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Latest posts by Italophile


Posted: 27/08/2012 at 16:11

The shops are full of them!

New site - bugs

Posted: 27/08/2012 at 11:24

I'm dreading receiving the email backlog in one hit. There will be hundreds of the beggars.

Fig crop drop

Posted: 27/08/2012 at 09:31

Figs in containers are usually fairly easy given some basics.

(1) Keep the roots well contained. Mine, now five years old, grown from a cutting, spent its first couple of years in a 25cm pot. It's now had three years in a 40cm pot and produces happily every year. I might step it up one size next year.

(2) It needs a very sunny spot in summer with protection from strong winds if they're around. Water daily if need be in hot weather. With our temps constantly in the high-30sC this summer I've been watering twice daily.

(3) If you get cold winters, it needs protection. I wrap the container in a couple of layers or bubble wrap, the tree itself in a couple of layers of heavy-duty fleece, and park it against a protected wall under the pergola on the terrace. Otherwise, indoors with plenty of light - and protection if need be - will do the job. The key is to monitor the moisture levels over winter. Mine gets at least a couple of good drinks of lukewarm water over the winter period.

(4) They're not big feeders even in containers. I give mine a dose of balanced fertiliser in spring and that's it.

(5) Once they're established in their final container home, give them a root prune every couple of years in spring. The pruning sounds brutal but it's (a) necessary and (b) the tree thrives afterwards. Remove the tree from its container - which can be hard work in itself - and use a sharp handsaw to cut wedges from the root ball as you would slices from a pie. It can be hard work, too, because the root ball is pretty solid. I usually take out about three good wedges. Return the tree to the container, filling in the newly-created space with whatever medium you're using. Pack the medium down well to get rid of any air pockets and water.


Fig crop drop

Posted: 26/08/2012 at 13:42

Sorry, I've got a fine crop. You've nailed a couple of good possibilities with non-pollination and temperature fluctuations. Lack of water in warm weather or irregular watering are usually the other culprits. How does your watering compare with your FIL's?


Posted: 25/08/2012 at 17:37

lynne, you need warmth for them to ripen, not necessarily direct sunlight. Anything above low-20sC is optimum. The lower you go, the longer they will take.

Talkback: How to grow sweet peppers

Posted: 25/08/2012 at 17:31

Well, there you go. Peppers - or toms, for that matter - in containers just don't need daily watering unless they're in full sun all day and it's about 35C. With feeding in containers, you only have to allow for the fact that watering will gradually leach out the nutrients you add when you feed. It doesn't happen overnight, though. It might barely happen within a week with daily watering. Even if it does, the plants need a break from nutrients. They need to cope for themselves. And they will.


Posted: 25/08/2012 at 12:37

If trailing, they're likely to be cherries or something similar, so don't expect large toms. If the weather is warm enough they will end up the same size.

Talkback: How to grow sweet peppers

Posted: 25/08/2012 at 07:41

I'd lay off the water and food on the toms, too. Ripening is solely down to temperature. The fruit doesn't need direct sunlight. Optimum temps for ripening are low-20sC and higher. The lower the temps, the longer they will take. As a very very very general rule of thumb, they usually take 4-6 weeks from the time they begin to change colour from the darkest green.

Talkback: How to grow sweet peppers

Posted: 24/08/2012 at 18:35

Peppers are almost identical to tomatoess in that they do better if left to struggle a little. Tough love or controlled neglect, call it what you like. I wouldn't feed it more often than every three or four weeks.

Looking at the colour of the fruit and the amount of colour on the stems, I think it's probably a variegated variety. Variegated varieties can get very colourful.


Talkback: How to grow sweet peppers

Posted: 24/08/2012 at 15:14

Mmmm. Far from lacking nutrients, it's probably getting too many. Once a week is too often. What variety is it? Some variegated varieties will produce colours like that.

Is that its normal position? How much light is it getting?

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