Saturday, 6 August 2016

Rust never sleeps, Fuchsias 2016

Quoting the title of Neil Young's album, 'Rust Never Sleeps' is an appropriate name for my 2016 Fuchsia blog. 

Over the course of the summer, many of my Fuchsia plants have developed rust and rust damage. While rust is not a new phenomenon to Fuchsia, it is not something I've been troubled with over recent years. The result of a rust attack is to leave the plants looking poorly, with discoloured foliage and a lack of good shapely flowers. 

Typically rust appears to us gardeners during the summer as 'urediniospores', a rust fungi in the form of pustules, typically light coloured en masse on the underside of leaves. This particular rust in question (as there are many types) is called 'Pucciniastrum epilobii'. This same rust is also frequently seen on willowherb (Epilopium). The spores are encouraged by high humidity, and are spread by rain splashes and air currents. 

As mentioned, willowherb is also a host of this same type of rust, which is known as a method for the rust to overwintering, leaving it ready to spring back into action on Fuchsia plants in spring. Fuchsia rust can also overwinter on the foliage of non dormant plants, and it can also overwinter as mycelium overwinter in rootstock. 

While there are various fungicide sprays that can be used to assist the control of rust, Fuchsia foliage is prone to damage and most articles I have read advise the use of chemicals. Instead, the advice is to remove and destroy affected leaves, as quickly as possible before the fungus spreads, and discourage the development of lush growth. 

For my part, looking at 2017, I am considering taking some rust free cuttings to create new plants, and discard some of my older plants. For now though, I'll continue to pick off and destroying affected leaves, and try to ensure  good growing conditions for the future for the rest of this year. 

Helpful books for this blogpost, and for further reading include:
Encyclopaedia of Gardening, from the RHS
The Organic Garden Book, by Geoff Hamilton
Principles of Horticulture by C.R. Adams, K.M. Bamford and M.P. Early
and particularly
Pests, Diseases & Disorders by Stefan Buczacki and Keith Harris.

Also, check out , which is a helpful website on all things Fuchsia.

Happy gardening

Friday, 22 July 2016

Potager update July 2016

Well, we've just past mid summer in the garden, so I thought it's timely to do an update on the potager garden. Remember I was planting it up, read about that here. As you can see, it has come together very nicely and I have to say, in what is a very busy mostly non gardening year, I'm enjoying this garden space. Recently I revisited the vegetable garden in the Botanic Gardens, which impressed me so much over the past couple of years (read one of my blog posts here on it), and wasn't disappointed. You can see where I adopted some of their habits in developing my little production area....

At this point in the year I'm enjoying fruits of my early 2016 labour with produce like the these mini cucumbers, called 'Mini Munchie'. Other salad crops include tomatoes, which are just starting to ripen, and beetroots, which are looking like a good size now. I've been enjoying strawberries for the past month, mostly with my morning cereal and as they come to an end the raspberries have appeared along with some blueberries. I note the gooseberries, black currants and loganberries are ready for picking too. Where there is gluts of fruits I either make jam or freeze the produce for later use. 

Every day this area is a hive of activity, and this year I think I've even spotted some worker bees ...

This year, rather than growing gourds, we're all about the pumpkins here. First time for growing them and it is a real novelty to see the size some of them are growing to, particularly as the young plants required so much care and attention in the cold months of spring, and remember all those nightly slug patrols ... Lol

Oh, and their flowers are HUGE too !

As I've mentioned before, we all need a few sunflowers in the garden. While these guys won't win any prizes for height, the flowers are very impressive, and their seeds will be a nicely appreciated snack over the winter months. 

If you look up the word 'potager' you'll see it's a term that's used to describe a vegetable garden that has flower colour added to it. In this potager garden, at this time of year there is a riot of colour coming from the day lilies, Hemerocallis. Each of the large blooms only lasts a day (I've a blog here about flowers at each stage of the day), however, there are sooo many buds the plants flower for days and days on end. Plenty of colour too from the blue flowers of borage, the orange and yellow English marigolds, and touches of purple to pink flowers of red clover. I sowed all of these in spring, with the intention of attracting more insects into the garden, and boy o boy has this worked ! Every day this area is a hive of activity, and this year I think I've even spotted some worker bees doing their thing, after an absence in the garden for the last couple of years. 

What else is growing here? Well, two (sort of) trained apples have a nice amount of fruits on them. The onions are motoring along very nicely (read about planting them here). There are a dozen or so sweetcorn plants looking very well, with some cobs forming. The dill plants, which were so revered here in early summer are going to seed. Chive plants require some dead heading at this point. The lovely pea 'Shiraz' continues  to produce. While I didn't have seed for  a later sowing this year, I'm saving enough seed for a couple of sowings next year.
Finally, the grapes. In the great winter clean up, I cut the main grape plant back quite harshly over winter to tidy it up. At this point it's not looking like there'll be many fruits, so we'll have to be content with pictures from last year. 

Happy gardening.