Latest posts by Italophile

staking tomatoes

Posted: 16/05/2014 at 11:21
rosie28 wrote (see)

My problem with growing tomatoes is knowing when to stop removing the side growths.  I have grown the plants in pots  (with wigwams) - but suspect that I let them get too big.  Do these things  matter, please?

You can stop when it's clear that the growing season is coming to an end. By that stage, they're not going to develop much.

Coffee grounds

Posted: 16/05/2014 at 11:15

Used coffee grounds have lost most of their acidity during the coffee brewing process. I put ours on the compost heap.

Delphinium Soil Ammendments

Posted: 16/05/2014 at 09:01

BleuFairy, I'm Australian originally, been here 9 years.

You could use a 20:20:20. The point is that it's balanced. I've only ever found a 10:10:10 here once. One of the problems for the domestic gardener here is that there isn't a "garden centre" culture per se. Specialised agricultural supply outlets are still mainly targeted at farmers. It can be very frustrating.

For liquid fertilisers, only worry about the NPK.

Humus-rich just means plenty of organic material - garden compost, leaf mould, aged (not fresh) horse manure, etc. Apart from giving the plant roots a good healthy environment from the start, organic material drains very well.

A soil pH of 5 or 6 is acid. 7 is about neutral, and the higher the number, the more alkaline the soil. As I said, Italian soil is naturally alkaline. The Italian peninsula is basically a big lump of limestone. The water is naturally very alkaline too. Look at the build-up of lime in your jug or kettle.

In fact, it gives me problems with my tomatoes. Toms like slightly acid soil. When I plant out the toms, I mix some acid potting mix into the hole to counter the alkaline soil. Then, when watering, to counter the very alkaline water, I add a tbsp of vinegar to a gallon of water every second or third time I water.

Terriccio is what they call the soil/potting mix in bags. Avoid the cheap supermarket or Brico stuff like the plague. As always, you get what you pay for. I've used Compo, it's very good. Stick with it.

Torba means peat. Terriccio is just about always peat-based. The pH is listed on the bag more often than not. But, if not, you can be sure the terriccio is on the acid side of neutral because peat is naturally acidic. However! Because the soil you add the terriccio to is naturally alkaline, and because you'll be adding alkalinity every time you water, the acid nature of the terriccio won't be a big problem.

The plants need to be well-drained. What sort of soil do you have in its natural state? Clay-based? Sandy? Loam? Knowing what you have to start with will dictate what you have to do to it. If you're not sure, the best bet is to dig a hole, fill it with water, and watch what happens. If the water sits in the hole, you're clay-based. If it drains straight away, it's sandy. If it gradually drains away, you've got loam.

As to the fertilising, you can mix in some pelleted horse or chook manure when planting. Just keep it away from the roots. A high phosphorus fertiliser is one where the P figure is substantially higher than the N or K. Phosphorus assists flower development.


Delphinium Soil Ammendments

Posted: 15/05/2014 at 21:42

They're called Lumachicida, from lumaca for snail.

Delphinium Soil Ammendments

Posted: 15/05/2014 at 15:44

pansyface, it's much easier writing in Italian with time to stop and think! If only the same luxury were available when in conversation with a non-English speaking Italian. There's very little English spoken in our little town.

Growing Tomatoes in Pots

Posted: 15/05/2014 at 15:28

Bit blurry but it looks all right for the moment. What you'll need to remove as they appear are the laterals - the wee growths that appear at the intersection of the side branches and main stem. They first appear as what looks like a leaf but will grow into another stem.

You'll also need to stake it securely. What variety is it?

Delphinium Soil Ammendments

Posted: 15/05/2014 at 13:42

Hi BleuFairy

I'm in Central Tuscany, where are you? I only know a little about delphiniums but I can help with most of your questions.

1. Lime is calce. If you add it to soil, it makes soil more alkaline. Delphiniums like soil a little alkaline, but soil in Italy is already naturally alkaline anyway. I would be surprised if you needed to add calce.

2. You won't find fish blood and bone meal in Italy. I found blood and bone (sangue e osso) only once. Cornunghia, alone, contains too much nitrogen. The same with dried blood powder.

You can use any Balanced Fertiliser (Concime Bilanciato), either liquido or granulare. 10:10:10 would be best.

3. Delphiniums need very well drained soil. You can use Stallatico
because it will help the drainage. You could also mix in some grit/sand (sabbia) and/or fine gravel (ghiaietto molto fine) to help the drainage.

EDIT. BleuFairy, I just double-checked Stallatico. It's pelleted horse manure. I was thinking of a manure-based soil improver that looks like potting mix when I suggested using it for drainage. I can't remember what it's called here - probably something like Concime di Cavallo (horse) or Animale (animal).

The pelleted (horse or chook) manure won't hurt providing you keep it away from the roots when planting. It has low nutritional value. Your main nutrients will come from the fertiliser (concime) used later.


Tomato varieties for outdoors

Posted: 11/05/2014 at 07:42

Won't hurt to give the flowers a flick with your fingers or a brush with your hand as you go past to help their self-pollination process along.

Growing Tomatoes in Pots

Posted: 07/05/2014 at 07:14

Foodie, when transplanting to their final growing spot, either in pots or in the ground, carefully nip off all the lower wee branches and foliage. Leave only the top foliage, which amounts to the canopy. Plant the seedlings deeply, with the canopy just above the soil level. You shouldn't have trouble with roots appearing on the surface unless they go into a pot which is too small.


Posted: 05/05/2014 at 13:44

Toms will cope outdoors in overnight temps down to the higher single figures. What they won't do is develop as quickly. They need overnight temps in at least the mid-teens to develop at an optimum rate.

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