The last week has hardly been July weather, where is that warm sunshine? Still, the crops are growing nearly as well as the weeds. The greenhouses seem to be doing well, despite the whitefly in the small one.
Derris to Go Next
Talking of whitefly, one weapon in the grower’s armoury has been Derris. It’s been around since the mid 19th Century and the active constituent is rotenone, which is made from the roots of legumes.
Apparently chronic exposure to rotenone has been possibly linked to Parkinson’s Disease. Or a combination of pesticides could be the cause. The study was undertaken by Professor Greenamyre and his team at the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and showed a causative effect of the brain changes associated with Parkinson’s Disease.
Anyway, we have other remedies available but on rare occasions a spray with Derris has been a crop saver but it will be leaving the shelves in September 2009 apparently. I stocked up with a couple of bottles and at the high rate I use it, sometimes spraying twice in a year, it should last me for the rest of my life.
We got some more multi-purpose compost and I got a very fine watering can rose which will be useful for watering seedlings. It cost me about £2.50, so more than the cheap watering can it fits onto.
We’ve nipped up to the plot a couple of times to water in the greenhouse and grab a lettuce etc. Seems daft watering in the rain, but growers are a bit that way. Incidentally, a few raw young broad beans and peas don’t half perk up a salad. I’m not a great salad fan, but I do find a spot of olive oil, vinegar and a very light sprinkling of salt makes it taste great whilst reducing the ‘healthiness’ !
Potting On Brassicas
Had a few happy hours in the shed at home moving on some cauliflowers and cabbages. They were pushing the 3″ pots and I don’t quite know when they will get planted out so into 6″ pots with them. I was assisted by Mr Squeak the cat, who decided he doesn’t like cabbage after biting a chuck out of a leaf!
Saturday was the National Vegetable Society meeting in Preston. I used to have a job that involved a lot of driving, anywhere from north of the Thames to Crewe and 1,000 miles wasn’t unusual for a week. Nowadays a run of 60 miles is quite an event.
Sometimes meetings like this are enough to cause you to lose the will to live. Arguments about small details seem to go on forever. However, the truth is that the NVS may be a small society but its members are passionate and really love it so changes are viewed with deep suspicion.
Sunday was, as the weatherman says, ‘sunny spells’. Under cloud it was warm but when the sun came out, glorious. Down to the plot where the weeds are proving they can outgrow any crop.
When I built the bean frames, I’d tied them up with garden twine and this has proven not to be the best idea. It is possible the evil pigeons have been undoing the knots but I doubt it. Anyway, Val had picked up some nylon twine and I fixed them back where the twine had vanished.
Lots of weeding, mainly on plot 29, and a cut off the comfrey. Pretty soon the compost bin I’d got from Poshbins was full. There are two large open bins on the plot and one has got potatoes growing in it. It’s amazing, we buy our selected seed potatoes, carefully chit them and plant them out with care and yet there’s a good haulm coming from some spoilt old spuds thrown onto the compost heap.
Decided to turn the first bin, which will finish off the process of decomposition when I noticed a couple of bumble bees. The next forkful caused a load more to appear and I realised there must be a nest in there.
As you probably know, bees are in trouble. Honey bees are suffering and so are bumble bees. Bees are vital to our ecology, pollinating our crops. I stopped digging out the bin and will leave our insect helpers alone in their home for now.
Allotment Beer Fridge
By six o’clock I was taking a break and thinking I should have brought some water down to the plot as I was thirsty. Therese from plot one came over and offered me a can of lager. Half hour break as we downed a tin and put the world to rights.
Nice as the lager was, it could have been improved by cooling. So here’s how to build a beer cooler for an allotment shed, and it doesn’t need energy! Take a tray or large pot saucer and put about an inch of water in it. Put your bottles or tins in there and cover with a clay pot, soaked in water.
The water will evaporate from the pot and it will suck up more water from the saucer below to evaporate. The evaporation causes the temperature to drop and, hey presto, a green fridge for your plot.
We used something similar many years ago when we had delivered milk. The milkman came after we’d left for work and the milk would turn in the summer if just left out. This kept it relatively cool until we came home in the evening.