Potato plant fruit looks just like green tomatoes!

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This is something that has amazed me since the first time I saw it!  Potato plants produce flowers and fruit.  The fruit looks just like small green tomatoes!  They are not edible though.

The reason for this is that potatoes are related to tomato plants!  They are both from the “Solanaceae” family which also includes aubergines and chilli pepper plants.

Bees

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There is so much in the news at the moment about the plight of bees that you are probably well aware of the importance of encouraging bees into your garden and allotment.  On our site we are lucky to have a plot holder with a hive.  It has only recently be installed and to be honest you would not really even know it was there.  There are lots of bees on our plot now but, to be honest, there always has been.  However, I think generally there were more bumblebees than honey bees and now I definitely see the honey bees out and about foraging for pollen.  Just in case you did not know, bees are brilliant pollinators and I must say that my crops are all doing very well this year.  I love seeing bees on my plot and enjoy watching them move around the flowers.

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There are a wide variety of bees, far more than you are probably aware of.  There are honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees in this country and there are many varieties of each.

If you would like to find out more about the current issues surrounding bees try clicking on these links:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/bees

http://vanishingbees.co.uk

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/collections/p007rdq3 – this is a video clip

If you would like to keep bees here are some websites to help start your research:

British bee keeping association (BBKA)

National bee unit

If you would like to find out a little more about the different types of bees try these:

Bumblebee Conservation Trust – for identifying bumblebees

Bee improvement program for Cornwall – for identifying honey bees

British bee keepers association: Bee and wasp information leaflet

The Pollinator Garden

If you would like to make your garden or allotment a little more bee friendly try these links:

http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/gardening_for_bumblebees.htm

http://www.bbka.org.uk/files/library/bbka_shrubs_for_bees_3-way_1306864579.pdf

http://www.bbka.org.uk/files/library/bbka_trees_for_bees_3-way_1306864371.pdf

http://www.complete-gardens.co.uk/online/online-gardening-plant-solutions-category.php?cat=24

Problems with my veg…

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I spoke in my earlier posts about loosing some of my onions to mould.  Here is a photo of the white mould on the bottom of an onion after I pulled it out.  Additionally, this year, on all the mouldy onions I also saw these little creatures!  I think they are baby centipedes, or possibly millipedes.  If you can not see them, try clicking on the photograph below to enlarge it.

If they are centipedes then they should be encouraged, they are carnivorous and eat a wide variety of pests, including slugs.  I am just not sure what so many of them are doing on the bottom of this onion!  Down Garden Services provides a list and pictures of common garden creatures which is worth looking at.  The creatures are grouped into 3 categories:  friends, enemies and those that have some “bad habits”.

It is also possible that they are millipedes, this would make more sense as they feed on decaying vegetation which is in line with being on the bottom of a rotting onion.  This makes them very useful for recycling organic matter on the allotment.  However, they also have some bad habits.  They can damage seedlings, as well as beans, peas and carrots.  They like to eat soft tissue plants such as cucumber plants and strawberries.  They also enlarge wounds created by slugs in harder veg, such as potatoes or bulbs, however, they are unable to cause damage to these plants on their own.

After considering all these points I think they must be millipedes.  I have found them living in slug holed potatoes in the past.  As they are just eating rotting veg I do not see them as a pest.  They have not caused any damage to my seedlings or other plants so I am not too worried about them at the moment.

Above is a picture of my first butternut squash which has gone mouldy/rotten.  I noticed it after being away for the weekend.

After some more online research it looks like it is due to “Blossom end rot”.  There appears to be number of reasons for this to happen, from a lack of calcium in the soil, through to a need for more regular watering.  Apparently if you catch it early enough you can nip it in the bud.  Try these online resources below to find out more information and possible solutions:

Weekend Gardener: Stop Squash Blossom Rot

iVillage Garden Web: Blossom End Rot

Gardening Know How: Squash Bottom End Rot

Bolted Lettuce

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If you get a dry hot sunny period make sure you keep watering your lettice as much as possible or else you run the risk of it “bolting“.  This means it shoots up tall and begins to create flower buds.

Bolted lettuce tastes AWFUL!  It is so bitter that it really is best avoided if at all possible.  When my lettuces bolt I pull them out and compost them.