Scar­let run­ners just keep on run­ning

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - LYNDA HALLINAN

SOW DWARF AND CLIMB­ING BEANS

It doesn’t mat­ter what type of bean you favour, just make sure you’ve sown enough of them to pro­vide a con­stant sum­mer sup­ply. Climb­ing ‘Scar­let Run­ner’ beans are one of my favourites be­cause they are true peren­ni­als, which means they come back year af­ter year. The ‘Scar­let Run­ners’ I sowed last year at our wee bach, for ex­am­ple, are al­ready flow­er­ing at the top of their climb­ing frame – and you can’t ask for more than a bean that does all the work for you. How­ever, if you pre­fer posh French green beans, sow an­nual ‘Blue Lake Run­ner’ now, or dwarf beans such as ‘Top Crop’. I find it bet­ter to sow dwarf beans ev­ery six weeks, rather than wait­ing for your plants to flower again af­ter their first main flush, as you never get as many beans the se­cond time around. Sow beans di­rect, in full sun, spac­ing the seeds 20-30cm apart. Keep well-wa­tered once they start to pod up as fast­grow­ing beans are the most ten­der.

WATCH OUT FOR TOMATO BLIGHT

I don’t use any sprays in my vege gar­den so I’m forced to take the wins with the losses, and never more so than when try­ing (and in­evitably fail­ing) to grow or­ganic toma­toes. Be­cause my edi­ble gar­den is en­closed by a tall, dense horn­beam hedge, it’s very shel­tered in sum­mer, which is great for ripen­ing heat-lov­ing crops like egg­plants and chill­ies, but not ideal for avoid­ing fun­gal dis­eases such as blight on toma­toes and spuds.

There are two main types of blight that at­tack toma­toes: early and late, and both are more preva­lent dur­ing hu­mid weather. They are two dis­tinct species (early blight is Al­ternaria solani and late blight is Phy­toph­thora in­fes­tans) but their names are con­fus­ing as it’s late blight – al­beit

it ar­riv­ing early! – that my plants have suc­cumbed to.

Early blight causes leop­ard­like spots on the fo­liage and rot­ten spots at the bot­tom of the fruit. This blight can be kept at bay by im­prov­ing air flow around the base of the plants by tak­ing off the older fo­liage dur­ing the sea­son, whereas late blight comes on rapidly and in­stantly ru­ins your crop. Late blight sees black­ened ar­eas on the stems, wilt­ing fo­liage and fruit rot­ting from the stem end. In hu­mid weather, the whole plant can wither, turn yel­low and turn up its toes in less than a week.

If you reg­u­larly lose your toma­toes to blight, con­sider grow­ing them in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent part of your gar­den, one that’s open to the wind.

To avoid (or lessen the im­pact of) blight this sum­mer, you can also spray with fungi­cides, such as Fun­gus Fighter or Cop­per Oxy­chlo­ride as a pre­ven­ta­tive. Spray once a fort­night dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son. When spray­ing, don’t overdo it: ap­ply­ing these chem­i­cals at higher con­cen­tra­tions than stip­u­lated on the pack can dam­age the ten­der fo­liage.

To im­prove your chances of a good crop of toma­toes, thin the lower leaves (do this on a dry day us­ing clean se­ca­teurs) and be care­ful when wa­ter­ing to soak the soil, not the fo­liage. Mulching af­ter heavy rain also traps soil mois­ture, keep­ing the plants’ roots nice and cool.

Some va­ri­eties of toma­toes are more re­sis­tant to blight than oth­ers, so ex­per­i­ment with a mix of hy­brid and heir­loom types. And don’t be dis­heart­ened by the oc­ca­sional lousy crop: some years the weather sim­ply con­spires against tomato grow­ers!

Keep toma­toes well fed from now on too, us­ing a liq­uid fer­tiliser that’s potas­si­u­men­riched for fruit qual­ity. Reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing is es­sen­tial as well, or you’ll end up with blos­som end rot.

PRO­TECT YOUR BRASSICA CROPS

Those flit­tery white cab­bage but­ter­flies are out in force, lay­ing eggs on the un­der­sides of cab­bage, This col­umn is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener mag­a­zine. For gar­den­ing ad­vice de­liv­ered to your in­box ev­ery Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­ing.co.nz cau­li­flower, broc­coli and radish leaves, which means it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore their chubby cater­pil­lars hatch and make a meal out of your plants. How­ever you deal to them, get on with it now, be it through a clev­erly timed swipe with a bad­minton rac­quet, a sprin­kle of Der­ris Dust, a spray with Ki­wicare’s Or­ganic Cater­pil­lar BioCon­trol (this only kills cater­pil­lars so is handy for codling moth and corn ear worms too) or drap­ing your beds with se­cond-hand net cur­tains or fine grade in­sect mesh. All are ef­fec­tive.

SORT OUT YOUR IR­RI­GA­TION

Check your hose (and fit­tings) for leaks or cracks, in­vest in a wa­ter timer and make wa­ter­ing a pri­or­ity or all your ef­forts sow­ing and plant­ing will come to noth­ing!

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