The garden is now starting to provide the majority of our vegetable and salad needs which is immensely satisfying. We’re picking beans, lettuce, tomatoes, beetroots, pak choy and some little zucchinis. The corn looks like it’s getting close, the eggplants are starting to flower and the (very few) carrots that survived will be good in another few weeks. However, it is also throwing up a few challenges that I’m struggling to deal with. This is where you come in, I need advice, suggestions, or at least a telling off if I’m doing it all wrong.
Firstly, the zucchinis. While they’re flowering like mad and I have piles of baby zukes, they tend to start to yellow a bit on the end and then not develop any further. At this point I’ve been picking them and eating them small, they taste fine, but I would like a proper sized one if possible. In the past I’ve pulled the flower off early and that helped, but this year that seemed to make things worse. I also have thousands of white flies. I’ve sprayed with pyrethrum without effect. Then I tried a soapy water mixture and sprayed that on and again nothing. I’ve also cut off any of the damaged leaves (caused by the white fly as well as the worst of the damage caused by the hail storm) which does seem to promote healthy new growth, but then the flies attack the new bits. What’s the trick to get rid of these little nasties?
Next, my tomatoes had turned into something of a forest with the plants going mental in the growth department. The middle of the patch was pretty much inaccessible and too dense for much sunlight to get too. Obviously I should have maintained some control of the plants earlier, but I didn’t. Then lots of the leaves started to turn yellow and die off, as well as the plants having black spots on the leaves and stems (doesn’t sound good does it?) Over the last few evenings I’ve been out and cut back any of the dead or dying parts. I was pretty ruthless with the secateurs and there wasn’t a lot left of the forest once I’d finished. Now, though, I’m wondering if this was the right thing to do to them and how should I tackle the black spot? Thankfully there’s still plenty of fruit on the plants, but having said that, there’s also a long time before the end of tomato season so I would like to keep them fruiting for a few months yet.
Finally, the potatoes. These are still impressive looking beasts, with lots of foliage drooping over the sides and swamping the plants below them (I’ve been building up the bed inside a wire cage, though stopped at about over a meter high when I ran out of mulch and compost). If you remember the potatoes were a gift from a friend who had some left over. She’s been growing them in the same way (though hers were planted a couple of weeks earlier) and when she saw them the other day she was amazed at the foliage, hers didn’t have anything like the amount mine do. Now I’m worrying that the spuds put all their energy into growing leaves and forgot about the tubers. I guess I won’t find that out until I dig them up, which brings me to my quandary. I’ve been reading on other people’s blogs that they are harvesting their potatoes now, should I be doing this too, or wait until mine flower and die back. How do you know when to get digging?
Ah, it’s all a learning experience isn’t it. For me, once I’ve decided to try something new or do something in a different way I just want to get on with it. I’m finding it a test of patience to just see this crop through before getting on with the plans in my head. I’m going to do some potato experiments next year and I’m going to spread my tomatoes out a bit more also. I will plant thousands of capsicums so I have more than one sad and lonely plant (no signs of fruit yet?). Oh the list inside my head is endless.
Oh that reminds me of one very important question, when should I be planting my winter veg seeds in the seed trays in readiness for the next round of plantings? I missed the boat a bit for the summer ones, so I want to be well on top of things for winter. All offers of advice gratefully received!