Back to the allotment this week for my Six on Saturday, with some successes and some utter failures!
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!
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!
Remember that mystery plant in my wild flower patch? I’m taking an educated guess that it’s some form of thistle!
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
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
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!
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:
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.
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.
Finally, we have Chocolate Spot, which is also caused by a fungus, but this is worse in cool damp conditions.
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!
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!
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.
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.