The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Thirsty work


Ithought I had put the early tattie story to bed after two references within a fortnight – but it just won’t go away.

Now we have a stushie about the definition of a “new” tattie.

How can they be advertised as such, having been stored for several months so that they can fetch a higher price at a different time of year?

You know that old Scottish saying: ‘It’s no whit ye say, it’s the wye ye haud yer moo!’

Marketeers can make you believe anything, or so it would seem; either that or we are just too naïve, too easily taken in by these smooth- tongued operatives.

Anewtattie– sometimes referred to as a scraping potato – is one in which the skin hasn’t set.

When some varieties are harvested the skin may be f l aky; others may be smooth but so thin you can scrape it off or indeedrubi­t off with your fingers. End of story.

Now to a relative of the potato – the tomato.

If ever there was a season when I was glad to have installed a semi-automatic watering/feeding system this is it.

I can tell people have had watering troubles this year by the number of questions about Blossom End Rot in the tomato crops – sometimes appropriat­ely referred to as black bottom.

It is an annual problem, but this year has been exceptiona­lly bad because of the long warm days causing glasshouse temperatur­es to remain pretty high for hours. As a result the plants use up a great deal of water.

If the compost dries out for a time before being watered again, the problem will occur.

In other words, it is brought on by swings in availabili­ty of water to the plant.

Maybe only one truss of fruits will be affected. Remove the damaged ones – they will not get better.

The point is, if these conditions don’t arise again, the next truss of fruits will be OK.

The problem is exacerbate­d by the move away from soil-based composts which could hold water for longer periods.

Several of the sundries catalogues will carrydetai­ls of the Autopot system of semi-automatic watering.

I have a copy of Mr Fothergill’s 2013 Garden Equipment catalogue in front of me, and there on page 10 is illustrate­d what they call the Easy 2 Grow Kit.

The basic two-pot model shown costs £34.95, with the option to add an extension (another two-pot unit) for £24.95.

The unit we have at Beechgrove, and the one I have at home, has two extension units and that enables me to grow six plants.

With careful maintenanc­e, the system should last for several years and fully justify the initial outlay.

The system is gravity fed, so no power is required, and all the connectors are the simple push-in type.

If you fancy something like this, I recommend you go on the internet where you will find Autopot Irrigation Systems.

Prepare to sit back and be amazed at the potential for using this technique.

My reservoir is sitting on a four-inch concrete block but I noted that they recommend six-inch elevation. This is obviously not critical because my system does work well.

During the hottest part of that dry spell I was to be away for four days.

I filled the reservoir before I left andtherewa­sstill a reasonable amount of liquid available when I returned, possibly enough for another couple of days.

How do you deal with feeding?

Answer: I topupthe tank using a watering can and after a few weeks I add an appropriat­e amount of liquid feed to each can full of water.

Yes, that means the plants are getting fed all the time.

The present liquid feed instructs methat, when the plants have set the fourth truss, add 20ml of concentrat­e to nine litres of water and feed at every watering.

Another common problem in hot weather is the condition known as dry set.

The little flowers appear to open up as normal and then wither away. Consequent­ly, no fruit is produced.

The name of the condition explains the problem. It is caused by having a dry atmosphere in the glasshouse.

Although the tomato plant is self- fertile, the pollen still has to ripen and burst to fertilise the ovary, and to do that there needs to be moisture in the atmosphere.

If you can’t be there to splash the water around, it pays to leave some trays of water about the floor, under the benches, etc, during hot weather.

 ??  ?? The Autopot system in place
The Autopot system in place
 ??  ?? The two tray layout
The two tray layout
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