Summer comes to the poly tunnel early
When we (Dave, Simon, Richard and Tony) set out to erect a large poly-tunnel on the allotments in the summer of 2013 we had no idea what lay ahead.
Tony had the bright idea following a disappointing growing season the previous year and David and Simon had spotted a derelict poly-tunnel frame on one of their family caravan weekends, so the project came into being when the four of us committed in the summer to make the project happen; we never decided who was Foggy!


Polytunnel with plantsThe result from our point of view was a 60ft protected growing area which was complete in late Autumn.  We had collectively cleared the site, burnt off the stubble, then rotavated and then hand dug it once again after the tunnel was up.This clearly left us with an excellent wed free growing medium which was looking in need of planting; this we viewed from the seated social area within the poly-tunnel where we were having coffee and biscuits.

So what to plant? We didn't know what would germinate or even if plants would over winter. Selfset bean plants were brought into the tunnel, they rocketed over Christmas and then failed from Botrytis- we had not ventilated enough, (this led to a modified vent system on the doors!).  Other crops were planted by each of the group and we waited for spring to happen but oh boy dis it happen fast?

The instant heat produced by any sun and the increasing daylight hours have speeded up the growing pace so in late April we have achieved a poly-tunnel summer!  Believe it or not we have just harvested potatoes, peas, beetroot, carrots and the first strawberries of the year have been eaten.

We are learning fast and look forward to completing our first year in the poly-tunnel so we can review which crops enjoyed the tunnel environment, ready for another exciting and interesting year growing under plastic.


Water saving
Guttering on polytunnel The two large covered growing areas have come up with different ways of collecting and storing water.  The poly-tunnel boys have devised their own stick-on guttering system leading to barrels sunk in the ground. which is then pumped to barrels at ground level.



Water barrels



1000l water tank




The communal greenhouse has conventional guttering so is collecting rain water into 1000l tanks.  A 1000 litres of mains water costs over a £1 so great savings over the years are to be made.





The allium leaf miner
Allium leaf minerI have each year seen an increasing attack on my leeks of this nasty pest.
The miner tunnels down the leek causing brown lines and eventually the whole leek collapse. The pupae seen here will be obvious when you cut open your harvested leeks in the autumn.

Prevention is best achieved by covering all alliums (leeks, onions, shallots and garlic) with insect proof netting or fleece thus preventing the fly from laying its eggs on the leaves.  This is done in March/April and again in September/October.  With fast maturing alliums you can try planting after the first period of attack. 









Cabbage root fly                            Spring/summer 2012
Cabbage root fly damageFor the first time in my growing career I have been affected by cabbage root fly.  I first noticed an attack when the radish that I planted with my parsnip had moth eaten leaves and never developed.  The turnips suffered the same fate and finally the swedes which was planted some time later.
A later sowing of swede under some flease were also attacked but developed to a greater extent.  All the other brassicas appear unaffected as yet but were planted as small plants and covered with Environmesh also they had a thick layer of grass mulch.

Suggested prevention is to cover plantlets with fleece or fine mesh and use fly-mats. If infected a nematode biological control called Nemasys can be used.                       Paul


Onion White Rot
  August 2011

On harvesting my onions this year I found that in a small area close to the fence a number of my onions had white rot.  This was not a big surprise as I know that a number of other allotments suffer from this condition.
Onion white rot
Onion white rot is the most serious widespread and destructive disease affecting alliums (onions, garlick, leeks).  It is a persistant, soil-bourne fungus.  Once in the soil it is extremely difficult to control or eradicate.


Symptoms
Plants suddenly die.  Roots stunted growth.  White cottony-looking fungal growth seen on the base and sides of the bulb.

Life cycle
Small, black, round fruiting bodies called 'sclerotia'are formed which can remain in the soil for up to fifteen years.  The presence of an allium plant stimulates the fruiting body to germinate and infect new plants.  White rot is temperature dependent.  It is only active when the soil is between 10 and 20 degrees C.

Prevention
Hygiene- avoid carrying infected soil on boots, tools etc.
Use a long rotation- 8yrs.
Sow seeds rather than sets.
Dispose of infected bulbs.  Do not compost.

Treatment
A trial based on incorporating onion waste inton the infected soil appears to be effective.  The sclerotia are stimulated into germinating and die as no host plant is present.  Waste from brassicas has also been found to be effective.
(Horticultural Week Jan 2009)
Paul


A Cautionary Tale

Yellowing tomato plantI planted greenhouse greenhouse tomatoes, raised in 1 litre pots and then into 50 litre growbags as usual and was after three weeks or so disappointed to see them looking distinctly unhealthy with poor growth and yellowing foliage.  Two were so sickly I replaced them.  I had done nothing differently to previous years and the other spares given to a first year tyro were doing well (they went on to give an enormous crop well into November).  I then realised that my grobags were of a non-peat variety though this was only in small print on the bottom of the bags.  In these days of ecological science this should have made no difference but as a control I planted three small self setters from the garden in a Tomorite peat grow bag.  This was early July and too late to expect too much of a crop from them.  I persevered with the originals but the results were effectively a crop failure - pale and spindly, poor flowers-set, blossom-end rot and small fruits.  Some plants came better than others but non came anywhere near expectations.  The three self setters in the peat compost did well in every way apart from being late though there is now a large drawer of good sized fruits that will ripen until Christmas.
Tomato blossom-end rot
In August I approached the supplying garden centre to enquire (not complain) about my experience and was told they had sold pallet loads of these grow bags with no other negative comments and "Was I overfeeding?".   E-mailing the manufacturer in a similar vein produced a next day phone call from the production manager  who diagnosed a nutrition problem ; probably due to the basic difficulty  of mixing and milling  the non-peat ingredients  and ensuring  proper nutrient distribution.   He apologised, acknowledging that my experience was not unique  and offered generous recompense. 

I shall be using peat based compost whilst it is available and hoping that green technology eventually comes good.
Ken

(Editor - Readers are very welcome to comment on Ken's article on the use of peat as a growing medium in the forum)



A Strange Delivery (2012)
The water trough shut off in the spring did make a few of us gardeners anxious as the growing season was upon us and there was little movement on underground pipe repair.  We need not have worried, Seven Trent were on had with a back up plan.  A delivery of eight - two litres bottles of drinking water was placed by each trough!
Filling the trough from a bottle
Paul attempts to fill up the trough from the bottled water.

Don't Dig Peat

24 million wheelbarrows of peat are used by amateur gardeners each year.

Reasons not to use peat.

Peatlands are a precious home for rare birds, dragonflies, butterflies and plants.

Peatlands store large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Peat is a non renewable resourse. 
When a peatland is gone, its gone forever.

Peatlands reduce flooding and regulate water quality.

Gardeners can grow without it.

Join the campaign

'Don't dig peat'

http://www.idontdigpeat.org.uk
 



Cabbage root fly                            Spring/summer 2012
Cabbage root fly damageFor the first time in my growing career I have been affected by cabbage root fly.  I first noticed an attack when the radish that I planted with my parsnip had moth eaten leaves and never developed.  The turnips suffered the same fate and finally the swedes which was planted some time later.
A later sowing of swede under some flease were also attacked but developed to a greater extent.  All the other brassicas appear unaffected as yet but were planted as small plants and covered with Environmesh also they had a thick layer of grass mulch.

Suggested prevention is to cover plantlets with fleece or fine mesh and use fly-mats. If infected a nematode biological control called Nemasys can be used.                       Paul


Onion White Rot
  August 2011

On harvesting my onions this year I found that in a small area close to the fence a number of my onions had white rot.  This was not a big surprise as I know that a number of other allotments suffer from this condition.
Onion white rot
Onion white rot is the most serious widespread and destructive disease affecting alliums (onions, garlick, leeks).  It is a persistant, soil-bourne fungus.  Once in the soil it is extremely difficult to control or eradicate.


Symptoms
Plants suddenly die.  Roots stunted growth.  White cottony-looking fungal growth seen on the base and sides of the bulb.

Life cycle
Small, black, round fruiting bodies called 'sclerotia'are formed which can remain in the soil for up to fifteen years.  The presence of an allium plant stimulates the fruiting body to germinate and infect new plants.  White rot is temperature dependent.  It is only active when the soil is between 10 and 20 degrees C.

Prevention
Hygiene- avoid carrying infected soil on boots, tools etc.
Use a long rotation- 8yrs.
Sow seeds rather than sets.
Dispose of infected bulbs.  Do not compost.

Treatment
A trial based on incorporating onion waste inton the infected soil appears to be effective.  The sclerotia are stimulated into germinating and die as no host plant is present.  Waste from brassicas has also been found to be effective.
(Horticultural Week Jan 2009)
Paul


A Cautionary Tale

Yellowing tomato plantI planted greenhouse greenhouse tomatoes, raised in 1 litre pots and then into 50 litre growbags as usual and was after three weeks or so disappointed to see them looking distinctly unhealthy with poor growth and yellowing foliage.  Two were so sickly I replaced them.  I had done nothing differently to previous years and the other spares given to a first year tyro were doing well (they went on to give an enormous crop well into November).  I then realised that my grobags were of a non-peat variety though this was only in small print on the bottom of the bags.  In these days of ecological science this should have made no difference but as a control I planted three small self setters from the garden in a Tomorite peat grow bag.  This was early July and too late to expect too much of a crop from them.  I persevered with the originals but the results were effectively a crop failure - pale and spindly, poor flowers-set, blossom-end rot and small fruits.  Some plants came better than others but non came anywhere near expectations.  The three self setters in the peat compost did well in every way apart from being late though there is now a large drawer of good sized fruits that will ripen until Christmas.
Tomato blossom-end rot
In August I approached the supplying garden centre to enquire (not complain) about my experience and was told they had sold pallet loads of these grow bags with no other negative comments and "Was I overfeeding?".   E-mailing the manufacturer in a similar vein produced a next day phone call from the production manager  who diagnosed a nutrition problem ; probably due to the basic difficulty  of mixing and milling  the non-peat ingredients  and ensuring  proper nutrient distribution.   He apologised, acknowledging that my experience was not unique  and offered generous recompense. 

I shall be using peat based compost whilst it is available and hoping that green technology eventually comes good.
Ken

(Editor - Readers are very welcome to comment on Ken's article on the use of peat as a growing medium in the forum)



A Strange Delivery
The water trough shut off in the spring did make a few of us gardeners anxious as the growing season was upon us and there was little movement on underground pipe repair.  We need not have worried, Seven Trent were on had with a back up plan.  A delivery of eight - two litres bottles of drinking water was placed by each trough!
Filling the trough from a bottle
Paul attemps to fill up the trough from the bottled water.

Don't Dig Peat

24 million wheelbarrows of peat are used by amateur gardeners each year.

Reasons not to use peat.

Peatlands are a precious home for rare birds, dragonflies, butterflies and plants.

Peatlands store large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Peat is a non renewable resourse. 
When a peatland is gone, its gone forever.

Peatlands reduce flooding and regulate water quality.

Gardeners can grow without it.

Join the campaign

'Don't dig peat'

http://www.idontdigpeat.org.uk
 



Cabbage root fly                            Spring/summer 2012
Cabbage root fly damageFor the first time in my growing career I have been affected by cabbage root fly.  I first noticed an attack when the radish that I planted with my parsnip had moth eaten leaves and never developed.  The turnips suffered the same fate and finally the swedes which was planted some time later.
A later sowing of swede under some flease were also attacked but developed to a greater extent.  All the other brassicas appear unaffected as yet but were planted as small plants and covered with Environmesh also they had a thick layer of grass mulch.

Suggested prevention is to cover plantlets with fleece or fine mesh and use fly-mats. If infected a nematode biological control called Nemasys can be used.                       Paul


Onion White Rot
  August 2011

On harvesting my onions this year I found that in a small area close to the fence a number of my onions had white rot.  This was not a big surprise as I know that a number of other allotments suffer from this condition.
Onion white rot
Onion white rot is the most serious widespread and destructive disease affecting alliums (onions, garlick, leeks).  It is a persistant, soil-bourne fungus.  Once in the soil it is extremely difficult to control or eradicate.


Symptoms
Plants suddenly die.  Roots stunted growth.  White cottony-looking fungal growth seen on the base and sides of the bulb.

Life cycle
Small, black, round fruiting bodies called 'sclerotia'are formed which can remain in the soil for up to fifteen years.  The presence of an allium plant stimulates the fruiting body to germinate and infect new plants.  White rot is temperature dependent.  It is only active when the soil is between 10 and 20 degrees C.

Prevention
Hygiene- avoid carrying infected soil on boots, tools etc.
Use a long rotation- 8yrs.
Sow seeds rather than sets.
Dispose of infected bulbs.  Do not compost.

Treatment
A trial based on incorporating onion waste inton the infected soil appears to be effective.  The sclerotia are stimulated into germinating and die as no host plant is present.  Waste from brassicas has also been found to be effective.
(Horticultural Week Jan 2009)
Paul


A Cautionary Tale

Yellowing tomato plantI planted greenhouse greenhouse tomatoes, raised in 1 litre pots and then into 50 litre growbags as usual and was after three weeks or so disappointed to see them looking distinctly unhealthy with poor growth and yellowing foliage.  Two were so sickly I replaced them.  I had done nothing differently to previous years and the other spares given to a first year tyro were doing well (they went on to give an enormous crop well into November).  I then realised that my grobags were of a non-peat variety though this was only in small print on the bottom of the bags.  In these days of ecological science this should have made no difference but as a control I planted three small self setters from the garden in a Tomorite peat grow bag.  This was early July and too late to expect too much of a crop from them.  I persevered with the originals but the results were effectively a crop failure - pale and spindly, poor flowers-set, blossom-end rot and small fruits.  Some plants came better than others but non came anywhere near expectations.  The three self setters in the peat compost did well in every way apart from being late though there is now a large drawer of good sized fruits that will ripen until Christmas.
Tomato blossom-end rot
In August I approached the supplying garden centre to enquire (not complain) about my experience and was told they had sold pallet loads of these grow bags with no other negative comments and "Was I overfeeding?".   E-mailing the manufacturer in a similar vein produced a next day phone call from the production manager  who diagnosed a nutrition problem ; probably due to the basic difficulty  of mixing and milling  the non-peat ingredients  and ensuring  proper nutrient distribution.   He apologised, acknowledging that my experience was not unique  and offered generous recompense. 

I shall be using peat based compost whilst it is available and hoping that green technology eventually comes good.
Ken

(Editor - Readers are very welcome to comment on Ken's article on the use of peat as a growing medium in the forum)



A Strange Delivery
The water trough shut off in the spring did make a few of us gardeners anxious as the growing season was upon us and there was little movement on underground pipe repair.  We need not have worried, Seven Trent were on had with a back up plan.  A delivery of eight - two litres bottles of drinking water was placed by each trough!
Filling the trough from a bottle
Paul attemps to fill up the trough from the bottled water.

Don't Dig Peat

24 million wheelbarrows of peat are used by amateur gardeners each year.

Reasons not to use peat.

Peatlands are a precious home for rare birds, dragonflies, butterflies and plants.

Peatlands store large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Peat is a non renewable resourse. 
When a peatland is gone, its gone forever.

Peatlands reduce flooding and regulate water quality.

Gardeners can grow without it.

Join the campaign

'Don't dig peat'

http://www.idontdigpeat.org.uk