We are not great vegetable gardeners but I have always managed to raise lots of tomatoes. This year, starting with the seeds of the excellent tomatoes I had last year, I have had problems. The plants have been strong and healthy but the tomatoes are not ripening so quickly. They are very large fruits and they taste good. Last year the fruits were of a more even shape and I wonder if last year the bumble bees have been doing a bit of cross-pollination, giving me a different result this year.
I should not complain as they are starting to ripen now and I should have enough to provide enough tomato coulis to last us over the year.
This year,my sister sent me Golden Sunrise tomato seeds and I reluctantly put in two plants. Actually, they gave great plants, well shaped fruit and ripened normally. Of course, it goes without saying that my Sungold cherry tomatoes have been providing me lots of fruit for ages.
I think I will not keep the seeds of these tomatoes for next year and I would be grateful for the name of a good “heat resistant” tomato for next year.
My next enigma comes from the Pepper seeds “Havana Gold” sent to me by my sister. These, unfortunately, germinated very easily from a few seeds. As I am not sure what to do with them, I thought I would grow one plant as an ornamental in a pot and I put the other three into the garden to die quietly.
I quickly noticed that the pampered plant in the pot was being out paced by the plants in the garden, so I stuck it in beside them.
If you look carefully, you can see the small pepper plant between its sisters and the aubergine plants. I cannot understand why the potted plant has stayed stunted. Any answers?
The aubergine plants were bought and put in at the middle of May and are only now starting to grow and flower. (?).
The next enigma is the cucumbers. We were given the seeds by a friend, as we both like these little cucumbers, and he brings the seeds from Lebanon. To be economical with the seeds, we decided to start the plants off in pots. Nothing. Replanted. Nothing. Perhaps the seeds are too old now? So we stuck them into the ground, much too late and they grew like Jack and the Beanstock plants to give us lots of cucumbers.
I would be grateful if anyone had any ideas of what might be happening.
I do have good news. We scrapped the raised bed for the Butternuts (here in S.W. France it is much too dry for raised beds, I think) and let them run over the strawberries that I have ceded to the slugs. This works much better and I am going to have plenty by the autumn.
The raspberries, both the gold and red, have fruited again – many thanks bumblebees for the sterling pollination effort. I find the raspberries much less frustrating than the strawberries.
As always, Kourosh manages to find things in the garden. This is a long-horned beetle – pretty obvious – and I had a problem getting a good clear photo and keeping its antenna in focus. The coin is a one euro, about the size of a pound coin.
The Cerambyx scopolii lays its eggs in a variety of wild forest trees and the larvae bore into the tree and can excavate galleries of up to 8-10 cm. A heavy infestation would be harmful to trees or plantations. The adults eat pollen but I have yet to see it any on flowers. I think they keep to the forest flowers such as elders and hawthorns and the umbellifers.
Yesterday, was the find of a caterpillar of Acherontia atropos outside our back door on the grass. I recognised the funny spike on its rear and Kourosh Googled the photo to get the identity of the Death’s Head moth. I checked out, on the web, what it might eat and came up immediately with potatoes. I thought – not in our garden! However, looking further I saw that it would be tempted by any of the solanacea, such as Deadly Nightshade.
I do have some in the garden and there is plenty outside in the woodland. It has been recorded on other plants so I do not think it is as fussy as that.
This huge caterpillar will turn into the Death’s Head Moth. This strange moth has the ability to fool bees to allow it to enter their hives and steal their honey.
We have already found the moth near our beehives, so click the link if you are interested to see the adult moth.