Monday, October 31, 2011

Spring planting, Potato dramas and bug juice

A planting frenzy happened quite many weeks ago when i  I decided that it was spring, and although we were probably going to get some more cold spells , some planting was in order. I direct sowed, carrots (All seasons), Beetroot (Early wonder), Parsnip (The Student), Swedes (German swede turnip & Gilfeather), Snopeas, Peas (tender tendrils), Lettuce, Tat tsoi, Paak Tsoi, Rocket, Coriander and probably a few other things. All of these vegies are a bit tolerant to frost and grow reasonably in cold weather.

In the hot house i sowed more Tomatoes (Mary Italian, Red pear, Black cherry, Wong Bak, Cabbages, Broccoli, Parsley, Basil, Echinacea, Fennel. I'm sure there are a few others i have forgotten.
Potatoes went in one bed about 10 weeks ago and have had their first hilling. I waited for others to sprout and eventually planted quite a few of them with minimal sprouts.  I'm not convinced that potatoes can be forced to sprout by putting them in a bit of sun. I am of the belief (based on what I read somewhere, and my observations) that they sprout when they are ready (according to their internal clock) - other opinions appreciated. Several more sowings have taken place including a good number of Dargo goldfields' purple potato.

Several weeks ago i noticed some wilting in the potatoes. "Oh no", i thought "Wilt!" However on closer observation i noticed that there was a small plague of Green vegetable bugs. I have always had some of these on the potatoes. Perhaps this time because the soil was so fertile they are really having a feast, or i suspect that they were over-wintering somewhere and have emerged in numbers to make your eyes water. Upon researching the subject i found that there were no effective organic sprays mentioned and only biological and cultural techniques recommended the manage their numbers.  Myself and the WOOFER Christine, got together with some shallow trays and proceeded to give the plants a light beating which resulted in getting hundreds of the little blighters, which were then fed to the chickens.

Later on, young lad and i decided to make a bug spray (yes made of crushed up bugs). We collected several hundred bugs in a shallow bucket of water. We blended these up and strained them through an old T shirt and made about a litre of bug juice. No other additives were included.

 When we sprayed it on there was no major reaction from the bugs (i was expecting them to writhe in disgust and fall off the plants). However a couple of days later i went to check a few plants and i could not find any bugs! Finding bugs was previously a very easy task. I checked again and i kept checking. There has been a total evacuation of Green vegetable bugs due to the bug juice. So my potato crop has gone from heavily infested to totally free of green vegetable bugs in the space of a few days. Miraculous but true.

To my surprise some of my spring plantings (planted around September 1) bolted to seed because it was too cold at the time of sowing. These were Wong Bak, Paak tsoi, Mizuma, Celery and most surprising of all Rocket. I'm told silver beet will also do this o i have learned my lesson there.
I have already put my tomatoes in and now we are having a bit of a cold spell. Looking at them yesterday they appeared to look quite healthy, and much better than the plants still in pots in the hot house.
Broad beans, planted in May
The strawberries are doing very well, as are the cabbages. The Strawberries were planted last spring and summer and are currently providing an amazing bounty.
Strawberries planted last summer

Savoy cabbages booming away

Savoy cabbages last month.