Monthly Archives: June 2011

Basil Greenfly


I haven’t posted for a little while because I have been busy. I also haven’t posted for a little while because all is not well in the garden and I can’t bring myself to photo the state of the plants.

The weather has been cold and overcast for almost two weeks as far as I can remember. There is no sunshine to ripen the strawberries which are all half grown and there are no bumble bees buzzing about to pollinate the tomatoes or courgettes. It has also been raining and windy so the two courgette plants have had their stems snapped from the wind. Oh, it is a disaster out there. At least the peas and beans seems to be just about surviving.

Inside we have lots of basil. Basil coming out our ears. Lots of basil is good news. Unfortunately the plant which was brought in from inside has become a bit of a greenfly breeding ground. I have been keeping an eye on it since it came in because I found one or two flies on it already. Last night I noticed eggs and did a thorough inspection. The case had suddenly gotten quite out of hand. I picked more than ten leaves off the plants, all with multitudes of little eggs on the underside. I think I managed to get them all but I will have to keep a close eye on it from now on. I also checked the other plants but they seem to be clear for now.


This invasion of insects makes me think about the insect problems we have been having outside as well. We have been staying in the suburbs and the plants were initially under a rose bush. This has resulted in invasions of greenfly, whitefly and blackfly. The courgettes now also have ants in the soil. Honestly, they are all totally covered in insects, and not the good kind. We realise that the tomatoes and courgettes might not work out so we are prepared to possibly abandon them and try some new seedlings soon, in the hope of a late harvest. However, I am now very concerned about the state of our soil. I do not want to move to a new apartment, with no insects or problems, and just bring all these little eggs with us in the soil. Then we might end up losing a second crop and possibly a lot of heart about the whole situation.

It does look like we are going to have to resort to some sort of pesticide to kill everything before we move. We didn’t want it to get to this but I don’t think we have any choice. We will research the options and see what choices we have but I don’t want to take any chances on starting a new colony of those pesky black fly in our new garden.



Mixed News from the Garden


IMG_1351Since all the rain and cold weather at the weekend the vegetables are not looking great this evening I decided to fertilise them all, despite none of them really needing much water.

The tomatoes outside looks really tired and unhealthy. The stems on all of them have turned quite a dark colour since the rain. I am not sure if they are bruised from being bashed around with the wind or if they are damaged from too much rain directly onto them. Either way they are not in good shape and may not survive, or bear fruit if they do.

Neither courgette plant looks up to much either. The flowers have shrivelled and I am not sure if they were pollinated in time. The second courgette plant was moved outside on a warm day last week, in full health, just in time for a good bashing of wind and rain at the weekend. The bad weather started when we weren’t at the house so there was nothing we could do. This plant previously had a broken stem but it seemed to have healed. Unfortunately it looks like it may be broken again. I must admit that we were both a bit upset about this plant this evening because it has been such a fighter and really it is our fault for putting it outside without hardening it off properly, even if we couldn’t have known about the weather change. 

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Better news is that the pea, which is still low on the ground, has had some flowers and now also has its first pod! This is the first sign of real fruit that we have seen from any of the plants! The pea has been a bit of an overlooked gem in the garden since we acquired it. It is in it’s own pot and we didn’t start it from seed ourselves so I tend to overlook it when I think about our vegetable collection. I think I should start paying it a bit more attention.

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The other little gem is the beans. The beans have hardly complained at all. They have been climbing away and now some even have flowers on them. Surely it won’t be too long before we have fresh beans to eat from them. Fingers crossed.

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The basil, overall, has been a success. On the surface it has been a real success, it is prolific and we have been eating plenty of it every week. The downsides are that it seems to be malnourished and cramped in its pots. I have taken to feeding it once a week with the tomato food but it is recovering only slightly. It seems that basil requires more space than we allowed (3 to 6 seeds per 4” pot). One of the plants has set flowers now, which I doubt is a god thing for our crop. This evening I also picked some greenfly off one of the plants inside. The leaves on that plant have been subject to greenfly attack already. All in all it has been nice and easy, we will definitely grow more and again!

Our conclusion from all that is happening now in the garden is that it is definitely time to get some second crop plants going either to follow or replace our existing lot. It is getting a bit late for planting new seeds but we will give it  go in the hope of getting at least one good crop of tomatoes and courgettes. We may also plant some new vegetables as well, if my excitement and impulsiveness are not contained!


Cold Weather Planning


The weather at the moment is surprisingly cold and wet. It has been raining on and off for about three days including quite a bad storm on Friday evening. This means that the plants are all well watered, if not a little cold. It seems, surprisingly, that there is very little for us to do with them this weekend. This is definitely a first! Well, there is one thing to do, we can eat the few ripe strawberries we have straight from the plants!


I love tending the vegetables but it is also nice to have a weekend off and get a chance to get back to planning! We have *fingers crossed* found a flat in London to move to in about a month. It has been a slow and tiring process trying to find somewhere to live with our own piece of private outdoor space. Honestly I was near the brink and almost considering abandoning the plants in favour of our own comfort. Fortunately we got really lucky and found a flat with a nice private roof terrace attached. This means that we now know for the first time how much space we really have to work with. This is a great relief and also very exciting as I can start planning additional pots full of all the things we have held off planting so far!


As we won’t be able to move to the new place until mid-July today is going to e dedicated to finding out what late sowings we can do. All the plants we have now were sown quite early so we should be able to get a second round sown soon and ready to plant out around the time we move into London properly. That means that we will be able to have follow on crops once our current vegetables are finishing up.

Planning comes close to growing vegetables on the list of things I really love to do. So planning what vegetables to grow is going to be a fun few hours this afternoon. Smile


The Beauty of Gardening


Yesterday evening there was an unexpected storm. The skies turned grey before opening and a barrage of hail stones pelted us on the street in London, where we were caught out. The temperature really dropped too and my first thoughts were of our delicate tomato and courgette plants at home. When we got back late I took the torch and went outside to see how they were holding up, terrified I’d find them collapsed and dead looking after the shock of it.

I was blown away by the little courgette which is not only alive in spite of its ailing health but it has flowered. it really lifted my spirits to see how tough our plants are, in spite of a few setbacks the little moments of joy really outweigh the difficulties.



Herbilicious Leaves


The herbs have really cheered up since we transplanted them last weekend. They seem to be pleased with the addition of some compost, lots of water and more room. After transplanting them I read that both lemon balm and marjoram will spread so we will probably need to thin this pot out later in the season. We are really learning as we go with all of our plants.

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Each herb has a few issues. In order of the pictures; the marjoram has some dried out leaves and looks a bit malnourished and yellow. The lemon balm also has some leaves drying from the tips up and it is quite yellow (although this might be normal as we are not familiar with these herbs).

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The sage has a few less healthy looking leaves although the plant has really come along in leaps and bounds since we bought it in April. The mint is in its own pot where it has plenty of room to spread and give us a big crop of delicious leaves later in the year.


Blushing Strawberry Fruit


The strawberries are coming along well. It looks like the first of our fruit is small and nearly ripe enough to eat. So far each of the three plants only has either one or two trusses of fruit. I am not sure if they will develop more. I expect they will ripen rapidly over the next week so we will need to keep an eye on them every day.


The strawberries have been doing OK for us this spring. They did have a bit of trouble with the leaves and flowers being eaten; we now suspect greenfly might be the culprit for that attack. But they have recovered, or struggled on, well. We built our cagefor them in time to keep the birds away. We can’t be certain yet that it will be totally effective but at least we are prepared! The only pest we found was this snail, cunningly hidden inside the net, making its way towards their delicious green leaves.

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Here’s to eating our own home-grown strawberries very soon!


A Tale of Two Courgettes


This is a story about two courgette plants. The first is a variety called Black Beauty. It was planted early, at the end of March. It sprouted in about two weeks and lived happily under glass in an unheated greenhouse where it looked strong and healthy. It was transplanted into its own self-watering container full of compost in May and has been carefully watered ever since.

Here it is now. It does not look happy at all. The leaves are turning brown and have not responded to watering. This plant was first moved outside on the day of a storm, the only storm so far this spring, which took us by surprise. It is hard to know if the storm shocked it too much and maybe it never recovered properly from that. The plant has flowers and was all set to start producing fruit soon, on schedule for an early summer crop. One of the flowers yesterday had seeds in it. I don’t know a lot about courgette plants but I am worried that this plant may have had a shock from the storm and bolted.

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The second courgette is a cousin of the first called All Green Bush. It was planted about four weeks later than the first, in mid April, and sprouted quickly. It turned into a thriving plant and caught us out with the speed it grew. When we finally got around to transplanting it last weekend it was really struggling in its tiny pot. In fact the stem looked weakened and we considered that it might not survive. We gave it its own self-watering container, watered it in and left it under glass for the week.

This plant has really thrived. Today it looks like the healthiest plant in the garden. The flowers are even starting to appear on it already.


I am not sure what the lesson here is. Perhaps we should not be so hasty to plant early next year as we did not gain much time from it. Or perhaps the second variety is more suited to our growing conditions. Or it could be simply the case that the first courgette was unlucky to get caught in a storm, especially when it wasn’t hardened off properly yet. It might not be too late to try to get another seedling going for a late crop.