Thursday, July 28, 2011


Blatant publicity

Yes I am now going to do something rather shameless and float my own boat. As Google loves blogs, I am trying to gibe myself a helping hand by posting my site here.
As I also do freelance translation and writing, I have set up my site to publicize my contact details.
If anyone would like French to English translation, editing, proofing and suchlike, please visit my website:
(In English):
(In French):
I will be pleased to help you with your documentation needs.


Last sowings

It's now getting on for the end of July, the summer season is in full swing (or it would be if anything would ripen!) but you have to prepare now for later on. I admit that I don't grow a lot in winter, although I could if I was more prepared with polytunnels and fleece. However we have a fairly mild autumn so this year I have prepared some end of season sowings so that September is not the end of everything.
Yesterday I sowed a last row of French beans (beans this year have been utter crap so far! I think they hate changeable weather), late beets and carrots (Boltardy, Monotruba and Autumn king carrots), frisée for autumn salads, lamb's lettuce, coriander for some autumn curries and also some spring cabbage. All these in seed beds in the open which I will fleece if it seems to be getting too hot.

I also picked the first tomato! Shame that it had been rain damaged but I cut out the cracked spot and ate it in a sandwich and it was just fine - a Coeur de Boeuf. The fruit on the tomatoes is impressive, now if it would just turn red, we'd be laughing! I am always rather dismayed to see other people's tomato plants, almost stripped of their leaves to allow the few huge tomatoes on them to ripen. I would rather let the plant live, have smaller tomatoes but more fruit. I find that my tomatoes liver longer that way.
Noticed that most of the site is decimated by powdery mildew. I am rather pleased as my proactive efforts are paying off - the squash and courgettes are only mildly affected, I continue the milk drenches and pick off affected leaves and remove them. The courgette plants have loads of baby fruit! so cute!
Just need to tidy up the fruit bed now which is getting very weedy. Nice and sunny here today, maybe the tomatoes will agree to shed their greenness in exchange for a little sun!

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Monday, July 25, 2011


300 posts!

Woohoo, up to 300 posts! This will be rewarded by some pictures that I took yesterday in the garden.
Here, the weather is really crappy. Cold, wet. This is not really that good for the plants, although the raspberries are huge, as they have plenty of water, as are the tomatoes. Trouble is that without sun, nothing is ripe!

I worked hard yesterday weeding as best I could, actually I got a bit carried away with the time and lunch was late. Oh well. Not too much bindweed, but loads of annoying annuals, toadwort, fat hen, groundsel and bloody couch grass. I filled a wheelbarrow again. Tidied all round the cukes and melons and the tomato/aubergine patch. It does look better I must say.
There was some harvesting to be done yesterday: the first cucumber!

And a few courgettes, still slow on the takeoff. The Serpente di Sicilia have been tied up!

A few rasps and strawbs. The raspberries are very tall this year:

But the tomato harvest is still not forthcoming, even though the fruit is plentiful and swelling wondefully.

These will be the biggest fruit I have ever had. San Marzanos are in huge bunches! The gardener's Delight is laden with long rows of fruit, the MoneyMaker have trusses of 4 and 5 fruit, all round and perky, the Tigerellas are staring to produce big flushes of smallish striped fruit and the Marmande are flat, fat and wrinkled. But everything is resolutely, positively, depressingly green.

There are baby aubergines growing now, at least 3 of them. Including the Red Egg which are meant to give red fruit (but all it has for now is a funny plant shape). Don't worry, the invading grass on photo below is now but a memory.

Actually, I realised that two of the aubergines were completly shaded by the tomaotes, which had grown too lushly. SO I dug them up, rootball and all, and moved them into a more exposed place. I do hope this encourages them, they are tall and hardy but have no fruit yet. I also have several green peppers, which one day may turn red if the sun ever shows its face again.
The melons are doing well, obviously fleecing them was an excellent idea.

And the squash! So much fruit! Hopefully it will all have time to ripen, I have started pinching out the ends of the vines.
Turk's Turban:

Atlantic Giant:

Unknown, although I suspect it's a Qld Blue:

Here is a little overall view, unfortunately taken efore I had tidied it up a little. I find that most has gotten a little out of hand this year but as long as the veg are there it's ok. Left front in the kale, Brussels and the remainder of the spuds (still underground), right front is the squashes and beans,
back left was the onion patch, now has just a pumpkin and some stray tomatoes, back right is the tomatoes/peppers/aubergines/courgettes, with the fruit bed right at the back:

All in all, not such a bad year but now we desperately need some sun!

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Friday, July 22, 2011


Milk fungicide!!

The dreaded powdery mildew has struck again. It has been raining so much the last two weeks, we have hardly had any sun, so the mildew has started on the cucumbers and pumpkins. The courgettes seem OK for now...
In an attempt to find a solution, I did a bit of research and asked around and came up with...milk. Yes, it would appear that there is something in milk that doesn't cure the fungus but stops the spores spreading. So I made up a diluted milk solution and watered it all over the leaves of the cues and squashes. I can help wondering if it will not smell dreadful after a few days? Still, if it stops it spreading long enough to harvest, I will be grateful.
The cucumbers have a few fruit on them, one is about 30cm long but it is still a bit skinny. Hopefully the abundant rain will plump them all up a bit. The melons too have swelled - as they were fleeced and had had Bordeaux Mixture, they seem untouched by the mildew. We are finally eating the courgettes, but they are still a bit slow. I have discovered that a couple of them are those long Italian gourds! SO I have hoisted them up on stakes and tied them in. That will be fun to watch them grow!
The tomatoes are loaded with fruit but it's all green :-( Today has been brighter and full sun in forecast for the next week so I am hoping that our tomato harvest is just a step away.
Yesterday after the milky watering, I did some picking: a handful of strawberries, a courgette, 2 beetroot (finally!), a handful of kale leaves (the first ones, bubble and squeak this weekend!) and 2 sticks of rhubarb which seems to have picked up no end: it really suffered in the drought conditions. I won't pick anymore but I really wanted to make one more crumble before the end of summer. In fact I think the rhubarb is going to get a little haircut and a feed and be pampered a bit as it did look quite sad for a while there.
The harvest is slow but picking up bit by bit.

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Monday, July 18, 2011



That's what I was with the tomatoes over the 14 July break. No more Mr Nice Guy! I chopped off without mercy, excess branches, side shoots, anything that looked slightly dodgy. I tied and straightened and pruned. There are now loads of fruit forming but nothing that is actually ripe yet! I am having trouble keeping my patience in check!
Got the first courgettes, at last, the Striato d'Italia that I got in a seed swop, beautiful pale and dark stripes and a delicious flavour. But the Black Beauty is not far behind, and it has handsome fruit, very dark and shiny. I am a bit puzzled, as I also got a Serpente di Sicilia, but I was expecting a courgette bush: instead it is acting like a pumpkin vine??? Have to wait and see. Not even sure that they will actually be nice to eat.
The pumpkins are mad, I have several big fruit forming, and the vines are running riot. One of the Turk's Turban fruit is nearly ripe, it's quite a dark orange. My mystery squahs are turning out to produce longish pumpkins that for now are a yellowish colour (actually a bit like a spaghetti squash...). Unless they are melons.... but I think not. Speaking of which, I have widdle baby melons! The first ones ever! I have high hopes of them ripening! And I am close to picking the first cucumber, especially as we have had loads of rain so they should now soak up water like nobody's business.
All the onions have now been harvested. I got two wooden market crates full of onions and another full of echalote (now I have to dry, trim and package the bloody things, which takes ages). And I strung up around 30 heads of garlic which is now swinging joyfully in the pantry.
Beetroot - might actually be picking some soon! Victory! And the new sowings have done pretty well.
My autumn lettuce has germinated well, even though the seeds weren't all that fresh. A week or two and I will plant it out, under fleece to protect it.
I'd liek to take some pictures but Eldest Son has taken his camera on hols. So might have to wait till the weekend for that.
And when I wasn't torturing the tomatoes, I turned out the shed and tidied it. Well kind of. More like taking everything out, removing the cobwebs and putting it back. But i did throw some things away! And I can now actually enter the shed! Hoorah!

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Monday, July 11, 2011


Quick weekend visit

I did a casual weed but I didn't do as much as I should! But there is a public holiday Thursday and I will try and get a couple of hours in. We actually had a BBQ in the garden, although it was a bit blustery and the idiots on trail bikes in the field next door ruined the peace and quiet. Need to choose a better day I guess.
I tied up the cucumbers (ooooh they have widdle baby fruits! I am so thrilled! They are the first ones I have ever grown!!!) and the tomatoes, although they still need further tying in, they are completely rampant. Gave a feed to the squashes. melons, courgettes, cukes and gave them some Bordeaux mixture, as last year I had lots of mildew, and don't want the same thing again. I actually have melons! I did coddle them, they are fleeced, weeded and fed and looks like this was a good idea, there are at least 3 or 4 tiny fruit and the vines have loads of flowers.
Only harvested a handful of beans and a few onions, but I am almost ready for the main onion harvest (there are kilos and kilos of them this year!) and the first courgettes will be ready this week. Thank you Anya, from the A4A forum, they are your italian courgettes! Last in and first to give fruit!! I am still digging up the spuds, on the seconds now, the red Rosabelles, some are quite a good size. And there are a couple of beetroot that are ready, can't believe I have managed to grow some! The later sowings are also coming on well. Wish I could say the same about the carrots, they have germinated OK but still not a carrot big enough to eat :-( I fed them this weekend though and will keep watering them, hope springs eternal...

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Thursday, July 07, 2011


Still no crop!

With all the variations in rainfall and temperature, there is still little to show for in the way of crops, except the spuds (starting to hit the second earlies, orangey-red Rosabelles). I have dug up the garlic and echalotes which are drying in the shed, and on the next sunny day I can start to bring up the onions, their stalks are bent and many are already dried. The onion crop looks set to be excellent, good sized bulbs. The echalote was OK, most crowns had at least 6 echalotes of a fair size. Last years were bigger though, I think they too suffered from the unpredictable weather.
The squash is rampant, there is a fair sized Turk's Turban alredy on the vine and many other smaller fruit. I have pinched out one of the growing tips of the Atlantic Giant, I haven't found all the others yet!!!
The kale is doing very well, as are the Brussel Sprouts. The courgettes are finally showing tiny fruit, and the melons also have a couple of babies on them. Still nothing on the cucumbers but the vines are growing well.
The tomatoes are thick with foliage and flowers - there are several fruit forming now, I can see the distinctive stripes on the Tigerella fruit and the elongated shape of an Italian plum tomato. The Gardener's Delight are full of flowers and green fruit so won't be long now. I have beautiful purple flowers on some of the aubergines too. I feel they are the prettiest flowers of the cropping plants. A couple of tiny peppers can also be seen on the sweet pepper plants.
Yesterday in an hour, I did quite a lot of work, digging up spuds, garlic, echalote, watering a little, I even managed to do some sowing, filling in some holes in the French beans with Cobra and Fin de Bagnols beans, the last lot of carrots (Early nantes and Autumn King), and beetroot (I WILL get some this year if it kills me!) - both Cheltenham and Monorubra although for the former it is a tad late. And also some scarole lettuce (Cornet d'Anjou) and red scarole which is in quite a protected spot and I am hoping I have sowed at the right time. When the warm weather returns I will fleece that to protect it.
Now, I just need for the strawberries to start giving again and I will start to gain faith back!

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