August update: at last!

It’s been a while since the last update but I’m not sure where the time has gone. Here we go with the success and failures….

Let’s start with the carrots. These are looking good in both the raised bed and in pots. Those in the raised bed I’m very proud of – I have some that were sown on 13 May and these are now a good size and those sown on 11 June are growing well (not pulled any of these up to check yet as don’t want to waste them). The earlier sown carrots were covered with fleece for the first month then I took this off – no sign of carrot fly damage.

Carrots from the raised bed sown on 13 May – looking good! (With penny coin for size comparison)

Those in the pots sown on 29 May were not developing a root at all and were just green tops – I had no idea why. I’d been watering them daily but decided to give that a rest for a while and only do them every other day now when they look like they needed it. They seem quite resistant to wilting in the hot weather we’ve had and the roots look like they are developing very well now.

Courgettes, well I’ve learned my lesson – 14 plants (10 on the allotment and 4 in the garden) is a ridiculous number to grow. I can’t keep on top of them and have grown some monsters. Someone had warned me it might get to the point where you are asking strangers in the street to take them off your hands; I didn’t believe them but they were right….

Just a few of the monster courgettes

I’ve about 15 small ones in the fridge that need to be used – who knew that courgettes were quite spiky early in their development? And the taste of those cut fresh from the plant is very different to those in the supermarket; quite a strong earthy flavour from the smaller ones (generally less than 6 inches). The larger courgettes don’t seem to have much flavour and we’ve used them to bulk out meals where we can – curries and casseroles. The smaller courgettes as nice thinly sliced on pizzas and also in courgette pickle.

I had a squash plant in the garden that didn’t produce any fruit and leaves looked stunted and yellow so I pulled it up weeks ago. On the allotment there was a courgette plant that developed similar symptoms. We suspect these are caused by cucumber mosaic virus, often abbreviated to CMV.  This virus causes stunting of the plant, yellowing of leaves and malformation of the fruit. There are many viruses that affect vegetables and many produce indentations and rings as symptoms. If you cut the courgette open it looks normal inside. I’ve not tasted one yet but some report that affected fruits tend to taste bitter.

Yellow stunted leaves of CMV affected courgette plant
Some of the classic ring symptoms associated with viral infection on fruits

Tomatoes! The cherry sized tomatoes look great – I’m going to enter them in the village show on Saturday so I gave them a small amount of water last night before the rain. I got caught out a few weeks ago when a gave them a good watering, it rained overnight and the fruits split. Luckily there is no sign of that yet – I need 6 of equal size, so at the moment they have potential!

Tiny Tim tomatoes ready for showing!

Potatoes are starting to die back now and foliage is turning yellow – they were getting a weekly top up of foliar general purpose feed but I think they are coming to the end of their growing season in the pots. They’ve been in the pots since 29th April so over 3 months now. It’s perhaps a bit early to cut stems off but I can’t see them doing much more. I’ll cut the tops off at the weekend and leave them for a few weeks to allow the skins to set and see how many we get!

Desiree potatoes: some still looking a bit green, others yellowing.

Finally, the large tomatoes. Pink Brandywine has finally set a few fruits which are still green. Black Sea Man produced a few lovely large fruits, however, I’ve not been as good recently at watering every evening and some of the newer fruit developed blossom end rot. This is caused by calcium deficiency, and in some of them a large rot has set in. I’ll aim to make a better job of watering over the next few weeks to see if I can improve the prospects for some of the later fruits. I added one to a pasta dish and it was a lovely beefy tomato so hopefully I’ll get a few more before the season ends.

Blossom end rot on Black Sea Man

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