Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Total Allotment Time: 2 & 1/2 hrs
Principle Tasks: Lightly forking over soil newly exposed from under plastic sheeting to remove any remaining weed roots as in recent posts. Harvesting dwarf French beans. Weeding. Grubbing up phacelia green manure from temporary growing area.


Jimmy said...

Hi Tim
I have been off on a short holiday hence the non response to your postings. As usual you have been accelerating away from me and I have a lot to respond to. Firstly I have to disagree the identity of your Cardinal Beetle – I would say it is: Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva )
Not dissimilar, but not the same! PS, I have a beetle book so that helps.

I have to agree humus is the answer to healthy soil. I do not think it is an exact science as long as there is plenty of it, and the plants just thrive. The only reason I know for spraying anything and I am thinking of commercial crops here, is to prevent ergot which causes "St. Anthony's fire". I think I have only ever seen it once on a single stem of oats on a roadside on the Black Isle. We always used manure, all types and with great effect. Just for the record I believe the only plant which can stand neat pigeon manure is the plum tree. Rhubarb loves manure and I can see not reason for not putting on as much as you can get. I stuck some seaweed and all sorts of horse manure and cow dung into a big dustbin and put it in my shed where the summer temperatures soared and the whole mass “melted” down to a runny mess. It was “bowfin” but boy did it make things grow. The other problem was a huge number of small white flies came off this concoction. I do not know what they were but they were everwhere. I was a bit more cost concious than you as I went out on my bike ever day and shovelled up the hors d,ofors and took them back home for the bin. I had a small garden but it made up for it in height as it was the only direction to go. The little ditty was quite entertaining and I listened to it right through.

Your peas look super and I am jealous as I have none – oh woe. Peas are one of my favourite crops for just eating. Nice idea snail mailing the pests to a different location. I have an amazing crop around the house this year having never really noticed any before. I do not know where they have all come from but I toss them into my garden anyway and let them get on with it. Did I tell you I have a colony of Great Grey Slugs under our back door step. Limax maximus, they are very interesting to watch.

Aargh! No! please do not squish the caterpillars. If you look closely at the plants you will see they only eat the outer leaves and the cabbage remains unharmed. To help the plants combat the attach all that is necessary it to do what you already do and that is put on plenty of manure so that the plants can withstand the odd caterpillar. I cannot tell from the photograph for certain but if they are solitary green caterpillars they are probably Small White butterfly larva and they need all the help they can get. The Large White had a more gregarious group which does do more harm but hey what is one cabbage plant out of 30? It is the way gardens are meant to be.

The Phacelia should be adding a fair bit of bulk and humus to the soil so it will be ready for planting. Should you be considering sowing a green crop for over the winter? Three reasons, 1-It will help supress the weeds, 2- It will protect the soil over the winter from leaching of the good you have already done. (ie the crop will hold the nutrients.), 3 The crop will add to the fertility when dug into the soil in the spring.

Lupins – 0 Nothing germinated from my second sowing iether. I did however see the plants flowering on the roadside as I drove through Drumochter going down the A9. They are not visible from the road north as the two carriageways split and the north one is just too low.

I watched the final of the world cup, not because I was interested but because I was a captive audience and my host had the TV control. C’mon Scotland!!!

All the best

Tim said...

Thanks, Jimmy. No worries over the caterpillars. I had a quick look today and couldn't find any - I'm thinking that because I've encouraged birds into the garden, they've repaid me by helping me out. A relief, as I really didn't enjoy the thought of squishing them in any number (in future years I'm thinking netting will be the easiest solution, but you're right of course, healthy plants will withstand the odd nibble here and there). Cheers over the heads up with The Red Soldier Beetle, btw (I was being lazy again and relying on my oft-fragile memory/knowledge base).

Will continue to reply to this tomorrow, as I've let the clock run away with me again tonight, but thought to put your mind at rest over the 'pillars if you happen to visit meantime :o)

Best Regards,