant fared on the plot… but I never manage to complete an entire year’s worth of entries – it always fizzles out in May (or sometimes before)!

This year, a friend surprised me with a fancy hand-made allotment journal, and I’m determined to keep it updated all year long. She made sure I had plenty of pages, and the ring binding means I can swap pages around to give myself more space for the summer months when there should be more to write about – there’s no excuse to not fill in as much detail as possible.

I haven’t (yet) managed to draw out an accurate plan of the entire allotment plot. The sides taper in towards the base of the plot, so it’s not something that is easily drawn out on the computer, and requires slightly more accurate measuring than just pacing it out like I did previously. I do have some plans of small sections though, and those will be drawn onto grid paper in the journal, so I have an idea of the dimensions of each bed.

Part of the failure of my previous diary attempts was the lack of bulletpoint references for each month. Trying to check when something was planted, required skimming through pages to find a slight mention of the right seeds. The advantage of a journal like this, is the calendar page at the beginning of each month, for a quick-check reference to what we did when. Each month also has a handy tab on the side, so it’s simple to find the right section.

But a journal is no good on its own – you need a comfortable pen to use in it. And true to form, I can’t just decide on one favourite pen… I actually have three! Eventually I’m aiming on the pens having different coloured ink in each, but at the moment both Parkers are using blue ink cartridges.

  1. First up we have a fine-nib Lamy All-Star in Black Purple with black ink, with a handy way of checking how much ink is left without having to unscrew the pen.
  2. next is an old favourite which recently went back to Parker to have the standard medium nib swapped for a fine nib – a 2006 Parker IM (also known as Parker Profile, Vector mkII, or Parker XL!) in Amaranth Purple, with blue ink. The assistant in the stationery shop claimed he didn’t recognise this pen when I took it in to buy a fine nib, but to my amazement Parker was willing and able to to exchange the nib for free (even though it was obviously older than the 28 day limit for their Nib Exchange Programme).
  3. and last but not least, a new Parker Jotter with a fine nib courtesy of the Parker Nib Exchange at my local stationery shop. This one will eventually have purple ink once I can track it down – so far I’ve only been able to find it online!

Parker nibs are slightly wider than Lamy, so the fine Parker is verging on medium when comparing the two… but the medium Parker was so thick and heavy it just reminded me of my school handwriting – my style has developed a lot since then!

So for all those allotmenteers and gardeners out there, if you don’t already keep a good old-fashioned style journal, maybe National Stationery Week is a good excuse to get yourself a new notebook, turn off the computer, and start writing!


National Stationery Week
#natstatweek
#writingmatters