Note the semi-colon in the title: it was a bit “eats, shoots and leaves” when I had previously used a comma. Why are you developing woodlice, Mrs SVG asked. She was right, but instead of starting from scratch I decided to patch up a perfectly serviceable sentence with a sticky plaster form of punctuation. I beg your forbearance, as I continue to mangle the English language.
I am a better gardener than I was when I started. That is practically a given, very few people are worse at something years after they started. But I am still making daft mistakes and I still haven’t developed the sensitivity to the soil and my plants that would let me understand the setbacks that take place in my back yard. For example, what conditions would give my plants browned leaf edges and tips? Is it too cold at night or is too hot? Or is it both, or hot sun with a cold wind? It turns out I still haven’t developed the skills and sensitivity to work out what is going on. It is made worse in that my gardening was flourishing in March and April, but for some reason everything has come crashing to a halt in late May.
Well the plants that were in the garden in March and April were overwintered plants and therefore hardened over many months to less than ideal conditions. When the first glimmer of Spring arrived, those plants shot away with all those resources they had carefully stored over the winter. As those plants were eaten and replaced by new Spring and Summer plants, the garden changed and seemed to slow down. I, of course, covered them with cloches to see through the transplant stage, but they got yellowy brown tips whether they were under cloches or not. It was not some strange disease, but under the cloches they got too hot and where they did not have a cloche they got too cold. A sensitive gardener would’ve known to put the cloche on at night and take it off in the morning, but I guess I am not that gardener.
I noticed that those plants I planted in Spring that I carefully tended, continually checking up on them and pampering them did well and put on growth. This would tie in with the idea that ‘the best manure is the gardener’s shadow’. That is not the only folksy advice I have realised is true. Take: ‘there are no gardening problems the solution to which is not bulky organic matter’. I would agree that most problems are solved by bunging on a load of compost as a mulch, but I would also add, a little watering in hot weather does the trick as well. I was heavily influenced by permaculture when I started my first garden. One of its most prized ideas is that you can use the earth to store water and let the earth release this water throughout the season. You know swales and that. I disagree with this when it comes to vegetable growing and I wish I had come under other influences when I first started.
After starting this post yesterday I have since gone out to get two new cucumber plants from B&Q and a new chilli: ‘Aji Delight’. The first two I had to buy because it is probably too late to sow new cucumber seed, and I want cucumbers to eat this year. They are pretty plants to look at as well, in my opinion. The third plant is a chilli from the Aji family. I grew an Aji last year, it cropped really, really well and not just that, it overwintered without any extra light or heat (apart from a patio window and the same level of central heating as us). Which means if I can keep it for several years, and it crops well, then it justifies the expense of buying plants as opposed to sowing seeds. Aji ‘Delight’ has the same shaped fruits (according to the photograph on the label) as the other Aji (‘Lemon Drop’), but Lemon Drop is a hot chilli and Delight is a mild one. I’m hopeful I can overwinter Delight, as well as overwinter, for a third year, the Lemon Drop.
I would like to know if anyone has a non-deadly way of discouraging woodlice. The little, grey bugs make me laugh, so I don’t really want to massacre the hundreds that are nibbling, annoyingly, at my greenhouse plants. Comment below if you have anything.
I have some more youtubes for your delectation:
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