Monday, 14 October 2019



Crops in the greenhouse, may be well protected from the worst of the weather, so the incessant rainfall did not worry grapes, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes, but lack of sunshine has been a big problem. Sunshine is necessary to give crops
Black Hamburg Grapes slow to ripen
a decent flavour and help to sweeten up the grapes. There has been some great very warm days but they just never last very long before the rain arrives.
Outdoor crops have suffered the most. Autumn strawberries have been prolific, but botrytis rot has affected a lot of them, and many are not very soft or sweet. Some outdoor grapes are just shrivelling up. They have had enough. Last year I got enough for a couple of demijohns of wine, but crops this year will not be producing vintage wine. However my Solaris and Seigerrebe in the greenhouse were ready for picking in August so I picked a great crop and all now sitting happy in a demijohn, with fermentation completed at 14% alcohol, though I did have to add a few ounces of sugar. Black Hamburg grapes are normally ready in late
Cherry tomatoes
October but poor weather is holding back ripening and some grapes have gone mouldy. These get removed immediately before the disease spreads, and ventilation is also very important to prevent dampness building up.
Tomatoes have given very good crops, but now damp atmosphere due to lack of sunshine and too much rain has encouraged botrytis rots on fruit, leaves and some stems of Alicante. However all my cherry tomatoes (five varieties) have cropped well except Cherry Baby. It produces trusses with well over a hundred flowers, but most of these fall of so number of fruits ripening is very poor. Supersweet 100 is my best red cherry for flavour and cropping, (over 100 tomatoes per truss and most ripened) and Sungold my best orange cherry. Sugarglass is also a good cropper but flavour
Pepper Trinidad Scorpion
and texture not as good as Supersweet 100. Hopefully tomatoes will continue to crop for a few more weeks depending on weather, but then it is time to harvest all remaining fruits and ripen them indoors. The old plants can then be removed and the soil or growbag get tidied up. However ahead of this operation you can sow a few salads for planting in this space once it is available. Use winter hardy lettuce like Hilde or Winter Imperial and some spring onions and rocket.
Hydrangea cuttings
Cuttings of fig Brown Turkey and Hydrangea Charme taken in September have rooted and can now get over wintered in the cold greenhouse. They are both hardy, but some shelter will help to get them off to a good start next year. Other cuttings of geraniums and Impatiens taken earlier to keep good varieties going for another year are better taken out of the greenhouse before frosts arrive as they are not hardy. A windowsill in a warm room is the best place for them. You can let them flower to give an attractive house plant, but in mid winter it is best to remove all flowers to keep growing shoots sturdy.
Peppers sown in early January indoors in a propagator soon germinated and were then potted up and
Rooted fig cuttings
kept on a windowsill till early May before planting in pots in the greenhouse, as well as in garden planters and hanging baskets outdoors. They are quite successful outdoors in Scotland even with our unpredictable climate, but need starting off indoors, and for good plants they need a long growing season. Keep an eye on the outdoor varieties as snails are quite fond of Pueblo chillies from Mexico. Most garden centres now stock a wide range of peppers as plug plants from mild to searingly hot, such as the Trinidad Scorpion (third hottest on record) If you wish to try out the hottest go for the Carolina Reaper, but be careful !!! For storing peppers,
they can be dried and ground into flakes in a food processor, pickled, and my favourite frozen.  

Wee jobs to do this week
Snails, caterpillars and mealy aphids on sprouts

Look after the winter vegetables to keep the kitchen supplied over the coming months. Sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale are still prone to attacks from slugs, snails, caterpillars and mealy aphids. Check the growing points, right into the centre and destroy any pests found. They are all easily found as they nibble young leaves. Plants are now a few feet tall but start to drop older leaves. Remove these from the ground as well as any weeds as they give shelter to slugs and snails.

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