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Archive for August, 2012

Bank Holiday Monday was a washout (again) and there was no possibility of getting out in the garden so we decided on some retail therapy – a visit to a garden centre. When we got there Thomas disappeared into one of the heated greenhouses and found some Carnivorous plants; he was fascinated by them as were some of the other children. We bought a Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea) and a Sundew (Drosera), to add to the Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia) that we already have in the greenhouse at home. 

Venus Fly Trap

The Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea) is perhaps the most well known carnivorous plant, its traps are made from special leaves that are folded in two with spines along the edges. Inside each trap there are three trigger hairs, two of these must be touched in succession for the trap to close catching its insect prey inside. The plant absorbs the nutrients from the insect and after about ten days the trap re-opens. It is not recommended that you make the traps close without an insect inside as this can weaken the plant.

Sundew

The Sundew (Drosera) captures its prey in a totally different way, each of its leaves have lots of little hairs that look like they are covered in dew but this is actually glue, when an insect lands on them it gets stuck and is then absorbed by the plant.

Pitcher Plant

The Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia) has another method of catching its prey. The leaves of the pitcher plant are shaped like a funnel with a hood over the top, the lip of the funnel is slippery, the insect lands on this and falls in, it is trapped inside by backward pointing hairs and cannot get out, then it is absorbed by the plant.

Place Carnivorous Plants in a light position, and keep them well watered with rainwater.

The next day Thomas took his plants to show his grandma and grandad and for them to ‘feed in their conservatory’ as there are a lot of flies in there!

I remember having a Venus Fly Trap when I was about Thomas’s age.

Gill

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During our two week holiday a lot of the vegetables in the garden and on the allotment have really come on and are now ready for picking.

Onions drying out

One of the first jobs on the allotment was to lift the onions whilst the weather was dry, you may remember that the allotment was badly flooded in June and my onions have suffered considerably, about 20% have gone rotten and well over half of the remainder are small with very few growing to their full size. With the forecast for more rain I lifted all the onions, filled the wheelbarrow, and brought them back home to dry out in the greenhouse away from any more potential floods. I laid them out on the staging, on newspaper, in full sun removing any outer ‘soft’ layers, I am not too sure about their winter storage potential so we are eating them now and they are fine.

Gardener’s Delight

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are ripening fast, there were only a few ready before we went away but those sunny, warm days seem to have started a chain reaction. They taste wonderful and the smell of the tomato plants takes me right back to my childhood. I have grown three varieties this year, Gardener’s Delight – cherry size, delicious in salads/lunch boxes/picnics, Alicante – medium size, ideal for slicing and cooking, Fantasio – medium to large fleshy fruits, perfect for chutney and soup. We still need lots more sunny weather to ensure that all the tomatoes ripen, as you can see in the photo I have removed most of the lower leaves to expose the tomatoes to the sun and allow the air to circulate around them, some of the lower trusses were sitting on the soil so I have put a seed tray under them to stop them rotting, keep them clean and also away from the slugs. My plants have reached the greenhouse roof so I have pinched out the growing tip (two leaves after the top truss) and any remaining side shoots this will direct the plants energy into developing and ripening the existing fruit. Regular watering is very important to prevent blossom end rot and the fruits splitting, feed regularly with tomato fertilizer.

Gardener’s Delight

If the weather is good this bank holiday weekend, get out in the garden and enjoy.

Gill

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Delicious New Potatoes

Nothing beats the taste of freshly picked fruit and vegetables and the potato has got to be at the top of the list for taste in home grown versus supermarket vegetables, especially the new potato. I hate to mention Christmas in August, but why not spoil friends and family by serving up your own freshly harvested, home grown, new potatoes with your Christmas Dinner, they will be very impressed, and they make a great and healthier alternative to the traditional roast potato.

August Planting Potatoes

Carlingford Seed Potatoes

It might sound impossible ‘growing new potatoes in winter’ but it is very easy to do and they need very little attention, one of the easiest and most popular varieties to grow is Carlingford. To be able to harvest your potatoes at Christmas they need to be planted before the end of August, which doesn’t give you much time.

Potato Growing Bags (Pack of 2) - 69 Litre

Potato Growing Bags

The best way to grow them is to plant them in potato bags or large containers in good vegetable compost. Once planted give them a good water, and place in a warm position outside where they will get off to a good start, make sure that they don’t dry out. As the weather turns colder protect the tops from any light frosts with fleece and then bring the bags/containers inside (greenhouse, polytunnel, porch, cold frame) before any damaging hard frosts and when the weather turns bad. The potato plants should have finished flowering after 12 weeks when they can either be harvested or you can cut the tops off and leave the potatoes in the compost until you need them. The benefits of growing them in bags or containers are that they can easily be moved indoors when the weather turns bad, it gives them extra protection from slugs and the harvested potatoes should be unmarked and look attractive.

Make sure that you grow enough, you don’t want to be short on Christmas Day, if you have a good crop they can be made into potato salad for your Boxing Day or New Year buffet.

Simply delicious

Gill

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