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Allotment Garden August Extra 2021

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison

Dear Friend

I made a mistake in my last newsletter. I mentioned the good weather we’d been enjoying here and immediately I did that, it changed. We did need a good downpour as things were getting very dry but I’m missing the sunshine.

I also mentioned the Met Office climate change report in my last newsletter and shortly after the IPCC report on climate change came out. It makes grim reading. There’s not a lot we can do as individuals to solve the world’s problems but if we all do what we can it will help.

Home grown and local foods are simply better for us and the planet. Yesterday we had French beans with our dinner that were harvested minutes before. You can’t get fresher than that!

I put my thoughts on the IPCC report in a post here: Climate Change

Caterpillars

This year the cabbage white butterflies seem to be everywhere. They may be pretty as they flutter about the plot but their aim is to lay their eggs under the leaves of your brassicas.

We’ve three lines of defence.

Netting

Butterfly netting can be laid over hoops or even a framework of bamboo poles to keep the butterflies from getting to the plant. Be aware that if the netting is laid on the plants the butterflies will lay their eggs through the gaps, so make sure to keep the nets above the leaves.

Butterfly Netting at Harrod Horticultural

Egg Removal

Some always find their way through so check as best you can under the leaves for the small clusters of yellow hexagonal eggs. Just rub them out with finger and thumb. A bit yucky but it won’t hurt you.

Get the caterpillars

The moment you see holes appearing in the leaves or see a caterpillar, deal with it. There are sprays you can use but they’re easy enough to sort without resorting to a pesticide. Just pick them off by hand, they don’t bite. Neither do cabbage white caterpillars have irritant hairs on them like some species. I knock them off into a pot and then dump the contents into the chicken run. No chickens? Just add water and drown them.

As long as the bulk of the leaves aren’t eaten, your brassicas will recover and crop well.

It may be difficult for caterpillars this year, but things could be worse. In 1846 passengers on a cross-Channel boat found the sun obscured for hundreds of yards by a cloud of cabbage whites flying from France to England.

In the last year of the war, 1945, another massive swarm of butterflies invaded from France. Later, many farmers and home growers in the south east of England found their brassicas being reduced to skeletons. It gave the children some extra pocket money, being paid for the butterflies caught and caterpillars picked.

See December in my Dig for Victory

Last Chance for Carrots

If you move quickly, you can pinch an extra crop of carrots by sowing an early (fast) variety like Early Nantes, or Amsterdam Forcing.

Keeping Cauliflowers

If you find yourself with two or three cauliflowers ready at the same time, this tip I got from a show grower will help. Show growers have a difficult time in getting the crop just right at the same time as the show is held. This is one of the tricks they use to put the perfect cauli on the bench.

Take your cauliflower and trim the leaves back but leave it as if for a show or shop shelf for that matter. Wrap tightly in cling film to exclude any air and keep in the fridge’s salad box. It certainly keeps well for a month and my pal reckoned they were still show grade after six weeks.

Cucumbers

It may be a little late if you’ve a cucumber taking over the greenhouse but you can bring them under control even now by pruning. Like tomatoes, a job that’s best done little and often. There’s an article on that here: How to Prune Trailing Cucumbers

And don’t forget to check out the article on feeding cucumbers. Swapping from the oft recommended method of just using tomato fertiliser to a regime higher in nitrogen will improve growth and yield. How to Feed Cucumbers – Best Feed to Use, NPK Etc.

Tired Tomato Plants

If your tomatoes are fruiting well but the plants are looking a little tired or leaves are yellowing, try swapping from a high potash feed to a high nitrogen feed like Miracle Gro or S-Chelate 12 Star for a week. This should give them a boost and restore them.

Curled Tomato Leaves

I often get emails from new growers worried that the leaves on their tomatoes have curled or rolled up. So long as the plants have water and feed, don’t worry about it. It’s a reaction to hot days and cool nights most likely and in my experience isn’t a problem.

Runner Beans

With a bit of luck the runners will be at the top of the poles by now. If you pinch out the leader it will encourage bushing out below and you’ll get more beans. Keep picking the pods before the beans develop inside the pods because once they do develop, production slows down.

Omlet Voucher Offer – Last Chance

Omlet are best known for their fantastic chicken coops but they also supply a wide range of pet products and housing. We’ve negotiated an exclusive voucher which is valid until 31st August of 10% Off all orders.

Just use the code CHICKAG10 at the checkout.

Omlet Web Site

It’s always nice to hear back from readers but please understand we’ve a lot going on that I’m trying to keep up with. I really can’t reply to everyone but I do read all the emails that I’m sent.

If you need advice, why not ask on our help forums where there are lots of experienced gardeners who can assist you.

That’s it for now, I hope you’ve found this newsletter useful. The next newsletter will be early September.

Good Growing but above all, keep well

John

Allotment Garden

Fron Dirion, Clogwyn Melyn,
CAERNARFON
LL54 6PT
Wales

Allotment-Garden.org

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