SRAA Ė The Plot Thickens - an occasional observation from plot 17       November 2013

Iím pleased to report that my runners did manage a second flourish but unfortunately so late they soon became a bit too tough & stringy and only really good enough to provide seed beans for next year.
The Ďearlyí raspberries carried on growing Ė and growing, and growing, until most were about 2-2Ĺ metres tall, but they didnít provide much fruit at any stage.
On the other hand the later fruiting varieties (name unknown) did something Iíve never seen before - by having blossom, new buds, immature fruit, perfect ripe fruit and mouldy fruit all together on the same cluster simultaneously.
Of course that meant that the only way to harvest perfect fruit was to stand there and wait for each one to ripen, which, as I have a day-job and one or two thousand other things to do elsewhere, was obviously impossible, so I lost as much as I picked.
Curiously too - they were covered in what Iíve always known as shield beetles, stealth-aircraft shaped creatures that lay opaque egg balls in bundles a bit like frog spawn without the jelly.
The beetles are usually green or grey but the eggs are day-glo green or orange and often found behind our curtains at home !
Although generally referred to as beetles, theyíre actually Hemiptera, which is something different.
We have a native ĎCommoní green variety (which usually has a brown rear end) but over the past ten years or so an invader from Europe, bigger and all green (often with a ring of pink spots) has appeared in London and a few other locations down South.
Yet another European invasive species, introduced I suppose by a combination of human travel, imported food, climate warming and with that, a variation of traditional wind patterns Ė in other words itís us humans again !

Iíve also noticed that itís been a bad year for whitefly Ė or a good year for the whitefly themselves Ė touching almost everything having a large green leaf smothered me in a cloud of tiny wings, a miniature murmuration .

With the earlier red ants all over the raspberries, more leatherjackets than Iíve seen before trotting through the strawberries and now white fly inside my (non-) protective netting my organic credentials were under pressure, so I sought advice from the great ethereal gardener, Google, which referred me to the RHS, where I found a very helpful article listing many proprietary potions categorised into groups of their chemical properties and their applications. Hereís the link -
http://www.rhs.org.uk/media/pdfs/advice/pesticides


Blight arrived in October as soon as the rain appeared and temperatures dipped so I had an end-of-season couple of hours pulling out all the tomatoes and those failed runners. Then I culled the Triffid raspberries down to about 300mm ( a foot in old money), partly to be able to clear between them, but mostly so that I can select new shoots and begin to train them into serried ranks for Spring growth - something now a year or two overdue.
Iíll then do some serious sorting out of the strawberries which have run away a bit this year; they need some significant thinning and some restoration of narrow access pathways between them. Although thereís a big pile of wood chippings in the car park currently, I must try the old method of using straw before winter weather arrives; it will be interesting to see if straw not only insulates against frost but also deters leatherjackets and red ants, those ants which caused me so much aggro in the summer. If not, back to the RHS link !

And so into Autumn and the first real gale for some years; not even half the wind speed of the mega-tornados that have devastated the Philippines, Taiwan & China recently but strong enough locally to push some trees over.
On the allotments, damage was much less than I anticipated. Just for once I was ahead of the game having hurtled down to the plot to pull the bean poles and weigh down anything that might fly away, but there were a couple of lightweight sheds on their sides and a roof off by the morning but otherwise not much more than a general scattering of anything not nailed down.

shed

I always think of this time of year as being restful for the allotments, without the vigorous growth of Spring & Summer. For me though, this is the period for most work to be done; lots of digging, especially to clear most of those late weeds but also the discovery of yet another bucketful of potatoes, missed despite two apparently thorough diggings to lift the crop.
Iím also trying to be better organised, better prepared for my 2nd year on plot 17. Unfortunately that requires some significant uprooting of old fruit bushes, then dividing and relocating them. I also now need to move a vast pile of concrete rubble from the back end (dumped two or three years ago by an abutting house) to clear an area to put a shed onto; That has been made possible by the literally extra-ordinary hard work that my neighbours Brian & Wendy did in clearing the pile of large concrete lumps that I have been trying to cajole SADC to take away. Iím very grateful and indebted to my chums even though it does now mean that I have no excuse about the other pile of smaller rubble. Moving the shed will leave a space to move raspberries into, which moves the strawberries, which in turn gives me somewhere for the divided gooseberries & black currants...... and so on.

It never ends !

All the best
DT plot 17 8 Nov 2013
Read blog entry Aug/Sept 2013
Read blog entry 10.June.2013
Read blog entry 17.April.2013
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