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Latest posts by Italophile


Posted: 10/08/2012 at 07:57

We love celeriac, too, but eventually gave up on it here in central Italy. They need warmth but it's just too hot for them here in summer regardless of how much water I poured on them. In my experience, a lack of root (bulb) development is usually a sign of a lack of nutrients. They're pretty heavy feeders, they love a nice, rich soil, and some fertiliser along the way. Insufficient warmth can also be a factor.


Posted: 10/08/2012 at 06:57

Or you can leave one to develop, snip it off with sharp secateurs or scissors, poke it into a small pot of damp potting mix, keep it in warm shade as you would any cutting, and you'll have a brand new plant without the hassle of starting seed and waiting. It's how I generate my autumn crops.

Fig trees

Posted: 10/08/2012 at 06:52

Looks line a nice plant, Chris. If you plan to keep it in a container, I'd pot it up into something like a 30cm container for a year or two. It's already looking rangy too. Figs in containers are better off wide rather than tall so you need to encourage side growth. In winter, when it's dormant, I'd take off at least the top third and probably more.

What are your plans for it?


Posted: 09/08/2012 at 13:20

When I last looked into it - back in Sydney - the only suggestions involved things like spraying the concentrated wee of predatory animals. The squirrels were supposed to detect the smell, fear for their lives, and flee. I never found out how you obtained such a thing.

The cages I built were very simple affairs. Three or four stakes in the ground, wrapped in sturdy chicken wire, capped with some more chicken wire. You just have to allow yourself access to the plants.

I think, though, that you're only in trouble if the squirrels actually discover the fruit. Wait and see.




Posted: 09/08/2012 at 11:59

If they try a tomato, they'll more than likely enjoy your crop before you get a chance to. I used to have the problem when I lived in Sydney. If it becomes a problem, the simplest solution is to protect the plants with squirrel-proof cages.


Posted: 09/08/2012 at 06:55

Or, in my case, the other extreme of a month and a half of baking 35C+ temps and not a drop of rain. Even with regular watering, the beetroot (in terms of size) has been a mixture of golf balls, tennis balls, with a couple of oversized oranges.

disappointing peppers

Posted: 09/08/2012 at 06:51

As a general rule it's better to pinch off any young fruit on a seedling before planting out. It lets the plant put all its energy into developing itself. But if it's later in the season, when the plant probably won't get to full maturity, no harm in leaving the fruit there for a head start.

disappointing peppers

Posted: 08/08/2012 at 16:26

No problems, greenmaid. BER is one of the most frustrating conditions with toms and peppers. Some varieties of toms - the plum varieties, like Roma and San Marzano - are much more prone to it. No one knows why.

I'd suggest, though, that weekly feeeding is too much anyway. Neither toms nor peppers are hungry plants. They will always produce more if they're left to struggle a little. Tough love or controlled neglect is the go.

Weeds and compost!

Posted: 08/08/2012 at 16:21

The problem with home composts is that they don't generate sufficient heat within to kill off the pesky seeds. In fact all my weeds go into black plastic bags (inside second, heavy-duty black plastic bags), tied up tightly and stacked out of sight on my top terrace garden. In the full sun of an Italian summer, the heat generated inside is enormous, killing off any living thing. By the next spring, I have bags of - effectively - mulch. Comes in very handy.

disappointing peppers

Posted: 08/08/2012 at 07:22

greenmaid, it looks like a condition called Blossom End Rot. It affects tomatoes, too. The science of the condition is understood - the plant is unable to distribute sufficient calcium to the fruit via its internal system. It doesn't mean there's insufficient calcium in the soil available to the plant's roots. In fact, that used to be the suspected cause and the diagnosis was always to add calcium to the soil. Science has since disproved that lore. The problem is that the plant isn't distributing the calcium in sufficient quantities internally.

What isn't yet wholly understood is what triggers the condition. It's thought that a plant being stressed - hence upsetting its internal equilibrium - is a major factor. Now, a plant doesn't need to be traumatised to be stressed. We're talking small margins. Outdoors, strong winds and fluctuating temperatures can cause plant stress. As can irregular watering patterns.

Indoors, irregular watering can also cause it, as can fluctuating temperatures, but overwatering and overfertilising can both be factors. Peppers - and toms, for that matter - can have too much of a good thing. A bit like one of us eating too much rich food.

When you say your partner has tended the peppers like babies, how often were the plants watered and fed?

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