Wednesday 6 August 2008



It's been incredibly hot today. The Meteo says there will be storms but wave after wave of thin clouds roll over, blanking the sun for half an hour and then they pass away again, leaving breathless heat behind them.

The last few years have worried us a bit, each summer seems to have fewer and fewer examples of wildlife on the farm. This year we have only one pair of breeding swallows, hardly any butterflies and a much reduced range of dragonflies. There are no fish in the pond, although that might have something to do with a heron that's been hanging around. I've seen no hares, not even any feral cats.

So it was good to see this Jersey Tiger moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria) on the mint today along with a huge selection of variously coloured-bottom flies, wasps and bees. We had one the first year but hadn't seen one since. We saw a few early butterflies, Brimstone and Orange Tip but hardly any Peacocks, Red Admirals or Fritillaries which are usually abundant. There have even barely been any Cabbage White butterflies although there are signs we've had at least two in the vicinity because here is the evidence.


I went out this morning to continue digging potatoes but when I reached the patch discovered the first unmistakeable signs of blight on the tomatoes. We've only managed to take half a dozen ripe fruit from the patch so far and there are literally tens of kilos of green tomatoes waiting to ripen. It put me into a bit of a flurry.

First of all I went out to buy some more bordeaux mixture thinking I would spray again, even though it's barely 10 days since the last dose. Then I thought I would remove some of the foliage so that the spray could penetrate better. Finally, I decided that I would just denude the plants severely so that the sun can reach the fruit. Spraying our food with poison just wasn't appealing enough and there was no guarantee that the spray would stop the blight once it had started anyway, particularly since the expected storms would probably wash all the new fungicide away almost immediately.

Once I had reconciled myself to the thought that there would be no second harvest it seemed the most sensible option. I hope the tomatoes ripen quickly now.



joker the lurcher said...

so sorry to hear about the tomatoes. to those of us who grow things for additional interest it is depressing enough - for you folks who aim to live off what you grow it is dire.

Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry about that, Tomatoes just seem to be getting harder and harder to grow, and the last 2 years I even lost them in the greenhouse!.
Fingers crossed the spray works for you.

Catofstripes said...

Thanks Joker and Lee - the blight hasn't progressed further so I'm hopeful we'll get some tomatoes and I'm planning an early start on the green tomato chutney to make sure something gets preserved for later.

Pity the weather's gone right off, no sun now to ripen the poor things, still that's gardening!