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Daphne

So how is the season so far?

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You can grow tomato cuttings in water - unless your seedlings are still quite small.  I'd feel the soil, stick a finger down the side and if it is only damp, give it a good water and let it drain.  They are thirsty beasties, but then you don't want damping off - stressing them out by allowing them to wilt will weaken them.

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Lifted some Agata first early potatoes yesterday, just 51 days after planting. Nice size, very thin skins and very tasty; one for next year. Didn't need any watering either. However the heavy rain we are getting at the moment may be a problem because, despite being earthed up, the potatoes are growing deep and may rot in the ground?

We took your advice last year Valkyrie and took cuttings off the tomato plants we bought to give us an extra 8 plants. They took about a month to be ready for planting out though, so they went in the ground 1st July and they had just enough time to ripen before the first frosts. Been advised to grow from seed in future though, because of some disease that is in France which kills the plants and stays in the soil.

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I haven't contributed much to this thread this year as I planted loads of seeds to try to beat coronavirus, but germination has been slow and poor.  I think its because our weather has been incessantly wet for March/April, although it is pretty mild.  I was given some cherry tom plug plants which are flowering, but only about 8" tall, and I have a host of other tomato seedlings which aren't big enough to be potted on, even though they have been up for 8 weeks or so.  Typically tomatoes don't ripen here properly till Aug/Sept so I know I will have time to get some of them into the soil. Friends about 10 miles away, but much lower down in altitude than us, have tomato plants which already look like they are supposed to.

My peas have been foiled by the twin attentions of mice/voles and the cat.  There are some still growing, but many were dug up.  The french beans have failed to germinate, not sure why, the seed was local and fresh.  I won't bother resowing as I am still drowning in broad beans.  We keep eating/freezing/giving away, but the succession sowing is now up and beginning to rival the original batch!  Carrots and beetroot are slow, rocket is harvestable, lettuce nowhere to be seen although the warm wet has resulted in bumper crops of mint, sage leaves the size of small houses and plenty of thyme.  Luckily some neighbours have done much better, and we have been given frisee and cos lettuce, and pennyroyal to eat.

Orange citrus fruit has been very good, we are still harvesting weekly from various friends' patches, and then giving them away (the friends at low altitude can't grow citrus because they get frosts in winter), the lemons are fewer but larger, and I had my first (underripe) cherry today.  However, peaches have leaf curl for 3rd year running, apricots, apples, loquats and plums are pretty average, and the fig is dying from some mystery.   Another one next door is dead, so I suspect some rampant horrible disease.  We have given ours a radical haircut and if it is still sickly next year we will take it down.  The almonds are huge already, so that is hopeful.  All in all though, 2020 is not going to be a year to remember in my edible garden!  The only good news is that we have access to more land with mature fruit trees with permission to harvest during lockdown, so we won't go hungry.  I am also buying strawberries most weeks, as a treat.

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My fig is on a south facing wall and is racing away.  Some fruits overwintered and are now swelling nicely. I think we could get fruit earlier than last year.   Found a lovely nursery and their tomato plants are coming along nicely. Still not planted out yet though.     French beans, and butternut squash still in pots as well.  I bought two artichoke which I’m going to plant out into the flower garden.  Growing these for fun rather than anything else.  Lettuce still looks pathetic.  Will keep hoping and sowing.  I’ve planted up several hanging baskets which are now wrapped in fleece in case we get a frost in the next few days.  

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 Our nectarine has terrible leaf curl Daphne and we think it is dead; cost €45 last year and we had 4 fruit from it. Same disease as peaches apparently and needs a lot of chemical spraying to control, so we'll take it out. Cherries were rather small this morning but after the rain today have doubled in size: the tree needs pruning before it is so big it gets blown over.

Figs have been pruned and the hens have fertilised them so they are doing great. French beans all up. Leeks very slow to germinate and perhaps the weeds will overwhelm them?

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I have a dwarf nectarine that I bought last January. It had terrible leaf curl last year but still managed to grow quite a few nectarines. So far this year it looks much better 🤞🏻

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We'll give the tree a chance Mullethunter, but it was only a week after we noticed all the leaves were curled (walk past it twice a day) that they had turned brown and fallen off. What's left looks like a dead twig. There are about 4 nectarine fruit on it, but they are all mis-shapen. Can't spray it because it is within the chicken enclosure.

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I have flowers on the dwarf peas but, as they really are very dwarf, they'll not feed the 5 000! Tomato plants still indoors and taking forever to grow - only about 6 inches so far with 4 or so leaves to each plant.  Cucumber plants are looking healthy but small and same with the baby corn - all seems to have ground to a halt. I have been trying to harden things off - corn and peas are outside - but worried about frosts and wind. We were supposedly down to -4 last night! Sweet peas are racing away (typically non edibles!) so I need to harden those off and plant out before they take over the room!

The peony is up about 8 inches and branching out so I am hopeful but the fig, in a large pot, has floppy leaves! It was bought as a 'fig twig' from Lidl last year and grew very quickly, once potted up. It has put on lots of growth and leaf so far but there is something munching the very topmost (odd!) leaves. Cardoons are going bonkers with huge silvery leaves about 5 ft tall already. We don't eat them but they do look wonderful and very dramatic. 

Given the fact that we now have a hoggy family around, I am hoping that the slugs and snails will be kept at bay this year.

 

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Well the beetroot i planted at the end of March is finally up 🙄pity really as I have around 50 cells at home all planted with beetroot and are all doing well. Finally seen the parsnip seedlings!! It’s a constant battle with the watering at the moment. There are 2 water troughs at the allotment, connected to the mains, but a bit of a walk for me. I use 25 litre bottles to fill up from the troughs and carry them to my 3 water butts, but it’s hard going....

 

i covered one raised bed with cardboard and then compost. It needs much less watering than the other beds. Will be doing them all that way this year. Following Charles Dowding‘s advice and loving his YouTube videos. I’ve also learnt to cell plant lots of seeds every few weeks to fill gaps...something im hopeless at, but seeing as I’m forloughed and probably being made redundant in June, I have the time 😀

 

squashes are loving the warmth and doing well too! 
 

My peony is stunning!! 

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Your peony certainly is stunning, possibly the most beautiful blossom of all in my book, except for the lack of scent, so I fall back on the rose.  Do you find yourself in a quandary about whether to cut some blooms for the house, or are you quite happy with them on the plant.  I can never decide.  The nicest floral thing that has happened to me this year is that a poppy self seeded itself in with the broad beans.  Its a very fertile bed, and the poppy is about 4 ft high with multiple heads of a very shaggy flowered poppy, its quite ununusual.  Every time I have flowers in this particular veg bed they are enormous and very floriferous. The only bad thing is that its a bit salmon pink, which I am not keen on.  I sowed lots of a blackcurrant coloured one, with a shaggy flower, but none of those have come up.

You might find your squashes are quite thirsty, I no longer try to grow them, or melons or courgettes because I don't have any free water.  Valkyrie is a big fan of Charles Dowding, I'm sure there is a lot of good sense in there.  One thing I have learnt about conserving water is that you plant much closer together than you might think so there is more shade and less bare soil for run off.  Also, its no longer a chore to weed, I keep big weeds down but other than that they are allowed to grow, the roots hold the soil together and help conserve the moisture. Most annual weeds are small and weedy and are not competition, at least not after veg sowings have established.  Mulching helps as well, but ideally you need to mulch onto very wet soil, and not crowd the stem of the plant otherwise the water will just run off and/or the stem will rot.

I can see my beetroot and carrot sowings are coming up, its taken an age.  They are both partially shaded by the broad beans, which wasn't intentional, but may be helping, given the power of the sun here.  One cherry tomato has 2 fruit on it!  But I am still waiting to plant most of big tomatoes out as I have to finish the never ending broad beans first, to free up a bed.

Fruit is mostly miss, with one hit which is it looks like a very good grape and possibly olive year.   We are going to try to make a bit more wine this year (we'll only be talking 20 litres max) so we are a bit more self sufficient. So I am pruning for fruit, not for shade.  We tried some 2.5 year old Chateau Daphne last week, and it was pretty good!  We are also in the lovely position of having olive oil in store from ourselves and 3 other people, so we can have taste tests.  Its amazing how different each batch is, from a radius of 20 miles, with different micro-climates.

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When we bought this house all the roses (there are dozens) were white, except one very scented red. After three years of chickens grubbing under them and fertilising them in the process the colours have developed and we now have pinks, yellows and oranges.I didn't realise the colours were influenced by the soil condition. We do cut them for the house, time permitting, particularly if rain is expected.

To retain the moisture on tomatoes and potatoes we cover the soil with 5cm of leaf mulch. It makes a huge difference in the watering needed. In Autumn the leaves are blown into a heap and sucked up through a shredder then stored in a pile until Spring. They don't rot much. We're also going to try moss, because that doesn't seem to rot at all and we may be able to use it over several years.

I've just sown a second lot of beetroot and leeks and a first sowing of parsnips. Problem is it is so hot and dry at the moment the rows keep drying out so, although they may have germinated, I've probably killed them by not watering often enough.

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Really? I had no idea about rose colour.  I am off to see what I can find out.  How exciting!  I have a beautiful pale pink rose which bloomed its socks off this year for the first time, with a powerful fragrance.  I planted it a few years ago but no idea what its called, her you just buy what you can find - ranges are very limited, unless you can eat it, in which case, the seed range is phenomenal.

Just out of interest, do you find any difference between morning watering and evening watering.  If I am up early I will do it in the morning, but mostly I do it in the evening, on the basis there is 12 hours or so for the water to go in and stay there, rather than evaporating.  I think I might do a second lot of beetroot as well as you get 2 for the price of 1 with the leaves as well as the root.  My mother adores beetroot and in her online shop I always get her 2 punnets.

I forgot to say before, about peach trees, we have been using copper spray (UK purchase).  Did it a couple of times last year, and once early this year.  Its to try to stop the terrible aphid infestation we have as well as the curl.  Loads of birds pick off some of the aphids, but not enough.  We'll spray again after harvest and maybe once more before the end of the summer.  The tree is marginally healthier than it was last year, not sure if its the spray or luck or imagination!

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9 hours ago, Daphne said:

Your peony certainly is stunning, possibly the most beautiful blossom of all in my book, except for the lack of scent, so I fall back on the rose. 

Then you never stuck your nose in my peony! Best scented flower!

Actually got myself two roses last week after seeing the GW rerun on roses. Bought 2 climbing roses, one to go on the fence, the other up the pear tree.

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Ah, CT, do you happen to know which variety that is?  I do know one, Duchesse de Nemours, a lovely white, just like yours, which is scented.  But it is not a  common trait for most peonies.

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7 minutes ago, Daphne said:

Ah, CT, do you happen to know which variety that is?  I do know one, Duchesse de Nemours, a lovely white, just like yours, which is scented.  But it is not a  common trait for most peonies.

I think so, but there are definitely more varieties that are scented. Sarah Bernhardt definitely too. My mom buys them as cut flowers and most colours are scented.

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Daphne, just read 10 mins ago early morning watering is best. I usually do evening as more time. The article suggested evening not so good as water would stay soggy around the plant for longer and could encourage fungus.

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I water in the evening too. Just have more time and would have to get up at rediculous o-clock to water in the morning as parts are baking quite early.

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That peony is Sarah Bernhardt and it smells like a rose! It’s beautiful! I do cut a few stems for the house...😀😀

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I have one peony flower this year!  We’re normally in Spain now so I’ve never actually seen it bloom.  I think last year I came back to the remains of three flowers.   It’s now in more shade from another plant which I think might be the reason.  I’ll have to cut the overhanging plant back.  It’s one I put in at the same time as the peony but has outstripped it in growth.  Can’t remember it’s name! 

The tomatoes, Gardeners’ Delight, are planted out and romping away.  They are loving wrapped in fleece each night by OH.  The lettuce survived and is growing apace.  Butternut squash, artichokes beginning to move.  French beans have flowers and look healthy.  Just sown some rocket in an old foil dish after watching Gardeners World this week! 

I water the hanging baskets ( numerous!) evening and in the morning.   They dry out so fast!   

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I went down to the allotment at 7.45 this morning as seen to be waking up earlier each day...the squash plants are liking the warmth! ‘Anna Swartz’ Has quadrupled in size this week! Carrots are ok apart from the weeds but need them to grow taller before I risk weeding. The other 2 rows of carrots have done nothing for 6 weeks so I’ll dig them over and replant seeds there...

 

The beetroot seeds I planted on Friday and watered,  then covered with guttering are all up😱😀👍🏻 The soil around them is still damp so going to use this method for the carrots! 

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Thunderstorms with hail are forecast for the next four days so the tomatoes have been covered with 'debris netting', something we bought from a scaffolding supply company to sub-divide a chicken enclosure. Very tough stuff and UV resistant; lets the rain through but not hailstones and makes a good windbreak as well. Not seen it for sale anywhere else. Comes in various colours but the green is the least obtrusive. Before we left England I bought another 100 metres of it, so we have a lifetime supply and could cover the entire vegetable plot several times over.

We have a self-seeded squash plant on the compost heap or, to be more accurate, covering the compost heap. It's now 5 metres across in just three weeks.

Planted a second sowing of French Beans as the first lot had flowered and we have 17 of 20 up in four days. No sign of the parsnips though. Our Agata early potatoes are great and will definitely be repeated next year but they will all come up together when they are still small.

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Sounds like the rain and coolness that we are due from Wednesday. If it is cooling down, I will get my spinach babies out.

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I swear that our runner beans are growing as I watch them! I'd sown the 9 seeds in the packet and given up on germination after 3/4 weeks so it was a nice surprise to see that 3 had decided to make a bid for freedom after all! Our dwarf peas are going great guns and we have already picked and eaten (raw) about 10 pods. I have a second sowing on the windowsill ready to replace.

We thought that we'd harvested all our pink fir apple salad pots last year and I'd put the old pot to one side.....now it's sprouting again so there were obviously some tubers that we had missed - so that's a bonus! Calabrese is looking good but I think I'll have to prick out rather than leaving it in the big pot that I sowed it in. Pepper plants (just 3!) are now outside but seem not to have grown at all over the last 2 weeks.......I've moved the pot to see if that makes any difference. Baby corn slowly growing but sweet peas a disaster ........ yet again! Don't know why I carry on with then really; a triumph of hope over experience. On the odd occasion that I've picked up healthy, vigorous ones from fetes they've got back to my garden, taken one look and lost the will to live. 

The peony that I potted looks good; one flower at least in bud so that's one more than I thought! Roses just coming out too just as the wild garlic goes over. Tomato plants have been individually potted up and I'll get those outdoors in a couple of weeks (don't you have to wait for a flower bud before letting them out on their own?). Cucumbers were a disaster - they germinated brilliantly but then just collapsed! 

I have REALLY missed fetes this spring. They are a fantastic source of very reasonably priced plants and, as you are often buying from the person who donated them, you tend to get lots of advice about position etc.

Desperately hoping for lots of rain; OH has comandeered the remaining water in the water butt for his dwarf lemon, olive and orange trees, all of which are in flower!

 

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