How To Grow Chillies and Peppers From Seed

Hi Guys

Do you enjoy the crunch of sweet bell peppers in your salad or the delicious sweet taste in your stir fry or even a little bit of  heat from some chilli, then why not grow your own? Here is how:

There are so many different varieties of Chilli and Pepper seeds to choose from, whether you like them sweet or hot.

There are so many different varieties of Chilli and Pepper seeds to choose from, whether you like them sweet or hot.

 

 

Both the Chilli pepper and the Bell (Capsicum) Pepper are from the same family so the following instructions on how to grow them are the same.  They are not the easiest seed to germinate and can take up to 21 days to pop their little heads above the soil  but with a little patience you will soon be reaping the benefits of growing your own peppers.

As peppers need a really long growing season it is best if you start your seeds off around February (in Ireland) , growing them any earlier would not be of any benefit as they will be ‘leggy’ as the light condition would be too low.  Alternatively you could, as I do use grow lights and bottom heat (heated mat) which will hopefully give the seeds the perfect condition for germination.

Fill your seed tray, cell tray or modules almost to the top with a good quality seed compost, firm in slightly and carefully pop your seeds on the top.  Cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite and place in a propagator, if you don’t have one then a plastic  bag or cling film will do the job too 🙂 Peppers need a temperature of around 21 degrees c for successful germination.

You will have all seen what a pepper seed looks like when you cut into your chilli or bell pepper.

You will have all seen what a pepper seed looks like when you cut into your chilli or bell pepper.

 

Remember to label your peppers or you wont know what you've got growing on ;)

Remember to label your peppers or you wont know what you’ve got growing on 😉

 

Cover your seeds lightly vermiculite and gently water in.

Cover your seeds lightly with vermiculite and gently water in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The seeds can be slow to germinate, so, as I said before, be patient and wait ;). and soon you will see them pop their heads up.  Once they are about an inch or sow tall you can gradually take the propagator lid off.  I normally take it off during the day and pop it back on at night for a few days, remembering they still need light and heat but will cope with slightly cooler conditions of maybe 18 degrees c.

These seeds are just about ready to be potted on into 3" pots or cell trays.

These seeds are just about ready to be potted on into 3″ pots or cell trays.

Carefully 'prick out' your seedlings as they are very delicate and the stem can break very easily!

Carefully ‘prick out’ your seedlings as they are very delicate and the stem can break very easily!

 

 

 

Make a small hole in your compost and carefully pop your seedling in. Gently firm around and water in.

Make a small hole in your compost and carefully pop your seedling in. Gently firm around and water in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seedlings will need to be pricked out and  transplanted into 3″ pots when they are large enough to handle.  Then kept on a warm windowsill until mid April to early May, when they can be put into your greenhouse or poly tunnel. I sit my pots on top of the raised  planters in my poly tunnel as the soil is nice and warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once your peppers reach about 6″ to 8″ they are ready to go into their final pot or grow bag, or for those of you lucky enough to live in a warmer location, they can go into the ground.  If planting in grow bags I would put maybe 3 per bag and if using pots (around the 10ltr size), only one per pot.  The larger bell peppers will need supporting as the plants can grow quite big and the fruits can hopefully, be heavy :).

These peppers are now about 4 months old and are finally ready to be potted on into their final position, in my case into pots but grow bags or directly into the ground is just as good.

These peppers are now about 4 months old and are finally ready to be potted on into their final position, in my case into pots but grow bags or directly into the ground is just as good.

Carefully take your young plant out of its pot

Carefully take your young plant out of its pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a well in the middle of your pot, pop your young pepper plant in firm in gently.

Make a well in the middle of your pot, pop your young pepper plant and gently firm in.

Soon you will start to see the first flowers appear and this is when you need to start feeding your peppers with a good tomato fertilizer (or similar).  Bell or Capsicum Peppers do not like to be waterlogged or indeed left to dry out, so always water little and often to keep the soil evenly moist.  I usually water and feed my peppers around the same frequency as I feed my tomatoes.  However if you like your chillies hot then water only when the leaves start to wilt as these plants are originally from hotter climates and will produce the best chilies if they are given a similar environment, ie: left to dry out before watering again (stressing the plant).  It is also a good idea to keep your sweet peppers and your chilli peppers apart as they will freely cross-polinate with each other and your hot chilli might disappoint you by being milder than you would like.

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Sometimes the plants can grow a bit spindly, which I have experienced over the years.  The best way to stop this and to get a bumper crop is to ‘pinch out’ the tops of the plants once they reach about 12″ tall.  This will encourage side shoots and the plant will give you a much better yield of peppers.  I will do a short video on this in the next couple of weeks.

Chillies and Bell Peppers all start out green and as they mature they will turn into orange, red, yellow or even purple, all depending on the variety you are growing.  Remember that the more peppers you pick the more your plant will produce so it’s always good to pick a few green ones even if you really want them red.  Chilli peppers will become hotter as they colour up and the bell peppers will become sweeter.

This is a cayenne pepper which changes colour so much before it finally turns red.

This is a cayenne pepper which changes colour many times before it finally matures and turns red.

 

These bell peppers were just so sweet and crispy.

These bell peppers were just so sweet and crispy.

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This is a hot little chilli called Prairie Fire. The peppers flower, turn white, green, orange and then red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over Wintering Chilli Plants

Last year I decided to do a little experiment and tried to overwinter my chilli pepper plants.  Chilli plants are perennials and if overwintered correctly, should last for years.  So at the end of the growing season (which was around October here) when the weather really started to cool down, I brought my chilli peppers indoors.  I left them for another month or so as there were quite a few flowers/chillies on them and I didn’t want to waste any.  After a few days I watched the flowers fall off rather than mature into peppers which was a little disappointing but the chillies ripened from green to red which was a bonus.

These are some of chillies that were overwintered.

These are some of the chillies that were overwintered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I finished picking all the chillies off of my plants I then took the drastic step of giving them a good prune, so that there was only a few inches of the plant left.  Doing this will ensure that your plant does not waste energy trying to keep foliage and fruits but instead put all its energy into surviving the winter. Great job I thought as I closed the door of my spare room, watered, pruned and all tucked in for the winter.  They looked great for the first couple of weeks but then I checked in on them and they had been invaded with aphids, which must have come in from the tunnels with them……uh oh I thought.  OK  I have managed to keep them alive for the past few weeks and I wasn’t going to let these little pests destroy all my hard work, so neem oil to the rescue.  I mixed a teaspoon of neem oil with a little washing up liquid and some water and went to war on the aphids.  I sprayed every plant until they were dripping and then watered the compost with the neem oil mix as well.  The aphids would have harbored in there too.  This was a process which I had to repeat over the winter and despite all my efforts only 6 or so plants have survived. Oh well I did try and  if it wasn’t for the aphids I think my experiment would have been a lot more successful!  PS  Overwintering is not recommended for bell peppers.  With hindsight, I should have treated the plants and soil with neem oil before bringing them indoors.  This would have lessened the impact of the aphids.  I am sorry to have to admit that I won’t repeat the experiment as the effort and work load  wasn’t worth the gain.

 

Health Benefits of Chillies and Peppers

Peppers are incredibly good for you, especially the brightly coloured ones.  They are both low in calories and packed full of essential vitamins like  A, B6, C and  E. Red Bell Peppers contain phytochemicals and carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, antioxidants and ant-inflammatory properties which is just soooo good for your health. Red Peppers also contain around 300 percent of your daily vitamin C intake and compared with the unripened green pepper they have twice as much vitamin C and loads more vitamin A.

Capsaicin,( the ingredient that makes chillies hot) in peppers,  especially chilli peppers have so many health benefits. These include reducing ‘bad’  cholesterol, diabetes,can aid in pain relief ,can  inhibit cancer cell growth, increase blood flow and even help with your libido 🙂

 

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So now you know give them a grow!!!

Thanks for tuning in and Happy Gardening

Take Care

Eve

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned and I will show you how harvest your chilli/peppers, how save your seeds from your homegrown peppers and also how to preserve them 🙂

Just Another Day At The Plant!

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Hi Guys

Well today started out with taking some of my dahlias which I grew from seed and some of my overwintered geraniums to a couple of neighbours and planted them into their gardens and pots.

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Then it was back to the tunnels to sow some spicy salad leaves, lettuce and spinach as the warm weather had sent some of the spicy salad ‘sky high’ (bolt). I sowed some lollo rossa, romaine, nymans and a mixed lettuce called all sorts, along with some organic rocket, bright and spicy, oriental leaves and mustard.

Spicy Salad and Lettuce can very easily bolt (go to seed) if it gets too hot which can be a problem the cover of a poly tunnel :(

Spicy Salad and Lettuce can very easily bolt (go to seed) if it gets too hot which can be a problem under the cover of a poly tunnel 😦

Rocket can also bolt but the flowers make really nice addition to your salad bowl :)

Rocket can also bolt but the flowers make really nice addition to your salad bowl 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also gave the tomatoes a good pruning by pinching out, side shooting and getting rid of those suckers 🙂 from the indeterminate tomato plants and gave them and all the other veg a good watering and feed.

These are the Tamina tomato plants.  They have leaves that are more like a potato than a tomato.  They are a great plant and give a high yield of medium sized fruits.

These are the Tamina tomato plants. They have leaves that are more like a potato than a tomato. They are a great plant and give a high yield of medium sized fruits.

This is a Black Russian Tomato Plant which produces massive deep purple/black fruits

This is a Black Russian Tomato Plant which produces massive deep purple/black fruits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love my tomato plants but the side shooting/suckering is a long job when you have well over a 100 plants. I use the velcro garden tape which makes tying them up a much easier job.

Love my tomato plants but the side shooting/suckering is a long job when you have well over a 100 plants. I use the velcro garden tape which makes tying them up a much easier job.

 

 

 

I have been working on my video about the chili/pepper plants and hopefully will upload it tomorrow but I have had a few technical issues with my computer which hopefully is now sorted so stay tuned!

Happy Gardening

 

Eve

Strawberry Fields Forever!

photo 2Hi Guys

Busy day again today and so much to ‘show and tell’ but too tired so I will just show you a few photos of my yummy strawberries which I picked yesterday 🙂

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Over 1kg of strawberries picked today :)

Over 1kg of strawberries picked today 🙂

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I spent most of today potting on my chili and bell pepper plants which I will give you more information on tomorrow.  Also made a small video on how to do this so stayed tuned 🙂

Good Night Guys and Happy Gardening

Take Care

Eve

 

Poly Tunnels and Multi Tasking!

Well hello there,

Yesterday was another one of those days when, as a woman I had to multitask.  My son is home from university for the summer and along with him came loads of washing – 5 machine loads to be precise!   I am more than happy to do his washing for him as I do miss him when he is away.  This was his 1st year at uni and I think I was more worried than he was 😉  So I was in and out of the utility with the washing and as it looked like it was going to rain I hung the clothes out to dry….in my tunnel, another great reason to use one of these great multi functional tunnels 😉P1000990

 

Along with doing the washing I had to get my seaweed into all the different places that I had for it.  First was to tuck my tomato plants into their seaweed bed, but before that I needed to stake the tomatoes and also start to ‘pinch out’ the side shoots and this is quite a time consuming job when you have 150 tomato plants to do.  Once this job was done, I could lay the seaweed around them and hopefully keep any fungal viruses and those nasty pests like slugs well away from my crops 🙂

After mulching your tomatoes with seaweed, remember to leave a space for walking on clear, otherwise you will be slip sliding all over the place.

After mulching your tomatoes with seaweed, remember to leave a space for walking on clear, otherwise you will be slip sliding all over the place.

Remember to stake your tomatoes and attach carefully with some garden velcro or similar.

When you have your stake in place you will need to attach the tomato plants to them carefully with some garden velcro or similar.

This plant has a really long side shoot.  Remember to take a good look at the plant to work out which is the main stem before pinching out the side shoot!!

This plant has a really long side shoot. Remember to take a good look at the plant to work out which is the main stem (shown here in the picture) before pinching out the side shoot!!

The side shoot should break away quite easily by gently pulling it towards you.

The side shoot should break away quite easily by gently pulling it towards you.

 

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Then onto the bins to make up my seaweed fertilizer.  As you will see from the photos I use good old fashioned household bins with lids and get my very handy husband to put taps into the bottom.  Remember to raise the bins up before filling them otherwise you will find it very difficult to get your liquid seaweed out of the tap.

Good old fashioned garden bins make great compost/fertilizer bins. Also remember to raise them up so you can put a container under the bin to collect your liquid

Good old fashioned garden bins make great compost/fertilizer bins. Also remember to raise them up so you can put a container under the bin to collect your liquid

 

Fill your bin with about 2/3 of fresh water then fill up with your seaweed

Fill your bin with about 2/3 of fresh water then fill up with your seaweed

Taps are readily available in any good garden center or DIY.  You can however buy compost bins which have the taps already on but they are pretty pricey!!

Taps are readily available in any good garden center or DIY. You can however buy compost bins which have the taps already on but they are pretty pricey!!

 

Last but not least I put a couple of wheel barrow loads of seaweed into the compost heap. I will put a pile of straw on top of it today or it will end up a slimy mess 🙂

So lets check what we achieved yesterday: Tomatoes staked….check, Tomatoes ‘pinched out’ and tied to their stakes….check, seaweed mulch around tomatoes….check, pot on the peppers……NOT DONE but today is another day 🙂

Even Buddy was bored today and thought that I would never get finished ;)

Even Buddy was bored yesterday and thought that I would never get finished 😉

Thanks for tuning in and happy gardening.

Eve

Seaweed-one of natures free fertilizers

P1000974Hi Guys

Well today turned out to be slightly different from planned which happens quite a lot in my world.  I’m not complaining as life can be more exciting (sometimes) when you do things on a ‘whim’.  Today we woke up to sunshine, although a little cold as we have a northerly wind but decided it was a perfect morning to collect seaweed for the garden. It’s a great FREE  organic fertilizer, mulch and can also be used as pest control.

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Seaweed is so good for the garden soil and plants due to the amazing amount of trace elements (these are the nutrients that plants only need a little of), potassium, magnesium, growth hormones, nutrients, and anti fungal and disease elements.

If you are not lucky enough to live close to the sea and collect seaweed fresh, don’t panic as seaweed can be used in its natural form or as a powder or liquid fertilizer and is available in most good garden centers. It can be used as a foliage spray on both plants and seedlings.  It can help prevent disease (mold and fungus growth), act as a growth simulator, due to the micro nutrients and help set  fruits.  To make your own  seaweed fertilizer you will need to fill a bucket or barrel to 3/4 full with fresh water.  Add as much seaweed as you need to fill it up and leave to soak for at least 6 weeks,  even several months stirring every few days. It is best to keep it somewhere ‘out of the way’ as it will smell pretty bad for a while.  It is ready to use when it no longer ‘stinks’.  It should be diluted before you use it, at least a minimum of 3-4 parts of water to 1 part of  seaweed fertilizer.

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Seaweed also works as a great mulch and unlike other ground cover mulch at often make a great hiding place for slugs, snails, earwigs and other little pests, the seaweed is both salty and as it dries it crisps up and makes it very uncomfortable for these horrid little critters to crawl on.  It is also great as a weed suppressant and any weeds that do manage to pop up above the seaweed can be easily seen and destroyed.

Seaweed is also great for the compost heap as it helps to condition your compost with trace elements so that when you use it in your garden you are getting the benefit both from the mulch and the compost. I would advise you to mix it with such materials as straw, paper or dried leaves when composting, otherwise it will become very slimy and leave your compost pile smelling rancid.

Seaweed is also great for the garden if you haven’t got time for manure to age, as seaweed can be used straight away and dug into the soil before planting up your fruit and veg.

We collected a couple of trailers full of seaweed today, with the help of one of our dogs Tilly, she not only loves the beach, but loves water:)

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Tomorrow I will put some seaweed around my tomato plants, put some into a barrel for fertilizer and some onto the compost heap….and maybe get some of the other jobs done that I had initially planned for today 😉

Thanks for tuning in and happy gardening.

Take Care

Eve

 

 

 

 

Tomato Growing Problems And How To Control Them

P1020256Tomatoes are one of my favourite foods to grow (just in case you didn’t know!) and I really look forward to the taste of my home-grown tomatoes after waiting patiently for months on end and giving them all the care and attention that they need!

Unfortunately if you dont look after your tomato plants, you are going to get all sorts of pests and diseases which could destroy all your hard work. However, there will be times when, despite you giving your tomato plants all the care and attention that they need, the weather and other environmental stresses which are out of your control, can affect the health of your plants.

There are many types of problems that may affect your tomatoes, BUT…….we can, by taking a few precautionary measures avoid them and hopefully make your growing experience of this delicious fruit a great success.

Here are some of the most common tomato problems; I hope that this will help you to diagnose what the culprit is and treat it as early as possible to prevent it from spreading to other plants.

BOTRYTIS (GREY MOULD)

Botrytis or Grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) can be a serious problem when you get it in on your poly tunnel or greenhouse tomato plants. Grey mould thrives under cool, wet conditions (high humidity) and often establishes itself on dead or dying plants, including the leaves, flowers, stems and unfortunately the tomatoes.  It usually attacks unhealthy (stressed) plants but it can also infect perfectly healthy specimens too.  Tomatoes which are grown too close together (overcrowded)  will also be more susceptible – GUILTY 😦

The first symptom of Botrytis is a fuzzy grey mould which can often be missed (as I did this year 😦 ) and if not spotted early  can very quickly spread to other tomato plants as well as a variety of other fruit, veg and flowers, such as strawberries, beans, cucumbers, courgettes, lettuce, ,marigolds, aubergines, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries and many more –  too many to name.  This grey mould is made up of dry spores that are air-borne.  These spores are dispersed very easily by the wind, garden tools, particularly your pruning shears, scissors etc.  If one part of the plant is infected, ie: if a flower that is infected drops off onto a leaf, then the leaf will become infected. If a fruit that is infected touches another part of the plant, then that will become infected too –  In other words it is very very contagious and once it gets hold it is very hard to control.

Botrytis can survive/overwinter in the soil and plant debris so it is really important to NOT use the same area the following year, this is important for all garden vegetables and is called crop rotation.   It is also important to dispose of all infected debris and fruits carefully and  DO NOT put them into your compost heap.

HOW TO PREVENT THE ONSET OF BOTRYTIS (Before it takes hold!)

First things first.  The MOST important thing and number one on the list is to make sure that your greenhouse/glasshouse, poly tunnel is kept clean and thoroughly disinfect it every year, moreoften if possible.

As Botrytis is caused by cool, wet conditions and high humidity, you should avoid planting your tomatoes too close together (GUILTY 😦 ).  Remove lower leaves as soon as the plant is large enough.  Avoid watering in the evenings and try not to wet the leaves, especially on cool, wet days where there is very little wind to dry them.

HOW TO MANAGE AN OUTBREAK OF BOTRYTIS

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What was a healthy plum tomato has been infected by Botrytiis and will rot and drop off the plant.

 If you find a plant that is badly infected with botrytis, remove it and destroy it carefully.  If you find a leave, flower or fruit which is infected, then you need to remove it by cutting it away from the main plant with a scissors or pruning shears, making sure that you disinfect your tools in between each plant treatment. I use a mild bleach solution for this.  I also use a damp cloth to hold around the infected piece so as to help stop the spores from dispersing into the air and infecting surrounding plants.

This is a leaf of a healthy tomato plant with the infected Botrytis flower buds lying on top after falling from an infected part of the plant

This is a leaf of a healthy tomato plant with the infected Botrytis flower buds lying on top after falling from an infected part of the plant

This is the infected flower buds after lying on a healthy leaf for a day or two which is now also infected :(

This is the infected flower buds after lying on a healthy leaf for a day or two which is now also infected 😦

This is a tomato and stem that are both very badly infected with the Botrytis (Grey Mould) Unfortunately I didnt see the tomato until it had infected the stem as well as other parts of what was a healthy plant :(

This is a tomato and stem that are both very badly infected with the Botrytis (Grey Mould) Unfortunately I didnt see the tomato until it had infected the stem as well as other parts of what was a healthy plant 😦

ORGANIC SPRAY

I use an organic mix of baking soda, horticultural oil, ( such as neem oil) and water to try and prevent further infection.  Spray all plants  that look like they have or are likely to have been infected by being in close proximity to Botrytis.  I also use it on areas that I have pruned.  The baking soda is known to help prevent diseases.  It also kills existing fungal spores on plant leaves.  The oil is used to help the spray stick to the plants.

This is my 1st year of trying this organic mix so I will let you know how it goes!

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BLOSSOM END ROT

When you see an ugly dark patch on the bottom of your tomato it is usually a sign of Blossom end rot which is caused by a calcium deficiency in the developing fruits. Don’t panic, it really doesn’t mean that all your hard work is for nothing and that with a few minor adjustments, you can hopefully have a great crop of tomatoes.

So what is this Blossom End Rot.  Well it is caused by a lack of calcium in the developing fruits, this causes the cells to collapse in the area where the fruit has the most growth – the Blossom End (named because this is the end where the flower was, just in case you were wondering 🙂  ) and this starts to rot.  Tomatoes need large amounts of calcium for healthy cell growth and when this is not available it can put the plant, especially the fruits under stress as  fruits are the last to receive adequate calcium, hence this is why it is the affected part!

Blossom End Rot :(

Blossom End Rot 😦

CAUSE OF BLOSSOM END ROT

Blossom End Rot is usually caused by the plant being under water stress.  This occurs when the plants soil is allowed to dry out and is then watered.  Even if calcium is present in the soil it will not move through the plant properly unless adequate watering is applied.  Too much or too little water will put the tomato plant under stress and the leaves will receive the water and calcium before the fruit which is where the problem begins 😦    Always remember that over watering can be equally as bad as under watering.

Another cause of Blossom End Rot is over-fertilization.  This is due to using the wrong fertilizer where the nitrogen content is too high.  This will stimulate lots of green foliage for your plant, but will take away the important nutrients including calcium which is needed for developing fruits  This is another reason for always using a good organic tomato fertilizer which has the correct amount of nitrogen for growing healthy plants.

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SPLIT TOMATOES

Over watering after the soil has dried out can often cause split fruit

Over watering after the soil has dried out can often cause split fruit

This is something that I get on a regular basis, every year I have some lovely ripe tomatoes that split.  WHY you ask.  Well its usually because of fluctuations in the amount of water they get.  This is harder when you are growing outside as you cannot control the amount of water that nature throws at them, but it does happen under cover as well.  When a tomato gets a ‘glut’ of water in one go, it swells so fast that the outer skin (usually ripe) cracks.  The main reason is that the outer skin becomes more fragile as the fruit begins to ripen.

The best….and only way to solve this problem is water regularly and pick fruits that are ripe rather than leave them on the vine, as just one more day can cause the fruit to crack.

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TOMATO BLIGHT

Some of my tomatoes infected by blight a couple of years ago!

Some of my tomatoes infected by blight a couple of years ago!

Tomato blight is another nasty disease that affects tomatoes, along with many other plants and can be disastrous if it gets hold.  Once again, dont panic as there are things we can do to prevent it and also treat it if it does show its ugly head.

Blight is most common in tomatoes and potatoes and is usually caused by very wet weather, cool nights and warm days.  It is a fungus which spreads really fast over the whole plant including the fruits or tubers, thus causing them to decay.  This is a common problem in tomatoes grown outside as you cannot control the amount of water the plant is getting, it does however also affect tomatoes grown under cover, especially when there is long periods of damp, wet conditions enveloping the outside of the poly tunnel.

SYMPTOMS OF BLIGHT

Blight usually starts on the leaves of the plants but can very quickly effect the growing fruits which will quickly turn into a blackish brown hard rough surface.

HOW TO PREVENT BLIGHT FROM DESTROYING YOUR CROP

Leaf of a tomato which has blight

Leaf of a tomato which has blight

Similar to Botrytis, Blight can remain in the soil for a very long period of time.  For this reason I always rotate the crop and never plant my tomatoes in the same place more than once every couple of years.  Always remove any leaves that look suspicious, ie: any that are yellow, have dark brown spots or even a fungus (spores). Remove all fruits and leaves that are infected and also any fallen leaves that may be lying on the soil as these will only prolong and spread the disease further.

Water only at the base of the plant and avoid splashing water which will only spread the spores.  Water in the morning, never in the evening as the wet cool conditions are ideal for blight to grow.

Use Bordeaux mixture which is a copper based spray and is perfectly OK to use if your an organic gardener.  It is used to protect healthy plants but once blight is present it will not cure them.  It is only used as a preventative measure rather than a cure!!

Alternatively you could try a baking soda spray similar to the one I used for Botrytis.

I do hope that this information will help you to recognize the symptoms of some of the nasty problems that can occur.   I have over the years, had all of these problems, sometimes all of them together.  With some diligent hard work I have managed to control them and still get great yields.  This year its Botrytis and it really has taken hold 😦 I do blame myself for overcrowding the tomato tunnel.  I have probably provoked the situation by not being able to open one of the doors for a couple of months.  This has restricted the air flow on top of some really damp wet days and therefore the leaves on the tomato plants remained wet longer than they should have.

Please feel free to ask questions which I hope to answer for you and please watch the video which shows you the Botrytis in a little more detail.

Please don’t forget to subscribe to my you tube channel by clicking on the link below the video.

Happy Gardening

Eve

How to side shoot, pinch out, sucker, prune your tomato plants

The most important part of growing Indeterminate (Cordon) Tomato Plants is to control the amount of vines that will grow. Some tomato plants will produce more shoots than are needed and if not controlled will grow like a vine with lots and lots of lush green leaves but very few fruits (tomatoes). In order to make sure the tomato plant grows in a controlled way and you get lots of healthy tomatoes you need to side shoot, pinch out, prune your plant. This video shows you in detail what needs to be done in order to grow a strong healthy plant that has 1 large stem and hopefully lots of tomatoes.

I will be telling you about the problems that can occur with your plants over the next few days………and how most of them can be resolved  by following a few simple steps so please stay tunned.

Thanks for following

Eve

How To Grow Potatoes

Hi Guys

Growing your own potatoes is yet another rewarding easy vegetable to grow and there is nothing better than sitting down to your Sunday roast with your home-grown spuds!!

Potatoes grow over a long period of time so they are another crop that you need to be patient with…….but’ OH BOY’ they are so worth the wait!

Potatoes need a well-drained fertile site which has preferably had some well-rotted manure dug in. (It is not essential but does make a difference).

There are loads of different types of seed potatoes for sale in any good garden centre. The choice of which potato you grow is down to what you want to do with them when they are fully grown: ie mashing, roasting, boiling etc……..so read the labels on the seed potato pack and it will tell you what they are best for.  There are also different potatoes to grow at different times of the year.

First Earlies which are planted around March – April and will be ready around 15 weeks later.

Second Earlies which are planted around the middle of April and ready around 17 weeks later.

Maincrop which are planted from April onwards and will take around 20 weeks to mature.

I am going to be planting my main crop potatoes hopefully today although I normally would have them into the ground by the end of May but if you are growing under cover then it is not too much of a problem as its the frost that we need to watch out for!

Once you have your seed potatoes, we need to ‘chit’ them…..What is that I hear you ask 🙂 This process is done by sitting your seed potatoes in a well lite, frost-free place and allowing those little ‘eyes’ to shoot.  I use cardboard egg trays to sit mine on but any type of box will do.

Chitting potatoes

To ‘Chit’ or not to ‘Chit’…..this is the question. Now I often have thought about the farmers who are growing fields full of potatoes……cant see them ‘chitting’ all those spuds….so Ive tried it both ways.  The potatoes that I have planted without ‘chitting’ take a little longer to come up but other than that I don’t see a lot of difference……So guys its up to you.

The next thing we need to do is to prepare the ground for our potatoes.  If you have prepared it well in advance with well-rotted manure then great…..if you haven’t…….don’t panic, all is not lost as we can just add some fertilizer to the ground as we go.

The general opinion is that the shoots on your ‘chitted’ seed potatoes should be approx 2 inches long…..I don’t think I have ever left mine grow that big before planting…..again never really had any problems.  If the seed  potato you are growing is very large then you can cut it so as it can produce more plants. Each ‘eye’ (shoot)  will grow into a new potato plant so if you have 6 eyes on your potato then you will get 6 plants from that seed potato.  It is up to you if you decide to cut your potato or not but remember the more eyes on a potato or piece if you have cut it the more potatoes you will get but they will be smaller.  If you have only a couple of eyes on your potato then you are going to get larger potatoes.  I have heard of some gardeners rubbing off a couple of the eyes rather than cut the potato…..again its up to you……experiment…..thats the fun of gardening!  ( If you cut your seed potatoes then leave them a couple of days to ‘scab’ over before planting).

The ground should be as fertile as possible in order to get a good crop of potatoes.  If you haven’t added any manure to your ground then you can add some organic chicken manure pellets or any good quality fertilizer which you should be able to buy in any garden centre.  Read the instructions on the packet to work out how much you need to add to your soil.

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Sprinkle organic fertilizer over the ground and rake in before planting

Plant your potatoes about 14-16 inches apart and about 4 inches deep ensuring the eyes are looking upwards!!!

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I use my garden trowel as a guide as to how deep the seed potatoes need to be as its approximately 4 inches in length.

Cover the plants with good quality compost, either a grow bag or your own compost is even better!

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Give the potato bed a good watering and……be patient.  You should see your potato plants within a few weeks depending on time of year and whether you have ‘chitted’ or not!

Once your potato plants appear, wait till they are a few inches high…..then we need to ‘earth up’ in other words cover the potato plants (carefully) with more compost/soil.  Earthing up your potatoes in very important and plays a big part in  growing potatoes.  It protects the growing potatoes from the frost and also prevents the potatoes from going green which  makes the potato  poisonous and inedible.  Earth up your potatoes 2 or three times……..Do this each time the plants reach a few inches tall.

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Within a few weeks your potato plants should be nice and tall and green.  Make sure you water well and soon you will have some delicious spuds to have with your roast dinner, salad or even on their own with a little bit of butter!!

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The length of time from planting to harvest can vary depending on a couple of things….The type of potatoes you are growing, the time of year and even the weather. The general census is that the potatoes will be ready when they flower.  I have just harvested potatoes that I grew in my tunnel which I planted at the end of February and they weren’t in flower…..You can always have a little look by gently brushing away some of the soil with your hand.

Health benefits of potatoes

I think that people often think that potatoes are not good for you and are fattening………How wrong are they!!

Potatoes contain Vitamins C and B-complex, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus, all excellent vitamins and minerals for your skin.

Potatoes are part of the nightshade family of vegetables and have lots of carbohydrates, protein,calcium, niacin and Vitamin C. They are full of fiber and contain lots of Vitamin C which make them another great antioxidant vegetable to help repair cells in the body. Potatoes can relieve inflammation in the intestines and digestive track.

Potatoes help fight heart disease and help to keep blood pressure down.

These are just some of the health benefits of humble spud……….there are many many more so Grow and enjoy!

 

Eve