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Latest posts by Italophile


Posted: 10/05/2013 at 06:52

They'll be absolutely fine for three days, forgetmenot. Toms are very sturdy plants, even when young. There's a widespread tendency to mollycoddle them with overwatering and overfeeding and they just don't need it.

I remember your problem with your forgetful son from last year. For the two weeks in June you might need either to get him to keep an eye on them under threat of severe punishment or even ask a neighbour.

advice: tomato leaf spots

Posted: 09/05/2013 at 16:49

Heather, still not easy to see. Seems the site is having problems dealing with images. Anyway, it's a closer look and, yes, it could be a magnesium deficiency.

Have you been feeding the plant? Tomato fertiliser is usually high in potassium which can interfere with the plant absorbing magnesium. If you have been feeding it, stop for a while. Good old Epsom Salts is the best source of a dose of magnesium. Before you water next time, sprinkle a couple of tsps of ES onto the soil, scratch it in gently, then water well. If things improve, that was the problem. And I'd leave off fertilising it for a while.

Sugar snaps are ready, but the beds are not!

Posted: 09/05/2013 at 16:39

I've had dwarf varieties grow to 4' or more so that explains the lankiness. They'll be shallow-rooted so you could put them in containers. But they'll need support.

Sugar snaps are ready, but the beds are not!

Posted: 09/05/2013 at 15:42

lindsay, are they a dwarf variety or climbers?

advice: tomato leaf spots

Posted: 09/05/2013 at 15:39

Heather, there seems to be a problem with the size of photos uploaded to this site. Can you take much closer shots of those leaves? From what I can see, it looks like a fungal disease problem.

Leggy mint - help!

Posted: 09/05/2013 at 14:42

Mizzli, it's good advice about the warmth rising. Temps in the mid-20sC outside can translate to high-30sC inside those plastic greenhouses even well ventilated.


Posted: 09/05/2013 at 14:39

Put it this way, toms will grow outdoors with daytime temps of roughly 17C+ in full sun for at least 6-8 hours a day. They will still survive happily outdoors at lower daytime temps but will take a lot longer. The ideal is mid-20sC and higher. Again, in full sun for at least 6-8 hours a day. Overnight temps for outdoor toms need to be at least 15C to develop properly. Toms actually do a lot of their growing overnight. Again, they will cope with less, but take a lot longer.

I don't know when you're going away but, till you do, leave them out all day (protected if there's rain.) Barring any sudden massive drops in temperature, every couple of days add a couple of hours to their stay outside. It's called "hardening off", getting them gradually acclimatised to the new conditions.

Potatoes? Some English friends brought me over two first early varieties and a second early variety. We've had rain and warmth and the plants are climbing out of the ground.


Posted: 08/05/2013 at 18:39

Okay. Check the forecast ahead. Unless they're absolute babies, they will cope down to 6C overnight as long as it's not every night. They would handle 10C overnight comfortably. Put them somewhere protected from the rain. If the forecast ahead looks reasonable, I'd start leaving them outside before you go - a bit later every day - in order to get them acclimatised to the change of conditions.

Leggy mint - help!

Posted: 08/05/2013 at 11:57

Mizzli, everything needs light/sunlight to grow. I'd get them all outside into decent light if you can. What sort of overnight temps are you getting?

Of the things you've listed:

Chives, strawbs and raspberries all overwinter happily without any protection. I've had mine buried under a foot of snow and they come back. Parsley will come back, too, but I always replant every season because, I find, regrowth tends to bolt.

Mint needs some protection as I've said before.

Toms are treated as annuals. Toss them at the end of the season and start again next year. I treat basil the same way. It's so easy to grow. Ditto rocket.

Those plastic greenhouses are fine. Just bear in mind that they can generate some real heat inside in summer if kept closed.


Posted: 08/05/2013 at 11:47

The temps are the important thing, forgetmenot. If they're indoors in a sunny window, say, they will dry out quicker because they will get pretty warm from both the sun and the room itself. Any temps of double figures outside during the day would be fine. What sort of overnight lows are you getting?

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