Monday, 3 September 2018



Tomatoes reach the roof
Tomato varieties
Greenhouse crops have been growing and cropping at luxury levels following the long hot spell though watering has been a necessary and frequent task, and to control the high temperatures both ventilators and doors have been wide open. Even at night the doors were opened just enough to keep condensation down but keep resting birds out.
Tomatoes have been getting fed twice a week and grapes grown in the greenhouse border 
once a week. This year I tried some new tomato varieties alongside my regular Alicante which always gives a great crop of large tomatoes. Included were Marmande a beefsteak variety, Yellow Delight a plum type, Red Cherry and Sungold a yellow cherry variety. In previous years Sweet Million was one of my better cherry types. This year Alicante is still my favourite large tomato. Armande was a poor cropper and the misshapen fruits were not attractive. Yellow Delight was a real bully as growth outperformed all the others and had to be stopped once it reached the top of the greenhouse and wanted to climb up and over my grape vines on the other side. It gave a good yield of yellow plum tomatoes, but some were slow to turn colour and the fruit had no taste. However Red Cherry was brilliant with huge crops of small sweet fruit but Sungold gave even heavier crops of very sweet tomatoes. It was this year’s winner. However both cherry varieties had long trusses with well over twenty small tomatoes, and one Red Cherry truss had branched out with fifty four tomatoes. Now, that is hard to beat.
Grape Phoenix
Excellent growing conditions on all types sent main stems skyward. All reached seven trusses, with Red Cherry reaching eight trusses and Sungold with nine trusses before tips were taken out. Lower leaves remained very healthy so stayed on a long time before removing, but from mid August onwards I allowed some sideshoots to grow to provide healthy foliage to feed the crop.
Grapes both under glass and outdoors are having a great year. Although we will eat as much as we can, the remainder will go into demijohns for a vintage year brew. I am hoping this year, providing we get a decent autumn (dry, warm and sunny) I can achieve good wine direct from the grapes without having to add sugar to achieve ten or even eleven percent alcohol. Siegerrebe was first to ripen in mid August. It is a sweet musk flavoured grape, but attracts wasps which have to be dealt with before word gets out and the whole nest arrives for a feeding frenzy. Sideshoots are still being removed as well as a third of the leaves to let sun in to ripen up the bunches of grapes. Both Black Hamburg and Solaris are ripening up well, and outdoors Brant has masses of bunches of huge grapes. It is outstanding as it is not normally grown for grapes as they are normally quite small. Rondo, Regent and Phoenix are all having a great year and potential harvest looks very promising.
Cucumbers started off with excellent growth, but then mildew arrived to hold them back. They like a moist atmosphere, but other crops like it dry otherwise diseases get a hold, so maximum ventilation is practised which may not suit the cucumbers.
Peppers are the best ever as this hot summer is right up their street.

Freezer space is going to be tested this autumn.
Pansies normally grown for my spring display continued flowering right up till July, but then I let them go to seed. This was saved and sown, and now I have loads of young seedlings to grow on for next years spring and summer display.

Wee jobs to do this week
Land cleared early of peas, onions, brassicas and early potatoes and sown
with an autumn crop of salads (lettuce, spring onion, radish, rocket, cress, etc) will need weeding and the new rows of seedlings will need thinning. Some of the thinnings can be used to make new rows where space is available. These salads and baby beet will be much appreciated as we go into late autumn and early winter, and if we go back into mild winters these salads will be fine for many months.


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