Latest posts by Italophile

What's the secret to raising strong tomato plants?

Posted: 20/03/2016 at 10:21

Whenever you transplant, either first transplant from the propagator or later planting out to wherever they're going to grow, bury them to the point where the top leaves virtually sit on the surface of the soil. By the time you're planting out, there will be baby branches and foliage up the main stem. Nip them off cleanly, all the way up to the canopy foliage, and plant with the canopy almost sitting on the soil. All of the main stem that is buried will develop into root stock.

Tomato plants are very tough critters, more are killed by pampering than neglect. They thrive on controlled neglect. Stuff them with water and fertiliser at your peril.

Misshapen tomatoes

Posted: 20/03/2016 at 07:50

Against "catfacing"? No, there's nothing you can do except perhaps plant a bit later in the season. It's the result of lower temperatures during pollination and when the fruit is setting. The larger varieties are more prone to the uglier versions of catfacing, probably because there is a larger area capable of distorting. It doesn't affect the flavour of the tomato, you just cut away the fibrous tissue around the edge of the affected parts.

Soil for fig tree (container)

Posted: 19/03/2016 at 08:16

And don't put it into too big a pot. The root system is best contained, even to the extent that they're potbound. Every couple of years you can take the tree out of the pot, use a saw (better still, a chainsaw) to cut wedges out of the compacted root system. As if you were taking slices out of a cake. Sounds drastic but it doesn't hurt the tree in the slightest. It regenerates the root system. 

Misshapen tomatoes

Posted: 19/03/2016 at 08:11

That's serious "cat facing" on the tom on the left, a mild case on the one in the middle.

Flowers will dry up and die off in very hot weather. Leaves will wilt as well.

Misshapen tomatoes

Posted: 10/03/2016 at 09:38

Which split, Lyn? Splitting in general? Splitting is usually caused by sudden excesses of moisture, either by watering or sudden downpours. The sudden addition of moisture causes the flesh to swell and the skin, unprepared, stretches until it splits.

There are also some varieties that are prone to cracking, a different thing to splitting. This is cracking:

It's genetic. If the cracks are allowed to widen too much, you end up with the same problem as splitting - infection.

Misshapen tomatoes

Posted: 10/03/2016 at 08:11

That's a serious case of "cat facing".  See my post above (23/8/14) for an explanation. It doesn't affect the taste of the tomato overall but, when you cut it open, you'll find a line of fibrous flesh (on the skin and just below the surface) following the line of the "join". Just cut it out and the rest of the tomato will be fine.

Tomato Seedlings + Cold Nights

Posted: 29/02/2016 at 08:20

If the seedlings are ready to be potted up, don't put them back into the propagator. If they're already lanky, they will only become more so without bright, consistent light. Pot them up if they're ready, put them into a low-sided crate - the sort you get from a greengrocer or garden centre with plants in - and wrap the whole crate in bubble wrap. Put the crate in a protected, sunny spot. The bubble wrap will help to insulate against the cold and you'll be surprised how much warmth it will trap from the sunlight. Take the crate inside at night.

How best to add nutrients to the allotment

Posted: 29/02/2016 at 08:09

Carrots will cope if the manure is sufficiently aged. It's knowing how aged it is that's the problem.

Lemon Tree Leaves

Posted: 10/02/2016 at 17:45

Not just lemons, I don't use them for any pots. A pot sitting in a saucer full of water is a pot that can't drain properly.

Lemon Tree Leaves

Posted: 10/02/2016 at 17:18

A-ha! That wouldn't have helped. I never use saucers for that reason. And raise my pots off the ground on bricks to make sure.

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