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Latest posts by Italophile

Kaffir lime help

Posted: 16/04/2014 at 08:33

K'lee, treat your Kaffir as you would any other citrus. Water from the top, use a commercial citrus fertiliser according to the instructions. Most importantly, the mix needs to be very very well drained.

Tomato Black Russian?

Posted: 16/04/2014 at 07:41

Christopher, I grew Amish Paste years ago back in Sydney to try them out. They're a meaty but pretty bland variety, not a lot of juice. Best for use in sauces.

You only need a single, sturdy stake to support each plant. They come in all sorts these days, including aluminium. I stick to timber for sturdiness, and, for plants that I know to be big blokes, use 7' stakes. The bottom foot to 18" of it is driven into the soil for a solid anchor. For tying up, try to use something with a bit of give in it. Tying too tightly with a rigid material risks cutting into a stem as it grows and develops in size.

If you're thinking of saving seeds from one of your pure varieties, be aware of the potential for cross-pollination. If you've got plants adjacent to each other, and insect activity, cross-pollination is on the cards.

It's a good idea to "bag" the fruit you want to save seeds from. I buy packets of those ankle-length tights/stockings things. Cut off the bottom 3 or 4 inches so the toe-end creates the bag.

Select a truss of flowers. The key is to do this before any of the flowers open. Once open, they are vulnerable to foraging insects. Nip off any foliage on or around the truss that will end up inside the bag. Any foliage you leave will only grow inside the bag and crowd things.

Slip the bag over the truss, enclosing all the flowers, and tie it closed around the stem. Don't tie too tightly, just secure the bag to the stem. If you see any foliage developing inside the bag, slip it off and remove the foliage.

The bag only stays in place until you see that one or more of the flowers has set fruit. Once the fruit has set, there's no more danger of cross-pollination. Remove the bag and nip off any flowers that didn't set fruit. Importantly, tie something like some coloured thread or wool to the truss to identify it as the one you bagged. By the time you come to harvest the bagged fruit to save the seed, the plant will have grown, changed shape, and you'll never know which truss was bagged. As I know to my cost.

Not all flowers set fruit so it's a good idea to bag several trusses on a plant to increase your chances.


Problem with Onion Seeds

Posted: 16/04/2014 at 06:44

That's true. Years ago a new packet of Bedfordshire Champion seeds produced about three seedlings for me.

These days I've given away growing them from seed. They can take a long time till planting out stage. I grow from seedlings (as distinct from sets).

Going away for a week

Posted: 16/04/2014 at 06:32

Georgie, the temps are important. What are you getting day and night?

Problem with Onion Seeds

Posted: 15/04/2014 at 08:43

How old are the seeds, Les? I've found the onion seed germination rate drops off with year-old seed, even more with two year-old seed, and so on. Don't sow too deeply, keep them warm, keep the mix barely damp (not wet), and wait.

Going away for a week

Posted: 15/04/2014 at 08:31

How advanced are they, Georgie? And what sort of day and night temps are you getting?

When is the last time to sow tomato seeds

Posted: 15/04/2014 at 08:06

There are a number of super-early varieties. They hail mainly from Northern Europe where growing seasons are short to the point of almost non-existent.

Years ago in Australia, out of curiosity, I tried one of the better known of them, a Czech variety called Stupice (pron. Stoo-pee-cha). It matured in around 50 days. The best that could be said was that it was red. Virtually no flavour. Typical of the super-early varieties.

They're basically for growers in inhospitable climates for whom any tomato is better than nothing.

Tomato Black Russian?

Posted: 15/04/2014 at 07:44

Leaders are the main stems with the growing tips. It's common practice to restrict plants to two leaders.

I'm a bit baffled by the last frost advice, too.

Growing tomatoes indoors

Posted: 14/04/2014 at 08:48

Well done, Mark. Toms come way in front of kiddies' needs in my opinion.

Whether to cover or not depends on the temperatures. If temps are in, say, the teens, leave them uncovered. The plastic walls of the box will generate a pocket of warmth anyway. If temps get down to single figures, put the lid on but leave it ajar (so to speak).

Dov, sowed mine in late Feb, a bit later than usual. Spring has sprung here, so they're out on the terrace most days in temps of high teens, low 20s. They spent their early days inside under lights so some of them got a bit spindly. Recovering now, though.


Growing tomatoes indoors

Posted: 13/04/2014 at 09:04

The pot size doesn't matter. They're suffering from insufficient bright light. While the windowsill appears to be a light spot, you can see the seedlings leaning desperately towards the window in search of more light. That's the tell-tale sign.

Mark, you can get away without a greenhouse at this stage. All you need is a naturally sunny outside area. Get one of those small plastic or wooden crates from a greengrocer, place the pots into it, and park them outside in direct sunlight. If daytime temps are down to single figures, cover the crate in some clear plastic or bubble wrap. A mini-greenhouse. Leave them out as long as possible, to get as much sun as possible, bring them inside overnight.

The longer you leave them where they are, the more their future is compromised. Oh, and lay off watering them, too. Let the mix dry out between waterings.


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