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Latest posts by Italophile

Pollination failure in my cucumber plants :(

Posted: 21/08/2014 at 17:06

Your method is right, tracy. You have to make sure you pick up pollen - you should be able to see it on the swab - and be very careful when you transfer it to the female flower. The stigma is easily damaged. Apart from that, the process is usually best undertaken early in the morning when the flowers are freshly open. Keep trying! 


Posted: 21/08/2014 at 08:45

Bf, I think you're right to sow earlier rather than later. There are myriad ways to keep seedlings happy till they're ready to plant out. If you have a sunny spot anywhere outside you can line the wee pots up in any sort of low-sided crate, wrap it in bubble wrap, and leave them out during the day. It works for me even when temps are down to single figures. The bubble wrap brings the temp up to a reasonable level but it's the bright natural light that does the trick.

Tomatoes. Do I have the dreaded lurgey?

Posted: 20/08/2014 at 07:01

Doesn't look good, Wakou, sorry. Don't compost them whatever you do. Bag them, dispose of them.

Sweet Peppers

Posted: 19/08/2014 at 11:58

If the toms are ripening, the peppers won't be far behind. 


Posted: 19/08/2014 at 11:21

Possibly, but on a still day the spores will just drift. There has to be another explanation. I wonder whether the unaffected grower is diligent with housekeeping.

Sweet Peppers

Posted: 19/08/2014 at 08:57

They need warmth to ripen, Peter, the more the better. What sort of temps are you getting? Including overnight?


Posted: 19/08/2014 at 08:52

Ken, interesting that one neighbour suffered as you did while the other has a marvellous crop. Blight is a fungal problem and the fungal spores mainly arrive on the breeze. There's no avoiding them, they're airborne. Exactly how or why one out of three adjacent crops managed to miss the spores is a bit of a mystery. What sort of precautions did the unaffected grower take?

Tomato variety suggestions

Posted: 19/08/2014 at 08:38

MM, we've got friends in Dorset - around Blandford - and I give them seeds. They can grow beefsteaks in an unheated greenhouse. In a good summer, obviously, like last year. In ordinary summers they struggle to get a crop.

I've had a look around the UK seed suppliers for some nice varieties. I know nothing about this supplier's history or reputation but they have two excellent varieties - Anna Russian and Cherokee Purple. Both highly recommended.

Anna Russian is a dark pink heart-shaped indeterminate variety. My wife's favourite, I grow it every year. Hearts usually take a while to mature but AR is earlier than usual and is also much more prolific than a typical heart. Lovely rich but delicate flavour. The plant never looks sturdy; in fact, it looks like it could flop over at any time, but looks are deceiving. While it needs lots of tying up, it's as tough as old boots, its branches spreading like octopus tentacles.

They call Cherokee Purple a beefsteak but it's more of an oblate. Regardless, it's a delicious rich complex flavour. I gave a friend in Umbria a plant and he reckons it's the best tom he's ever tasted. I wouldn't go that far but it certainly gives your taste buds a real kick. Indeterminate, but never much more than a medium-sized plant.

They also list a couple of Costoluto varieties. I think they're the Italian beefsteaks Monty Don grows. They're the best-known Italian beefsteaks outside Italy. I've tried them a couple of times over the years and found them bland. There are many better varieties around.


Tomato variety suggestions

Posted: 17/08/2014 at 08:59

How long is your growing season, MM? Beefsteaks, being larger, can take 75+ days from planting out to maturity.

Tomato problems

Posted: 16/08/2014 at 11:20

I agree. The marks on the toms look like either hail damage or bugs having had a suck. 

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