The horrible little allium leaf miner flies are still active through November, so it is a good idea to protect crops like leeks and autumn planted garlic and onions with fine mesh, as recommended by the RHS.
Winter pruning of apples and pears is best done while the trees are dormant, usually between November and early March in the UK. Here are three useful articles from the RHS that explain what to do for different types of pruning:
Simple way to keep root crops fresh and safe through the winter.
How can you keep root crops like carrots and beetroot fresh and crisp until the middle of winter? A friend from Ash Road Allotments told me how: a mini root cellar. It is just a large flower pot sunk into the ground in a sheltered place, maybe a greenhouse. You layer dry sieved leaf mould or spent potting compost with roots. This protects them from frost or drying out.
Dig them out when you need them and just clean them off a bit. They are ready to use.
I find myself giving my beans a gentle squeeze to judge if they are ready to pick. This can be especially useful when there are lots of leaves in the way so that you can’t see the beans clearly.
Broad Beans: I especially like them when the beans are still tender and not too big. You can feel them through the skin of the pod. As the beans mature and start to get tough the pods develop a smooth, hard surface.
Green Beans: French beans and runner beans for eating green are best before the beans inside start to swell and the pods become stringy.
Dried Beans: Beans for drying, Borlotties for example, get a papery feel to the pods when the beans inside are nice and dry.
Allium leaf miners are the larva(maggots) of a little fly that lays its eggs on the leaves of our alliums (onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, etc). The larvae hatch out and tunnel down, eating and growing as they go, then pupate in the bulb area. Their damage causes the plants to become distorted, and opens them up to fungal disease. There are some good pictures to help identify them on the Allotments & Gardens web site.
The RHS have some useful advice about how to cope, as does Garden Organic (members only, unfortunately). There is no cure – only prevention, which means destroying infected plants to kill the larvae and pupae, and keeping the flies from laying their eggs on our crops by covering them with nets. The flies are quite small, and the RHS advise using very fine mesh (0.8mm) netting, as the standard “fine” mesh (1.3mm) is not reliable.
The adult flies are active in spring (March to June) and again in the autumn (September to November), which is when you need to cover your crops. These dates are a bit uncertain, as the pest is new here and we are still learning about it.
I struggle to find things that work on my plot, but French beans Borlotti beans are my favourite…
I thought I would stick my oar in and recommend growing borlotti beans. I struggle to find things that work on my plot and have more failures than successes, but French beans and recently, borlotti beans are my favourite and make me happy!
Growing borlotti beans turn into lovely purple pods that start to look dried out at the end of summer and that’s when I pick them. Simmer the beans in water with a bay leaf, rosemary and garlic for about 30 mins, then add salt and let stand for 10 mins. Drain, add some olive oil and lemon juice and eat. They are creamy and tasty and you can eat them in salads, as a side dish or add them to a stew, whatever you fancy. So nice and so easy.
I noticed about that squirrels (probably) were starting to eat my ripening sweetcorn …
I noticed that squirrels (probably – or rats?) were starting to eat my ripening sweetcorn (I had actually witnessed squirrels doing this last year). So, this time, after they had attacked the first few, I picked all the almost ready cobs – and then discovered that they were absolutely delicious and probably better than if I had left them for a bit longer. So, if the silks protruding from the cobs have turned brown they are probably ready.
Then, I seasoned the remaining cobs on the plants with a sprinkle of BLACK PEPPER and CHILLI POWDER. This, especially the black pepper, seemed to last despite the rain. A week or so later, no further attacks have been made and I was able to pick another couple of gorgeous ones today. And I then re-seasoned them all.
Worth a try then (unless the little so-and-sos develop a taste for curries)?