I ordered my usual three 70 litre bags of compost from Local Hardware Store during the week, and remembered to add a couple of bags of well-rotted horse manure to my order. So there’s now a layer of it sitting on the soil around my redcurrant bushes:
This is a follow on from my last post, where I’d discussed the sawfly problem with a fellow gardener. I also had a go at a bit of light pruning, clipping off any diseased twigs and removing one or two big branches that were rubbing up against other branches and generally getting in the way. But frankly I still don’t feel I know what I’m doing when it comes to pruning redcurrants.
The next stage is to wait till the leaves come out, and pick off any larvae that I find from the undersides. Hopefully most of them won’t have made it that far, thanks to the manure.
Encouraged by today’s lovely weather, I also turned over the compost heap, picked off surplus figs from the fig tree and divided the sorrel (grows in a black bucket, not visible in the above pic).
I had a great conversation with another vegetable grower the other week, over a game of bowls. I mentioned my sawfly/redcurrant problem (see this post), and she gave me the following tip: horse manure. Stick a layer of horse manure over the soil (in early spring, I think she said), and the sawfly larvae will have a much harder job to emerge and plunder your redcurrant bushes. Something to think about.
Earlier this week, I was congratulating myself that my tomato crop had been a reasonably good one, especially considering the fact that the summer had such a slow start. However, today I noticed something that shook me out of my complacency a bit – many of my tomato plants had tiny “nibbles” on the skin of the fruit and also on the stems/leaves. The pic below shows an example (click for biggering).
A bit of googling came up with a possible culprit: the flea beetle. I have ordered some yellow sticky sheets off eBay so hopefully I can catch some of the little barstewards and ID them conclusively. I will have to be careful about not re-using the tomato compost, because apparently the flea beetle overwinters in the soil where the affected crop grows. (Maybe I can dump it by the rose bushes in the front garden, well away from any vegetable plants.)
I talked about the mysterious entity that was eating our raised bed redcurrant bush in this post. Turns out that it’s now moved on to the bush that’s growing in the dustbin.
Thanks to a fellow gardener in a forum that I’m on, I’m reasonably confident that the “entity” is the gooseberry sawfly, which also likes redcurrants. There are several options from here on:
1. Pull out the redcurrant bushes and grow something else.
2. In late March/early April when the leaves come out, start checking the leaves for signs of larvae and squish any offenders. (Apparently they owverwinter in the soil underneath the bushes.) According to the Royal Horticultural Society, there are several ways of dealing with sawfly, including organic pesticides (e.g. pyrethrum), and nematodes. I’ve also heard that neem oil is a natural alternative to conventional pesticides.
So, looks as though I will either be ripping out the redcurrants altogether, or pruning them back come late Feb/early March, and going on sawfly watch in April. Fun stuff.
We have two redcurrant bushes. (Well, actually we have three – there’s another one in our front garden, doing its best to disguise itself as an ornamental deciduous shrub.) OK then, we have two redcurrant bushes in our back garden. One of them is in an old dustbin and is doing OK (see bottom pic). I picked a couple of punnets’ worth from the dustbin currant on Sunday, and have put them in the freezer.
The other bush, which is in the raised bed by the back wall, isn’t faring so well. It’s being eaten up by a mysterious pest, which has destroyed the leaves and nobbled any fruit before they had a chance to develop. The back bed is also a haven for snails; possibly it’s these which are responsible for eating the fruit. I confess I have neglected this bed – I’ve let the brambles run riot and I haven’t pruned the redcurrants, because the whole subject of pruning fruit bushes scares me. I’m going to have to get over my pruning phobia if I want to get any fruit off this bush next year, and also monitor the bush more closely in the spring for signs of any larvae/insects.
From what I understand (http://www.gardenseeker.com/pruning/pruning-redcurrants.html), you need to prune in late winter/early spring and cut back the older growth to the ground, as well as cutting any wispy side shoots from the previous year’s new growth. So this post is a reminder to get my secateurs out in early March.
PS: the bonus cat is Magnus. We’re down to just him now, since Lottie the tabby died a month ago at the age of 22 🙁
|OK, here’s a question for all you expert gardeners out there: from the picture, what is up with my runner beans? As you can see, the leaves are discoloured and patchy-looking. I’m assuming it’s some sort of mineral deficiency (nitrogen? phosphorus?) but would appreciate a bit of advice. If it’s relevant, the bean variety is good old Scarlet Emperor.
On a completely unrelated note, I am plagued with blackfly at the moment. They started by attacking the small comfrey patch in the back garden, and are now spreading to my tomatoes. Looks as though I’ll be out with the spray gun full of soapy water tomorrow morning.
The good news: I have two respectable-looking courgettes! Yay! Go me!