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New Potatoes & Brassicas

To say it was busy on the site would be an understatement, the car park was full and it seemed more plots had people on them than not. I’d taken the car round loaded with a large bag of compost material, the kitchen waste bin and some brassicas in large pots. I don’t like using the car for a short walk but I made the journey pay being loaded.

Unloaded the sprouts and cabbages, then popped the waste into the compost bin and the sky darkened and began to spot rain.

New Potatoes

My first job was to get some potatoes for dinner. I took the coldframe top off the raised bed and removed a side so I could lever my fork in and 2 minutes later those golden brown tubers were coming out. Not a huge amount but that’s OK. Since I’ll be harvesting as we need, the rest of the plants will be producing more and more. Enough for a couple of superb meals from two plants but I’m afraid the flavour of Swift, the variety of first early potato I’m growing this year, isn’t as good as my usual Arran Pilot. Oh well, if you don’t try, you don’t know.

At this point the spitting rain turned into a shower so took shelter in the shed with Larry and about half the site disappeared as we watched. Shame really as just ten minutes later the big black cloud was moving on and patches of blue were appearing.

We took a little walk down the plot to admire my garlic, I think it’s the best I’ve ever grown judging from the tops. Of course, it’s the bulbs that count so we’ll see.

Planting the Brassicas

Rain shower over and the ground basically dry again it was over to plot 29 to plant the brassicas. First three Romanesco went in. I’ve not done too well with Romanesco in the past but I’m ever hopeful.

Then three sprouts in a row, these and the Romanesco are quite large and pressing the 7″ pots but the rest are later sown and in 3″ pots. Next a row of sprouts Falstaff followed by a row of Revenge and then 16 calabrese went in 4 rows. Finally a row of cabbages, 2 Kilaxy and 2 Elisa.

Got the hosepipe out and watered everything in thoroughly to settle them down and then scattered a handful of pelleted chicken manure per plant to bolster the nutrients. Since I had a vision of every hungry slug on the plot making a beeline for them, scattered some ferramol slug pellets before beginning to erect protection from that other persistent pest, the pigeons. My side panels made from 2″ x 1″ and wire went down the sides and some netting over the top.

Cucumber Problems

I usually just grow Burpless Tasty Green cucumbers. They’re a robust breed, putting up with a lot of mistreatment and still giving a crop. I’ve grown them outside and in the greenhouse with no problem.

This year I’m growing Carmen as well. Carmen is an all female hybrid and well spoken of by the experts and certainly vigorous, leaping away and great germination rates. The only problem is that it’s not as tough as my good old Burpless.

Cucumbers are a bit weird really, they need a good amount of water when fruiting but they don’t like having the base of the stem wet. What happens is the base rots and the plant dies off. One day fine, the next gone.

I lost one in the pot to this, my fault entirely – over watered the sensitive plant. The other one got planted in the border of the large greenhouse and started well. Fruits formed and looking perfect but the plant has suddenly started to look a bit sad.

Some yellowing and wilting of the lower leaves and the distinct impression it’s about to keel over.

Now there could be a number of causes for this, favourite is verticillium wilt but it could just be a wet stem about to go. I chatted with the chaps at the NVS meeting about cucumbers and they came up with a couple of suggestions to prevent stem rot. First was to plant on a mound and water round the sides rather than at the top, the second was to draw a trench, just a couple of inches deep, around the plant, which I’ve done now.

Fingers crossed, it will survive.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
5 comments on “New Potatoes & Brassicas
  1. virginia thomas says:

    I have my new Arran Pilot too, they are super, size are huge for some, taste is obviously better than the supermarket one. You are doing extremely well in all sorts, well done and am taking hints and learning from you. Thank you for all the events and informs from your site (both cyber and allotment).

  2. Valerie says:

    I am interested in the protection you have erected to keep pigeons off your brassicas. You mention 2″x1″ and wire and netting. Have you a close up photo? We have the same problem of birds feeding on our plants. Do birds eat young swede plants, and runner bean plants?

  3. John says:

    You’re welcome Virginia 🙂

    Valerie – bird defence. I’ll snap it next time I go to the plot. I’ve not had problems with birds eating young swedes and runners, sure it’s not slugs? Mind you, seen the birds nibbling my lettuce so not ruling anything out.

  4. Becky says:

    I lost a few young cucumber plants due to stem rot… I have now planted mine on a mound with a plant pot sunk into it to send water to the roots hopefully! I use a sunken plant pot to water with marrows and pumpkins too as I forget where the main root is once they sprawl out.

    I have never grown cucumbers before (had my plot just 6 months) my Grandad told me to pinch out the growing tip after 5 leaves… is this just for growing plants along the ground?
    Thanks x

  5. John says:

    Good advice Becky (growing on a mound). I don’t pinch out my cucumbers in the greenhouse but it is a good idea with outdoor ones. Maybe better to leave it to six or seven leaves though – although I wouldn’t want to argue with Grandad’s wisdom.

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