Watering and Rescuing. 13th July 2018

I’m really feeling for the farmers at the moment with this exceptional spell of hot dry weather.. A couple of days ago we drove passed whole fields of broad beans that were dying through lack of water. We are lucky at the allotment that we have water on tap and can rescue plants when we see them wilting with an extra can or two of water. We are trying not to over water as we want the plants to send their roots down rather than reach for the water at the surface. Also we are aware of the possibility of water shortages so don’t want to waste water.

Our broad beans that we didn’t think had set their flowers have turned up trumps. The beans were obviously hiding among the leaves because suddenly we were picking two colanders full every couple of days. We have been eating them cooked, raw on salads, put some down in the freezer and of course made lots of broad bean and courgette soup for winter – one of my favourite recipes from Easy Tasty Healthy.

We had our kale plants covered with netting to stop the pigeons eating them but now it’s white butterfly time and they love to lay their eggs on the back of the leaves. These then turn into caterpillars which can soon decimate a crop. We had the netting weighted down with stones at the sides but the butterflies still seemed to find a way in. I went through the plants removing the eggs which are fortunately bright yellow so easy to see, only to find that there were also lots of white-fly on the backs of the leaves which suck the moisture out of the plants. Sometimes I think that growing is more about protecting and fighting the invaders (whether they be bugs or animals) than it is about having green fingers.

I decided to spray the leaves with garlic in the hope of deterring both pests. I boiled half a bulb of garlic in some water until soft, then pressed the mixture through a sieve. I added a couple of tablespoons of this to a spray bottle, topped up with cold water and sprayed all the kale leaves. Apparently this is a good slug deterrant so I’m hoping that it’s the same for butterflies and white-fly.

At the moment though the allotment is looking good and we are picking kale, chard, lettuce, rocket, radish, broad beans, courgettes and just starting to pick potatoes, onions, beetroot and raspberries.