Saturday, 4 June 2011

A quiet war waged on the allotment

Bob keeping a watchful eye on my poor old apples

You can tell I've been home this week because both the allotment and garden are looking pretty tidy. I have to say, my garden is stunning this year with waterfalls of roses and clumps of geraniums taking centre stage, giving the house a delicious slightly decadent smell.

Down at the allotment, however, things are not going so well. Today I lifted my red onions because they had bolted. This could have been due to an early sowing or the particularly cold spring we have had but, either way, once the onions had tried to flower, I knew it was game over. So out they came and I've put some bulb fennel seeds in to see if they can do any better in my sandy free-draining bed.

Shedding no tears for my sad onions
My apples are, however, the things that are really worrying me. After a good start with a large number of flowers setting to fruit, I now have disease coming at me from all sides. The leaves have red spider mite, leaf curl and some mildew, which probably came from the self-seeded forget-me-nots I allowed to grow under the trees, and I've got the first signs of codling moth (oo er missus) to make it a clean sweep of misfortune. So today I decided to take this growing crisis in hand and did a very naughty thing by cutting back as much of the damaged growth as I dared (it being a rubbish time of year for pruning most things) to increase the air circulation in and around the trees, which at the front of the allotment I have trained into a rather pretty espalier. Then I sprayed the fruit, wrapped glue tape around the base of the trees to stop ants and the like carrying more disease up the tree, placed hormone decoys in my codling moth traps and fed the roots. I cleared as much of the diseased foliage and dropped apples from around the base of the trees as I could – this avoids continued contamination –  burnt the cut foliage and watered the trees for hours and hours. I can do no more so let's see if my efforts bear fruit.

On a happier note, I was thrilled to find frogs in my allotment pond, and the broad beans and sunflowers are coming along nicely as are the beetroot, parsnips, strawberries and gooseberries. All good.

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