"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Towards the end of the season

I am embarrassed to confess that I made an error in the calculation of the birth date for Miranda's cria.  When I looked at Miranda's records which were handed over by the breeder, I took the last date which was reflected and calculated from there.  But, the last date is the date she gave birth to her previous cria - not her mating date.  So, I have to add 10 - 12 days to that to get her cria's due date.  Which means that her cria isn't due until 5 - 8th March 2014...!

Can you see my embarassed red face...?

So, to get to more mundane matters... LOL

We have had a really strange growing season here.  It's not that we haven't had the temperatures either.  I reckon our average daily temps have been in the high 20's to low-mid 30's for the past two months, with the occasional 37 - 39oC.

My tomatoes are only just beginning to ripen - in Feb / March!!!?!  The seeds were planted in September, and took ages to mature.  The ripening of the fruit is complementing that initial delay.

But, some of my tomatoes plants have an illness.  And I need assistance in establishing what it is.  So here is a pic :
Why have some of my tomatoes developed
a black core?
Can anyone tell me what the problem is?  Is it contagious, and should I whip out the plants chop-chop?  This is how I found them on the plant.  Beautiful from the top, but when you turn them over...!  Even the green ones are the same...  Given this or the tomatoes being eaten by mice, I think I might prefer the latter...

I tried growing cucurbits in tyres, strawbales and the ground.

The most successful was the ground - a lovely deep hole filled with alpaca dung, soil and straw.

By the way, alpaca dung is proving invaluable - if you have an alpaca farm near you, please, try and get some of their dung.  Vegetables absolutely love it!
A pumpkin in the making
I have given away a couple of pumpkins, and have at least 8 left - more than enough to get us through the coming winter.

Secondly, the tyres also proved a winner and produced plenty of butternut.   So much so that I have been able to share the bounty with neighbours and family and still have 10 left over for winter :)  Yummy - stuffed oven-baked butternut, creamed butternut, butternut fritters, butternut soup - I'm salivating at the thought of cooking them in my Rosie :)

The butternut plants did develop a bit of leaf mould, but I removed the infected leaves (and continue doing so as soon as I notice them), and the plant is still producing, so it obviously doesn't mind being "pruned".

But, the strawbales didn't work for me.

Firstly, the squash plants developed leaf mould.
Leaf mould on my squash plants - I Know I was
a very sloppy gardener to allow the plants to get
to this stage - but this was after I had
treated the plants with Sk Eco spray...!
Hectic leaf mould which I didn't notice early enough - "it's not easy to see in the glare of the sun, she protests..."

I tried using SK Eco Oil spray - a non-toxic to the environment and to the user organic oil spray.  Nada difference.
SK Eco spray
So then, after searching Google, I tried a 60% milk and 40% water mix.  Mike was more than happy to toddle round and apply the mixture.
Mike loved spraying the plants - and what a
great help he was :)
You can see some of the squash I harvested
on the left of the photo - the plant was removed
and burnt the same day.
But, that didn't work either.  So I ripped out the squash plants - I didn't want the leaf mould spreading to my pumpkins and butternuts.  Thinking about it, the squash plants have always developed leaf mould - so, note to self, don't plant squash in future...!

But, then, the strawbales containing a pumpkin plant each developed an illness - or predator.  I came outside one morning to water them, and discovered great wacking holes in the bales. Neither RMan nor I could figure out what or who had caused that.
What on earth is causing this collapse of the
strawbales?  Hares, small deer, Scallywag...?
Until yesterday that is.  I caught the culprits in action...
Can you see the culprits?  One has it's tail up
in the air, and the other is busy muching on
The ducks which adopted us back in September last year - they l-o-v-e digging in the bales... Grrrrrrrrrr!

But, I have to confess, watering the bales was always a problem - the water just seemed to slide off and / or leak out.  The plants always looked like they were thirsty - even if I had watered them an hour before.

So, alpaca dung filled tyres and the ground it will be for the pumpkins and butternut I plant in future.


wendywoo said...

I think the tomatoes have blossom end rot. Look that up and see what you think...

Dani said...

wendywoo - Welcome, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Yes, I think you're right! Now I must go and add some powdered milk to the soil area and remove the affected fruit. Many thanks :)

Quinn said...

Dani, I hope you can rescue some of your tomato crop! You are reminding me that I need to look back at ALL my notes from last year's gardening adventures, to try to head off any problems before they get too much of a foothold. I just ordered seeds yesterday, and I've already got several ideas for where and how to try certain vegetable plants this time around. So much work goes into it...got to try to get as much food as (organically) possible out of the endeavor!

African Bliss said...

Dani bottom rot it is and spray with 10% milk solution and dont over water....well! good luck.

African Bliss said...

O ! I think it is usually a lack of calcium or magnesium, not to sure check it out.

Dani said...

Quinn - That's one of the reasons I love blogging - it gives me an instant record of what I grew, what problems they had, and what treatment was successful. ;)

Dani said...

African Bliss - I googled bottom rot and it said it was due to a lack of calcium and too much nitrogen. Strange that, because my crop rotation from John Seymour says plant tomatoes after beans i.e. when the ground has been boosted with nitrogen...

Dani said...

African Bliss - It is due to a calcium deficiency and emergency treatment is through dosing with powdered milk. I have none, only expired UHT which I keep for when we run out (nothing worse that no milk for that first cup of rooibos in the morning LOL) Sobthe tomato plants got 4lts of curdled milk - that should give them some calcium until I can buy dome milk powder. I'll spray them with 10% milk tomorrow.

Thanks :)

Mum said...

I was going to say blossom end rot but someone beat me to it!
Here's a link

Love from Mum

Dani said...

Thanks Mum - I'll check out the link to the RHS tomorrow when I'm online again :)

kymber said...

Dani - everyone who mentioned blossom end-rot is correct. get all of the diseased tomatoes off, add calcium and then once a week add a cup of epsom salt to a gallon of water and feed the tomatoe plants with it. one other tip is apparently to plant borage amongst your tomatoes and that helps with the rot. good luck!

your friend,

Dani said...

kymber - Perfect - I have a number of self-seeded borage seedlings I'll move / transplant tomorrow.

Thanks :)

dreamer said...

Adding crushed egg shells to the soil will also help with the calcium deficiency :)

Glad you recalculated your dates for the cria - you would have had a lot of sleepless nights ahead otherwise :)

Kris said...

Yep, blossom end rot. Lack of calcium. Watering the roots with a calcium-rich tea. Egg shells do not break down quickly enough for the roots to take advantage of them this year. I put my eggshells in my compost so my planting mix (the next year) will already have accessible calcium for them.

Leigh said...

Dani, don't be embarrasses about Miranda's due date. I've done it with my goats too!

In the States we can get a foliar calcium spray that works quite quickly. Soil calcium must be built up too, as others have stated, but the spray saves the rest of the harvest! You might also consider adding dolomite to your soil for a long term calcium increase. It's got the correct balance of calcium and magnesium, which your soil needs to make the calcium available to your plants.

Interesting about the milk spray, I've been reading on some homesteading forums about folks using it. I'm going to have to do some research.

Dani said...

dreamer - The breeder gave us a list of Miranda's previous covers and of her ultrasounds which confirmed the pregnancy - all except her current one...

I was too hasty in consulting the list and doing calculations. Alpaca's are enceinte for 11.5 months - more than an elephant!

Dani said...

Kris - I've been saving my egg shells to deter the mice... LOL

Dani said...

Leigh - I'll see what is available at our Co-Op. Haven't heard about dolomite - will check it out...

Marlene aka Ouma Miaau said...

Luckily I have never had bottom end rot, but always do have the problem with pumpkin leaves going silver/mouldy, whatever one might call the fungi! The last lot I sprayed with epsom salts and also added that to the watering. That helped a bit, but should have done that sooner. Tyres are useful for planting veggies in, except that my strawberries nearly all died in them. Might have been too hot in the tyres so they will go back into pallet beds. Anyway, I'm always open to new ideas!

Dani said...

Marlene - Yeah, I would imagine that the black tyres got too hot for the strawberries. Unless you try limewashing them - to reflect the heat?

Harry Flashman said...

It seems like no one is having normal weather this year. I read a lot of blogs from all over the planet and many people have mentioned aberrant weather. I know we have certainly had a most unusual year here.

Dani said...

Harry - I, too, have read horror weather stories from Australia to the UK, and the US to South Africa. If this weather is linked to Global Warming the God help us all!

I still cling to the hope and belief that we are not to late to make a difference providing we collectively make an unselfish effort for the good of our planet - our Home.

africanaussie said...

I have also heard that inconsistent watering can cause blossom end rot.

Dani said...

African Aussie - Hmmmm,, makes me think that. T'is the first time I've grown tomatoes in the open and not inside a shadecloth veggie patch. Mebbe it was / is just too hot...?