ALL POTTED SEEDLINGS NOW PLANTED IN FINAL POSITIONS – SECOND WEED IN JUNE 2011.

Rub off caterpillar eggs on cabbage IDEALLY BEFORE they hatch.

Cabbage white caterpillar eggs on everlasting cabbage – beware!

At long last I have got those module and pot bound seedlings into the soil ( courgette, spinach, beetroot, leek ) where they will hopefully grow on strongly so I can harvest in due course. Vigilance and a bit of time each day is needed to mind these young plants. Three ongoing tasks come to mind:

1. Water and feed: New way of watering this year but still using watering cans filled mainly from the rainwater butts. The new aspect is the sticking in the ground of a fair number of empty plastic mineral bottles with bases cut off,  close to the roots of where the fruit and veg plants are growing. I just water by filling these DIY ‘funnels’. If the water only drains away slowly, I stop watering as it indicates the soil is already moist and the additional water is excessive to requirements.

2. Picking food when it is ready: I am finding regular picking of lettuce leaves, peas, broccoli, spinach etc, keeps the plant producing more for future harvests. The raspberry crop is bst ever this year. Likewise the blackcurrant on the porridge every morning are a great harbinger of summer. Salads are now far more than lettuce leaves, as dandelion, nasturtium leaves and flowers, fennel, borage and any other handy edible leaves and flowers add flair to to the salad bowl.

3. Hoe and patrol for slugs and cabbage white butterflies: Hoeing is a handy way to prevent weeds competing with food crops, but it has another use. By disturbing the soil, the slim tracks laid by slugs and snails are demolished,  seriously setting back mollusc mobility. The drier the soil surface is the better.  Slugs need a wet walkway to sally forth in search of vulnerable veg. This is where the watering ‘funnels’ are a help in keeping the soil surface dry, as the water is delivered below the surface directly to the root area, in effect. So while slug numbers are down more than snails, I observe, I hope I have foiled the Garden Snail ( Helix aspersa ) and  the Common Garden Slug ( Arion distinctus ). It is a relief not having to kill offending molluscs and if they stay busy in the compost bin, then they will be providing a useful service as detritivores or as a type of horticultural alchemists, making a valuable compost from rejected organic bits and pieces.

Elsewhere, the heavy bursts af rain have spurred on the growth of hedges and bay tree which both need trimming. The early potatoes are in flower and each variety is possible to distinguish by the flower it produces, For example, Charlotte has a purple and yellow flower while the British Queen flower is white and yellow.

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