Latest posts by Italophile

Tomato Black Russian?

Posted: 17/04/2014 at 12:55

BER will strike any variety if the conditions are ripe for it. I'd love to know, though, what it is about the plum variety genes that make them more susceptible. One day science will get around to explaining it. As tomatoes become a more and more profitable business, particularly for seed companies, more science is applied to them. Exploding a few myths and old wives' tales along the way.

Can you identify these onions

Posted: 17/04/2014 at 08:55

Looks like that to me too.

Tomato Black Russian?

Posted: 17/04/2014 at 08:52

That's a good explanation of BER. Doesn't address that the plum varieties are more prone to the condition but that would get into genetics. Can't have everything.

Tomato Black Russian?

Posted: 17/04/2014 at 07:38

Years ago Blossom End Rot was thought to be the result of soil deficient in calcium. Add calcium to the soil was the commonly suggested solution. These days, science has determined that BER is the result of the plant's inability to distribute calcium to the fruit via its internal mechanisms. The soil can be loaded with calcium, the plant just can't get it to the fruit in sufficient quantities.

Plant stress is thought to be the cause. Irregular watering is the most common explanation but strong winds, fluctuating temperatures, etc, can also be factors.

Then there's the fact that some varieties are more prone to BER than others. The plum varieties - San Marzano, etc - can be hit by it while other varieties, in the same bed, with identical growing conditions, escape it. It's happened to me. Very puzzling. There's obviously something in the plum variety genes that makes them susceptible.

Going away for a week

Posted: 16/04/2014 at 08:52

Mmmm. They're still at the stage where they really need the routine you've established. Is there no one you can call on for help? Not sure what sort of growhouse you have, but I'd leave them inside during the day with doors/windows/whatever open for ventilation. Closed up on a sunny day, temps can double and drying out becomes a problem. They will probably cope overnight in the growhouse providing the doors/windows/whatever are closed before the sun disappears. But you'd need someone to do that.

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.

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