There are several crosses between gooseberries and blackcurrants, one of which is the Jostaberry. We had a great specimen, planted winter before last and due to bear its first modest crop this year. However, it has been badly damaged by the most problematic pest of gooseberries, the larvae of the gooseberry sawfly. Their favoured feed is gooseberry foliage, but they will also attack currants, and clearly the hybrid Jostaberry is susceptible. Continue reading
I posted recently regarding blackfly on our broad beans. There I mentioned my expectation that our healthy population of ladybirds would soon assist in addressing this pest. However, we have not seen a single ladybird this year; not that we have been looking out for them, specifically, but we are usually inundated with them. I fear, then, that the population has much declined this last year, and we may, then, have to resort to a spray of a mild solution of soft soap to control the blackfly. Continue reading
Blackfly has arrived on the outdoor broad beans. In typical fashion, there was no sign of them until, seemingly overnight, the hoards moved in and covered the top six inches or more of stem. Their arrival should not, however, cause a rush to spray with any nasty stuff as they are readily dealt with using simple organic methods. Continue reading
Whilst doing my morning rounds – opening the glasshouses and polytunnel, feeding and watering the chickens, checking on seedlings, etc. – the menace that has all but wiped out my cucumbers and glasshouse melons was spotted, if but briefly. It was small; definitely not a mouse, and I think not a shrew either, but most probably a vole – but it was still too sprightly for me. More bait blocks have been put down to see if we can get rid of this pest – how many there are, I have no idea. I do not want to plant out the replacements until I can be fairly sure that they will not be scoffed straight away.
The melons, which looked as though they might survive, are looking even worse now – a couple of them have signs of regrowth, but others look like they might fail to recover. I may have to resort to buying some Sweetheart F1 to replace them – I’m sure one of the local garden centres will still have some in stock when I finally get around to it.
After a weekend of heavy weeding, the smaller of the ‘wedge’ beds was cleared of the worst of the explosion of spring growth. A nasty assortment of annual and perennial weeds had taken over, including thistles, nettles, couch grass and the ever present creeping buttercup and some as yet unidentified but not quite so invasive sort. We should have covered the bed with weed fabric over winter until ready, as we did with most of the other beds – next winter we plan to cover all bare soil as crops are cleared. It makes life so much easier when planting comes around once again. As much as possible of the perennial roots were dug out, but no doubt some remain. What small growth was left was hoed off and the soil raked over ready for planting. The soil appeared rich enough from previous applications of manure so nothing more was done. Continue reading