Sunday, April 27, 2008

Early start

Saturday April 26th
As usual, I received my weekend early morning call from Alvin at around 6-30am.
After a hard night out hunting he comes and sits on the window ledge outside our bedroom and
wails to be let in.

Alvin. Better than any alarm clock.

It's a lovely sunny Saturday morning, a little on the cool side, but ideal for gardening. I've made a list of things to do so after a couple of cups of Rington's tea it's time to start...........

Plot 1

Plot 1. Corky's Winter Onions and even more onions.

There's been a radical change of plan here, I've decided to make this the onion patch. I didn't want an onion patch, I didn't need an onion patch but it's because of this little chappie...

The dreaded Carrot Beetle.

This is a Carrot Beetle and a whole swarm of them literally fell from the sky one evening in late spring of last year. I thought it was hail-stoning and went outside, armed with flashlight to investigate. I discovered that it was the noise from them hitting the shed wall, bouncing off and falling into Plot 1. By the following morning they had disappeared so I forgot about them.
Big mistake Mick!

That year I'd planted my potatoes in there and they were coming along great. Fine healthy plants with the promise of a good crop. I'd screwed up the year before, planting them in a location that ended up shaded as the trees over them flourished and cut off the sun. I had compounded the problem by overwatering. But these looked well. I was a happy man.

Then one of the plants fell over, then another, then another. No sign of disease or wilting. They simply fell over on their sides. I dug around and found scores of these black beetles huddled around the stem of each plant, about 2 inches below the surface, chomping away at my precious spuds plant stems. It was as if someone had taken a pair of scissors and snipped them through. I lost every plant.
I dug the plot over and got as many out as possible (but obviously not them all), moved my Pole Bean plants to the other end and got on with life.

So today, when I dug the plot over and found them still here I had an idea. I called round at Corkey's, picked up a dozen duck eggs from Mr Corky and liberated a few Winter Onion plants from their garden. These I planted along with some white onion sets so now any beetles that are still in there can eat onions if they like, not that they will of course. Perhaps by next year they'll be gone. Watch this space. But now I've lost room and will have to do some shuffling around.
Once the onions were in I planted my row of Sunflower seeds along the back.

Plot 2

Plot 2. Sunflower seeds are in. Watermelon later, hopefully.

The Red Onions along the front look a little on the wet side to say the least and I may lose them through rot. But who cares, it looks like there's going to be no shortage of onions this year.
I dug over the rest of the plot and planted my second row of Sunflower seeds along the rear edge.

Plot 3

Plot 3. Bell pepper and not much more here.

The Bell Pepper plants seemed to have settled in well and a few Romaine Lettuce seedling have popped through though not many yet. This plot seems to be really slow on the uptake this year, carrots, lettuce and radishes either not appearing at all or struggling and I dont know why? Hmmm, perhaps a change of plan is called for here too?

Plot 4

Plot 4. (l to r) Turnips, Spinach, Radish. Potted Basil hardening off.

The Turnips and Radish are doing fine. The Spinach plants are sparse but trying their best. I'll be pulling the Radish soon so maybe I'll try a few more Spinach seeds before the temps get too high. I let the potted Basil harden off a little as I worked.

Plot 5

Plot 5 showing traditional and deep straw mulching methods.

The potato plants are doing well. I hilled the front 5 in the traditional way and gave the rear 5 a thick covering of fresh straw. I raised the height of the floating row cover to give them a little more room and better air circulation.

Plot 6

This African Blue Basil will join the tomatoes in Plot 6

I gave this another forking over and weeding. The plan was to put the tomato plants in today but the forecast for Sunday night is pretty low so I'm going to wait until Monday. Then they are going in. Period! I also have an African Blue basil plant to put in with them as this did especially well last year and attracted lots and lots of bees. It grew like crazy and I ended up hacking huge sprays off and placing them in a vase on the dining room table so we could enjoy the aroma in the house. I also have some Spicy Globe which I've raised from seed. Although this doesn't have the same strong aroma as the African Blue it's better for cooking, having a strong spicy taste.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Beetles falling from the sky... OMG, I'd have been so creeped out!

I absolutely love basil and really enjoyed picking out several varieties at the farmers market a couple weeks ago. In with the tomatoes they went, and then I couldn't resist a packet of seeds for a bushy little fine-leafed variety. Maybe it's a little late for starting them, but they were just calling my name.