Monday 22 June 2009

Lets talk about ... the weather


The longest day has been and gone. It's a terrifying thought, now we start the long slide back into winter and I've not even finished the planting yet. Still, the summer is most definitely here now and we've been enjoying day after day of warmth, mostly with wonderful sunshine.

Pity this means it's beginning to become necessary to water.

Today I planted out the last of the tomatoes. I hope it's in time. The early planting of Latah has been most disappointing. The plants have flowered but failed to fertilise and the spent blooms are just dropping off instead of making fruit. I can't see any obvious reason for it. The ground is moist and weedfree and the plants sturdy and well grown. Tomatoes don't usually need insects to pollinate them but even if they did, there have been plenty of bees on the adjacent broad beans. The Latah are still making flowers and will hopefully finally produce a crop but they're not going to be any quicker than the Salt Spring Sunrise that I planted out today, so they're not going to make the cut into my favourite essentials no matter how good the flavour is.

Normandy Whangaparoa Crown Prince

All the pumpkins were in by last week, still a bit late in my opinion but that shouldn't stop them cropping. Only five of about 15 Whangaparoa Crown germinated in the end but that will be enough to start selecting for a Normandy adapted strain that I can maintain. So far the plants are growing sturdily and are just starting to show signs of flower formation.

Moschata Muscade

Pumpkin Moschata Muscade is widely available but I think the two plants I have here will produce seed that can be saved without losing too much genetic variability. By restricting my choice of cucurbits to one example from each of the groups maxima, moschata and pepo I can allow insect pollination and increase the chances of retaining the variety's intrinsic diversity because all seeds will be potential new plants, not just the seed from one or two hand pollinated fruit.

Pepo Trieste White Cousa

The courgette, Trieste White Cousa, probably isn't going to be worth saving seed from. There are two other plants beside this one but they are still pot bound, waiting for a patch of ground to get their feet into and may be stunted as a result. A pity, I like the white courges best of all but should be able to start again with more seed from Realseeds.

The potatoes are doing pretty well. One benefit of hot dry weather is that the chances of blight are much reduced because of the low humidity. Even so, I have sprayed a couple of times with mixture bordelaise and will probably do so again at the end of the week, just before a change in the weather is predicted. If you are worried about blight in the UK then this site, Fight against Blight 2009 will be helpful in identifying where problems may be starting.

vitelotte noire poor growth

We do have some potato problems though. The Vitelotte Noire, started from supermarket tubers that had been treated to stop sprouting, have made a slow start and show signs of virus disease and physiological disorders. Compared to their neighbours in the picture above, Sarpo Mira on the right and Pink Fir Apple on the left they look very poorly indeed.

vitelotte noire foliage

If I was sensible I'd just have them out now and burn the lot but I'm going to keep them in the ground just a little bit longer and hope that I get a small crop. At some point in my life I'm really going to get to grips with micro-propagation and these would be prime candidates as a starting point.

vitelotte noire flower (with beetle)

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