London (change)
Today 17°C / 10°C
Tomorrow 15°C / 8°C


Latest posts by Italophile

Fig trees

Posted: 31/07/2012 at 08:22

Do you know the variety? There are non-fruiting varieties. It can sometimes take two or three years for a tree to mature to a fruiting stage but your three or four years should have been adequate. Assuming plenty of sun and warmth in summer, has it been fertilised? Nitrogen-heavy fertiliser can work against fruit production.


Posted: 30/07/2012 at 13:17

Sweet corn needs full sun but also decent warmth. The decent warmth might be lacking.

Rhubarb Seeds

Posted: 30/07/2012 at 13:13

Becks, sorry, but I honestly wouldn't bother with rhubarb seed. Rhubarb is one of those plants that rarely grows true to type from seed - in other words, the offspring (grown from seed) doesn't reproduce all the parent's characteristics. What's more, it takes a couple of years to get to harvest stage.

If you fancy rhubarb, look around for rhubarb crowns at garden centres or nurseries. They're produced from the division of existing plants. Much much more reliable. Spring, though, is the best time to plant crowns.

Tomato leaf problems - help

Posted: 30/07/2012 at 12:52

How many plants do you actually have?

Tomato leaf problems - help

Posted: 30/07/2012 at 12:03

Becks, I'm back from a couple of days down in Umbria, I could only access this forum on the stupid little iPod.

I don't know either variety but hunting around the internet seems to indicate they both have large-ish, regular leaves. So leaf size isn't going to help. You'll know the difference as soon as the flowers start to develop, though.

Alicante looks like its clusters are in clumps of up to half a dozen flowers, but pretty much bunched together. Cerise Cherry, on the other hand, looks like its flowers develop in long strings of ten or twelve or more. Quite a traditional cherry tomato flower pattern. So very different cluster patterns that you will tell apart immediately.

I was down in Umbria helping a friend deal with her tomatoes. I helped her set up the garden and I sow seeds for her, giving her the seedlings. I took some photos of flower clusters for you. Now these won't resemble yours in terms of the pattern in which they develop because hers are mainly beefsteak and medium-sized oblate varieties, but at least they will give you an idea:

EDIT. Having had another look at Alicante and Cerise Cherry on the internet, I would bet a very small amount of money that the CC's leaves are a bit larger than Alicante's.


Tomato leaf problems - help

Posted: 29/07/2012 at 12:54
Becks, it's just about impossible to tell varieties apart at this stage unless you have different leaf types involved - eg, a potato-leaf variety. It's a case of wait and see. Still, a valuable reminder! Always label! I also make it a practice to trim my nails before sowing different varieties. You'd be amazed how a seed can get caught under a nail and end up in the next lot of mix with very puzzling results a few months later.

A truss is just a cluster of flowers, miniscule when they first appear. You'll know one when you see one. Most cherry varieties have clusters of around half a dozen flowers either in a clump or a line. Some non-cherry varieties produce flow
ers singly.


Posted: 27/07/2012 at 19:50

Yes, you can use Dithane. It contains Mancozeb, one of the less pleasant chemicals around. It will wipe out foraging insects, but then, for that matter, so will copper sulfate, one of the ingredients in BM. By the by, I'm bemused by the decision to withdraw BM. There are many nastier products around.

Wiping out foraging insects is one of the unfortunate downsides of spraying. As I've posted here before, about the only anti-fungal spray that doesn't impact on foraging insects is one using chlorothalonil as its base ingredient. It's a synthetic, but is harmless to the insects. Unfortunately it's very hard to get in quantities for domestic use outside the US.

Talkback: Swifts

Posted: 27/07/2012 at 17:26

They're disappearing for the year around here in central Italy. On the early side, but they left early last year, too. Up till a couple of days ago you felt like you were taking your life in your hands out walking very early in the morning. They were swooping down almost to head height in some of the smaller piazzas.

Fig trees

Posted: 27/07/2012 at 16:01
Chris9 wrote (see)

Thanks for the positive response I can't wait to get one now. 

Italophile, a friend has moved to Italy and lives down south and was pleased with his fig tree so I want to surprise them when they visit with an English fig, yes a bit of competition

Obelxx, I did see Turkey Brown on one of the seed website so will aim for that tree and thanks for the planting info.

It is great to have some many experts who can answer these questions and give such good advice.  Thank to you both and have a good weekend. regards Chris

You see figs everywhere here, Chris. Down the road from us there's even one huge green fig tree growing out of a wall! It's always the first fig in the town to fruit and produces a ton of fruit.

The only secrets to growing in containers is to (a) give them a good feed with a balanced fertiliser - I usually use a 10:10:10 combination - in spring; (b) keep them well watered in summer but with very good drainage, obviously; and (c) don't start out with the container too big. Figs thrive in terms of production if their roots are contained, cramped even. Mine started life in about a 25cm pot and I potted it up a couple of years ago into a 40cm container. It's over 6' and as wide as it is tall.

It will stay in this container for a very long time. The root system can get too compacted, though. Every couple of years, early in spring, I lift it out and use a handsaw (yes, literally) to cut three or four wedges out of the mass of roots. Like taking wedged slices out of a pie, except it's like cutting into solid timber. This both reduces the root mass and rejuvenates it. I fill in the newly created space in the container with potting mix. You'd think the tree would turn up its toes in protest. No way. It gallops on.

Fig trees

Posted: 27/07/2012 at 12:31

I have a fig in a pot on the terrace in central Italy. Like obelixx, we get pretty brutal winters, though not as cold as -25. We have a covered pergola on the terrace and it goes under the pergola, against a protected wall, the container wrapped in two or three layers of bubble wrap. I wrap the tree itself in a couple of layers of heavy-duty fleece. It spends about two and a half months like this and I monitor the moisture level in the container. It averages one or two waterings with tepid/warm water during this period, and, with the container's excellent drainage, it never gets wet feet. Its now five or six years old and produces an extraordinary amount of fruit for its size.

Its sister plant - both grown from cuttings from the same tree - lives in the ground in the garden in a completely exposed position. I don't protect it in any way. It takes everything winter can throw at it and always bounces back in spring.

Discussions started by Italophile

Italophile has not started any discussions