The bad harvest reports in the news this year prove, once again, that farming is very different from organic kitchen gardening. Not everything did well in the garden, but in general, I have to admit it was my best year ever. The brassicas suffered but are recovering now. My fault entirely, I should have covered the cabbage patch with fleece to prevent the cabbage white caterpillars making flitters of the lovely healthy green leaves. Such is life, thankfully the rainbow chard leaves have kept me going as a fall back leafy vegetable. Meanwhile, everything else has come good, more or less, apples, blackcurrants, peas, beans, beetroot, basil, parsley, potatoes etc. Leeks coming along nicely for harvesting over the winter and early spring hungry gap.
The glut at present is the Black Plum Tomato crop (Lycopersicon lycopersicon). I bought seeds from www.irishseedsavers.ie and they are described as ‘productive heirloom from Russia. A cordon, ripening from mid-August. Rich red mahogany plum-shaped fruits, delicious in salads and sauces’. The south facing greenhouse, rich soil and a regular comfrey liquid feed gave these Russian plants a good chance to produce prolifically. Glad they are good for sauces, as they will all find their way into various dishes requiring bruschetta topping
Black Plum Tomatoes on one of four plants, two in the ‘phone box’ and two more in the ‘Fingal Greens Greenhouse’. South facing garden helps tomatoes ripen fully on the cordon.
, pasta sauces and for the remainder, good old chutney. Thank you people of Russia ( and the Irish Sed Savers Association in Scarriff) for the ‘black plum tomato’.
Large White Cabbage Butterfly
This is the week when I bought an 8m x 6m garden net for €8.50 from Charlie Corr’s my local hardware shop. I need it to protect my cabbage patch from the alluring but potentially devastating cabbage white butterfly. Although this little creature is very soft on the eye, unfortunately it’s offspring are very hard on the cabbage.
I have posted a video on this site showing the cabbage patch and the whole back garden at the end of June with before and after shots showing 9 bamboo sticks, topped with 9 upside down empty plastic water bottles holding aloft the netting once it is tied at the centre supported by a central taller bamboo. This ‘net tent’ is held down by 8 old tent pegs around the edge.
Two species are worth remembering here. The Large White and the Small White. The Large lays its eggs in clusters on the underside of brassica leaves which are easy to detect and destroy if you spot them in time by rubbing them away with your thumb. The Small White differs by laying its minute eggs singly on the underside of brassica leaves. Trouble is, if you do not spot it in time, each resulting caterpillar begins its eating odyssey at the heart of a cabbage and only appears on the outer leaves when extensive damage has been done to the plant.
It is for these reasons that I bought and erected the net ( with a little help from my friends, thanks Lorcan and Ciaran). I still have to lift the edges to retrieve slugs and snails at night by torchlight before bedtime. However the net is still loose enough to not impede the watering can during the almost daily early morning watering routine.