Monday, September 05, 2005

Lovely Cara, but mutinous machinery- the photos won't load

We needed to get the late main crop potatoes up. The variety is Cara, and I grew them so successfully last year that I decided to grow them again, and although we have had drought conditions all summer, they have still grown a very good crop, which I have sorted into large ones for baked jacket potatoes, medium ones for roasting or mashing and smaller ones to eat first, and they have been stored in potato sacks and will he hung up in the garage over winter. All the potato crops have exceeded my expectations, so I will grow some of each next year and try out two different varieties of main crop. It was hot and hard work digging them all up, as the ground was so hard. Pat dug and I scrabbled about in the soil picking them and sorting them. We dug up any weed roots that we discovered so I had lots to dispose of – but not in the compost bins of course.

Today (Sunday) I spent most of the day up there and took lunch. Once again my plans – which I shall abandon, making in future, did not go to plan. The rotorvator decided to go on strike – it started happily but decided it did not like doing more than a row which was very frustrating, so I have to get that looked at too. Yes I did top it up with oil and it had plenty of petrol, but I topped that up too whilst I was at it.

I decided to check the broccoli cage as I read Monty Don’s article in yesterday’s Daily Mail magazine, on methods of controlling pests. His suggestion for caterpillars was to try salt water, or pick them off every single day. I tried a salt water spray with a squirt of washing up liquid to help it adhere. Watch this space for the results. I went in Arnold Schwarzenegger style, with pump action. I rinsed out an old pump sprayer I had, and used that. It was quicker, but still back breaking, but I am winning the battle – I think. I won’t be able check them for the next two days unfortunately. I weeded as always, there is a never ending supply of those, but I have invested in a Mantis Tiller which I hope to receive in the next week. Looking at my diary, at least 80% of my time is spent weeding, so I am hoping it will be money well spent and enable me to weed or hoe with it in between rows, and you get a free lawn edger too, so that will come in very handy as I have to create edges to all the lawn paths that I am creating, so hopefully it will save me a lot of backache.

A nice surprise was to see that my neighbouring plot holder went up there last night and had another go on his tractor – this is the result of about an hours work in total with a tractor and cultivator – if only I had one of those. It has dragged off all the surface weeds but the roots of the perennial thugs are still there and will resurface next year. But doesn’t it look great?

I cleared out all the debris in the fruit cage, cutting all the leaves and runners off the strawberries, and making sure that there were not dead leaves that might attract disease.

Geoff has left his weeds growing around his brassicas and they seem to have deterred the butterflies as he has done nothing to his and they are not as damaged as mine. But the weed seeds will drop and grow next year – so there is a trade off I guess.

Now that the season is ending there are big gaps of empty space, which I am not sure how to handle. I think that it might be too late to sow an organic green manure, and it will take too much plastic to cover it all up. Any suggestions?

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