Friday, 24 September 2010

Rain is not always a good thing

Earlier this week I was bemoaning the fact that I had had to water the garden with the hosepipe because we had had a spell of dry weather. Well now it's the opposite. Over the last 24 hours a lot of rain has fallen, and while some of my plants will no doubt welcome this (the perpetually-thirsty climbing beans, for instance), others will not.  Take a look at this truss of Black Cherry tomatoes...

Tomatoes splitting in the wet conditions
You can see that some of the riper fruits are splitting. This often happens when you get a lot of rain after a dry spell. Apparently the soft inside of the fruit, rapidly absorbing the moisture through the stem, swells quicker than the outside skin can grow, and so the whole thing comes apart. In the case of fruits that are nearly ripe, this is not a major issue because you can harvest them and ripen them indoors in about a day or so. They do need to be used promptly though, because they will soon begin to go mushy. But if you leave them on the plant they are vulnerable to air-borne deseases like mildew, and they will rapidly deteriorate beyond useability. If you're planning to make anything with green tomatoes (chutney maybe) these will be good candidates.

As long as the temperature remains fairly high, the cucumbers will like the rain. They are growing so rapidly that I reckon if I had a webcam trained on them we could see them grow! I think Nature adapts well to conditions. The cucumbers seem to know that in the Summer they can take their time, but this late in the year they need to get a real move on. Look at these two pictures, taken only 4 days apart...(Compare the size of the fruit in relation to the leaf just to its right)

18 September
22 September

 I would say that the fruit has pretty much doubled in size.

I had been planning to cut down the vines from the big Ferline tomatoes this weekend, since I have harvested all the fruits (many of which have either been converted into sauce for Winter use, or are still ripening on the Dining Room table), but I'm not doing this if it continues to rain. There is really no rush, since it's no longer a question of clearing one crop to make space for a following one.

The advent of more typical September weather has reminded me that I need to give my Sprouting Broccoli plants a bit more support. I tied them in against some stout hardwood stakes when I first planted them, but they have already grown a huge amount and they need some more ties further up the stakes, otherwise the gales that we are bound to get soon may knock them over. With only 6 plants to do, this is only a 10-minute job, but I'll probably avoid doing it in the rain if I can!

Sprouting Broccoli -- getting quite big now

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