Monday, May 28, 2007

Straw for Strawberries

Today we went and bought straw for the strawberries, pvc piping (like the kind used for electrical cabling) and netting.

I've erected one hooped cover for one garden bed (ironically, for the cauliflowers which still have an undetermined fate, but whom the ducks seem to think are extremely tasty), and covered it with netting. It looks really professional and quite tidy too. I'll take some photos and update tomorrow.

The pvc pipes cost 89c each and I'll be going back tomorrow or Wednesday and getting enough to do all the beds. I think it's the only sensible way to keep the ducks out of my plants!

The straw comes in 5 kg compressed vacuum sealed bags for about 5 euros a bag. You can buy uncompressed bales, but they're much bigger and I'd need to have the car commercially cleaned to get rid of all the dust!

I used one five kg bale to do both strawberry beds and give each squash and courgette plant a nice warm base. The gemsquash look like they grew about 5 inches since yesterday! The other bale is waiting to replenish the berries later in the season.

Vertine has some nice photos of all the 'protection' methods used on her allotment site to keep the birds out of the berries.

Today I'll be sowing some more dwarf beans here at home in 3 inch pots, transplanting some of my tomatoes to bigger pots. The ones that I showed you a week or so ago now have at least two flower trusses showing.

The difference in growth after they are transplanted to their final growing area is just incredible! The ones at the allotment are also looking pretty good.

Finally, my garlic looks as though it might be ready to harvest in about 2 weeks.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Club root on kohlrabi

Clubroot on Brassicas

So so disappointed ... I had a look at my kohlrabi this morning and something prompted me to pull two up. Sad to say that they seem heavily afflicted with clubroot. I didn't lime before planting and I have no idea what the gardener before me planted in the area that is now occupied by my cauliflower, cabbage and kohlrabi.

Apparently he planted brassicas. It seems I may have also shot myself in the foot by accepting seedlings from a fellow gardener - she may not have started hers off in sterile potting compost and the fungus could have been present even before they reached my garden.

You can see more pictures of the afflicted roots here.

Tomorrow I have the wonderful task of either going back and pulling out all of my brassicas to try and contain the spread or just leaving them alone and hoping for the best for the rest of this season.

Oh, and the three trays of broccoli and cauliflower seedlings I have here waiting to go in the ground? I guess they'll be ... not.

In the autumn I can heavily lime the brassica area, which will be a different patch in my rotation and then try again next year.

Here's another useful factsheet. And in case you wanted to know, clubroot is called 'knolvoet' in Dutch.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Not for all the Lovage in the world ...


Lovage or maggikruid in Dutch is a rather unassuming plant when you see it in the garden centre. They have it in these tiny pots and it looks like it would quite happily stay the same size forever. What an untruth!

Lovage tries to take over the world!

I didn't plant ours myself. It conveniently came up all on it's own, even though I had intended to buy one after reading that it's a 'beneficial to everything' companion plant, much like borage.

When the lovage started coming up in the spring I thought maybe we had something exciting, like asparagus. I asked someone and they told me what it was and I left it alone.

Until today that is, where I ruthlessly pulled it all up. Judging by how fast the little shoots have forced themselves up through the ground I'm sure it will be just as big in no time at all. It grows to 2 metres high!

It has an interesting smell, very clean and celery like. Brad wasn't so keen - he said it stinks!

I also paid Sebastian 2 euros to weed the onion bed and carry the weeds to the compost bin. He had to do it without complaining in order to get paid. And he did! I also trimmed the dead wood out of the black and redcurrant bushes, and we removed some growth from the plum tree which appeared infected with a virus of some kind. Then we covered the strawberries with a net to save the first strawberry from the birds. We laid some slug traps using milk.

My onions and garlic are starting to yellow. I can't believe it's time already, is it?

I am still unsure whether these are black or redcurrants ...

More May photos here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The tomato plantation

Tomato Plantation

My tomatoes seem fine. I transplanted six of the Orange Berry into pots and their leaves immediately stopped turning downwards. I think that the downward turning leaf problem was definitely a signal that they didn't like being root bound, not that they were suffering some heinous sort of wilt. So physiological and not disease.

The ones with the brown spots on the leaves are doing quite fine in isolation and now that they are out of the rain has stopped the leaves have stopped spotting up.

The six other Orange Berry absolutely have to be transplanted to the garden. I'm thinking of doing that tomorrow and covering them with fleece to keep them warm. The balcony is a good deal warmer than the allotment site as we don't get the wind directly off the open polder here.

Patrick came over yesterday bearing bounteous quantities of tomatoes! In return he took only one Red Pear. I hope it bears well for him!

My tomato collection has been swelled with the following (thanks Patrick!):

Black Pineapple
Black Prince
Silvery Fir Tree
Matt’s Wild Cherry
Sugar Cherry Currant
F2 Hybrid, Ida Gold x Whippersnapper

You can read more about these on Patrick's blog entry about them

Added to my:

Gardener's Delight
Costoluto Fiorentino
Red Pear
Orange Berry

(No affiliation with any of the suppliers listed above, I just used the first that came up with a usable link.)

Of the tomatoes Patrick gave me I'll keep all but the currant tomatoes here on my balcony, or at the allotment in pots. The others that I have in trays will be divided between the garden and the balcony. The heirloom varieties will need bigger pots - I'm thinking 40 cm and upwards.

As for the garden itself. I was up there twice yesterday and didn't do much except look. It's wet. Very wet.

Next week there is dry weather forecast so I'm going to use the medieval tool that the association owns to earth up my potatoes. It's sort of like a v-shaped spade on a long pole that you pull between the rows and it throws up earth on either side of itself.

I'm very excited to see that my Contender dwarf beans have flowered and now have baby beans on them. Likewise the peas are at a stage where we can eat a few peas every time we visit the garden. I'm desperate for the space currently hosting the potatoes, onions, garlic and shallots. Roll on June/July!

You can see some pictures from the garden here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Spots on Tomatoes and Spots on Bugs

I haven't been to the garden this weekend yet, so no nice pictures to show you unless you're interested in 7 year olds playing football! No?

I did some research because my tomatoes, healthy up until yesterday, suddenly developed little spots on some of the leaves. I found a wonderful website entitled the 'Tomato Problem Solver'. Perfect!

The other website I found which I thought I should bring to your attention is the Harlequin Ladybird Survey website for the UK. We have Harlequins here in Holland and I don't like them much. Nothing at all like a Harlequin Romance, these bugs actually eat other native ladybirds!

I've seen some 7-spot ladybirds, but recently the Harlequins have been more prevalent. Larvae of both sorts of bugs is peculiar looking! Who would have thought a ladybird came out of such an evil-looking larva?

My tomato problem seems to be bacterial speck, or Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato, thanks to all the rain we've been having. I've removed the affected leaves and isolated the plants. Let's hope it doesn't spread.

Tomorrow I'll be in the garden making sure the slugs didn't eat absolutely everything that's growing.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

What the garden did on vacation

Came back from vacation and first thing on Saturday we were at the allotment. The committee had made sure my garden was watered and I was amazed to see how everything grew while we were gone! The weeds grew too!

Some new photos to show you what I mean.

A beautiful butterhead lettuce. This one was a seedling from the garden centre.

Close up of the beautiful lettuces

We ate one just like it for supper tonight with a chilli vinaigrette, chopped tomato, feta cheese and sliced carrot. Oh, and the best kebabs ever! Marinated in a ginger, garlic, maple syrup and vinegar marinade. Mmmmm...

One of the Salad Bowl lettuces planned for dinner tomorrow. This lot was sown indoors back on the 3rd March.

Salad Bowl Lettuce - Red

First pea pods, sown indoors on 3 March. Don't they look just like peas in a pod?

Pea pods

A cauliflower surrounded by some purple kohlrabi. The idea is to harvest the kohlrabi as golf ball sized fruit and then pull them out, leaving the cauliflowers the rest of the space.

These cauliflower are remarkable because they were eaten almost down to the ground by the ducks before I made my cunning chicken wire enclosure for them! They've recovered wonderfully. The chicken wire is off and they now have pirate flags protecting them from errant fowl. I'm hoping the pirates on the bunting will prove even more chillingly frightening to the ducks. Pity you can't threaten ducks with walking the plank.

The caulis were from the garden centre and the kohlrabi from my neighbour. Don't they look beautiful together?


Blackberries in bloom. I'm thinking ... JAM!

Blackberry flowers

A procession of cows on the polder:

A Row of Cows

I wonder what they were doing? Do you think one said 'follow me' and the rest did? Maybe the two behind have co-dependent personalities. Maybe the one in front is a dictator. Psychology among cows... I'm sure someone's studied it.

I also replanted some tomatoes to 10 cm pots, bought some compost to replant the rest, potted on some calabrese (broccoli), planted more lettuce in a tray, weeded my entire plot, tried out the new sprinkler, and then tidied up everything and brought it home because tomorro, after 45 days of drought, it's going to rain!