Archives for July 2010

Advice on carrots, raised beds and tomato feed

Gareth Austin, gardening expert with BBC Radio Foyle, answers your questions about later sowings of carrots, what to grow in a shady raised bed and using tomato feed. If you have advice to share about growing the Dig In veg, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry.

Chris Harries from Bideford asks: I planted carrot seeds in a tub on 24 April 2010 and eventually foliage appeared. They don't seem to be developing beneath the soil. Same thing happened last year both in tub and direct in garden. Soil is clay so I expected more success in a pot. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Hi Chris, if I was you I'd try later sowings of carrots, as the most common pest which you'll have problems with 'The Carrot Root Fly' is more active in early summer. This little pest sucks the sap of the carrots causing them to grow stunted and indeed in many cases, die off completely! Later sowings can be more successful, as the root fly is 'off duty' by then. The root fly is attracted by the smell of the carrots so try companion planting with French marigolds, or regularly apply some spent coffee powder on the soil at the base of the foliage.

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Chris Collins on how to use liquid feeds

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Chris Collins Chris Collins | 08:33 UK time, Wednesday, 28 July 2010

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Hi all, I hope your veg are coming on well. If you want to give them a helping hand, you can use liquid feeds. Watch my video below on how to make your own and apply it to your plants.

Dig In grower Valerie from Devizes asks whether she can use nettles and comfrey as liquid feeds and wants to know if they'll work and whether they should be diluted?"

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Gareth Austin on growing the Dig In French beans

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Gareth Austin Gareth Austin | 09:16 UK time, Monday, 26 July 2010

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Gareth Austin, gardening expert with BBC Radio Foyle, answers your questions about the Dig In French beans. If you have had any problems growing them or have any advice to share, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry.

Vicky Page from Warwickshire asks: I planted out my seedlings late May, but they're still not flowering and some of them are barely halfway up their poles. I water them a little daily, I dug compost and fertiliser into our heavy clay soil when I planted them and have fed them twice. Is there anything else I should be doing?

Answer: Hi Vicky, good to hear you're trying the Dig In seeds with us! I wouldn't be disheartened by your progress. When planting work in some general fertiliser, such as bone meal, and some garden compost. I regularly sow French beans to ensure a good regular crop and many gardeners sow more crops in July for later harvests. French beans don't like to be too well watered and can be easily overwatered so ensure the soil is kept moist, try mulching with some wet newspaper to conserve moisture around the root, you should only have to water on a weekly basis. Perhaps you're being too good!

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What's the difference between a courgette and a marrow?

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Gareth Austin Gareth Austin | 08:32 UK time, Friday, 23 July 2010

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Gareth Austin, gardening expert with BBC Radio Foyle, answers a common question sent in to us at Dig In, about whether there's a difference between courgettes and marrows. Plus, he looks at why some courgettes only get male flowers. If you have advice to share about growing the Dig In veg, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry.

Daniel Swallow from Bedfordshire asks: The local garden centre sells courgettes and marrows plants. I thought marrows were courgettes that had grown too big. Are they actually different?

Answer: Daniel, fair plays to you, you're a vigilant fellow! Courgettes are commonly described as marrows harvested young. However, there are some slight horticultural differences between courgettes and marrows. Courgettes tend to be bushy and thin-skinned, whereas marrows tend to trailing and have a thicker skin. A good type of marrow to look out for is the Spaghetti Marrow, these are marrow-like in shape and when cooked the flesh resembles spaghetti, also these tasty fellows will store for a few months.

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Chris Collins on how to harvest courgettes

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Chris Collins Chris Collins | 12:34 UK time, Tuesday, 20 July 2010

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Hi all, lots of you have been writing in to say your courgettes are starting to fruit. Hurray! Keep your plants productive by harvesting a few times a week. The more you pick them, the more they'll flower and fruit. Watch my video below to see how to harvest them.

Dig In grower Julia Pearce from Somerset asks: "Will my courgettes will keep fruiting all summer?"

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What parts of a courgette plant can you eat?

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Gareth Austin Gareth Austin | 10:57 UK time, Tuesday, 20 July 2010

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Gareth Austin, gardening expert with BBC Radio Foyle, explains which parts of a courgette you can eat, how to pollinate a courgette and what to do if your salad crops start flowering. If you have advice to share about growing the Dig In courgettes and salad leaves, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry.

Paul asks: Can you eat any other part of the courgette plant apart from flowers and fruit?

Answer: Hi Paul, I've enjoyed eating young leaves and shoot tips from courgettes. However, these are a poor substitute for young courgettes picked when about four inches long. Also, remember to only harvest the male flowers once the females have set.

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Karen Kenny on wrinkly courgettes and short beans

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Karen Kenny Karen Kenny | 10:12 UK time, Friday, 16 July 2010

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Karen Kenny, an allotment expert with the NSALG, explains how watering your veg correctly can prevent wrinkly courgettes and beans that aren't growing to their full potential. If you have advice to share about growing the Dig In courgettes and beans, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry.

Sophie asks: My courgette plants have started producing courgettes but they seem to grow to a small size and then stop growing and then wrinkle up (with the exception of one which grew very bulbous and started to resemble a small marrow!). Why aren't they growing any bigger?

Answer: Watering could well be the problem, Sophie. It's important that you keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. The best way is to water thoroughly and then mulch to conserve the moisture and keep the soil at an even temperature. This is more likely to produce a constant supply of courgettes throughout the summer with regular picking. An organic mulch is best but shredded newspaper will do.

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Karen Kenny on watering and controlling greenfly

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Karen Kenny Karen Kenny | 15:02 UK time, Thursday, 15 July 2010

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Karen Kenny, an allotment expert with the NSALG, answers your questions about watering and how to get rid of greenfly organically. If you have any tips to share about watering techniques or greenfly, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry.

Sylvia Chubbs asks: What is best time to water? In the evening (which attracts the slugs and snails) or in the morning (when the leaves can get scorched)?

Answer: Early morning is by far the best because in the evening the ground is still hot as are the plants and the shock of cold water is not great. (Remember walking into a cold sea on a hot day!) Also the damp soil will give the slugs and snails an easy passage to their supper. It is best to really soak the soil and then to mulch thickly with anything organic, compost, straw, leaves, shredded paper. Then you will not need to water again for a long while as the plants will be encouraged to search for water down in the soil. This will give you more time to enjoy the garden.

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Expert tips from Hampton Court

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Zoe Behagg - web producer Zoe Behagg - web producer | 11:51 UK time, Friday, 9 July 2010

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The Dig In Team popped down to the Hampton Court Flower Show this week, to see some of the inspiring veg displays. We had a chat with Jon Wheatley who designed the fantastic Home Grown showpiece and put some of your questions to him.

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Karen Kenny on tall beans and making a simple raised bed

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Karen Kenny Karen Kenny | 08:20 UK time, Friday, 9 July 2010

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Karen Kenny, an allotment expert with the NSALG, answers your questions about courgettes and French beans. If you have a similar story to share, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry. You need to register first, which only takes two minutes.

Lydia asks: My beans have already grown higher than the wall I planted them against, with netting (1m 58cm - whoops!) Should I nip off the tops? Or try to find giant canes?

Answer: Hey Lydia, make sure there is no giant living at the top and either snip them off and have mature beans faster or let them bend and start to return down, the netting. It's no good needing a stepladder to harvest the beans. Think of the health and safety aspect!

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Chris Collins shows how to set up a wormery

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Chris Collins Chris Collins | 14:56 UK time, Tuesday, 6 July 2010

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Hi all, worms are essential for any garden. Paddy is asking how worms can help in his garden. Well, the easiest way is to get a wormery. There are lots of different sorts available and anyone buying one should follow the instructions that come with it. Or you can watch my video below to see how to set one up. If you have any other seasonal questions, send them in using the Q&A form.

Dig In grower Paddy asks: "How do you set up a wormery?"

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Karen Kenny on courgettes and French beans

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Karen Kenny Karen Kenny | 11:42 UK time, Monday, 5 July 2010

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Karen Kenny, an allotment expert with the NSALG, answers your questions about courgettes and French beans. If you have a similar story to share, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry. You need to register first, which only takes two minutes.

Lara Cullenaine from Southampton asks: I planted all the seeds and they have all come on really well. But now problems are starting to appear. My courgettes and French beans are out in my veg patch and were doing well. However, now they have brown patches all over them, they're crispy and they look like they're dying.

Answer: Well we do have the squash bug in Britain now which could be the cause. It is very similar to the shield bugs we know and love, so have a look and see if you see any of those about. I doubt you will, but we must be ever alert with our climate changing. Always water courgettes around the base, on to the soil, not over the plants which may get scorched. Also, if you have been remiss in keeping any of your plants well watered then dryness could well be the cause.

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Karen Kenny on whitefly, plus how to help courgettes to fruit

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Karen Kenny Karen Kenny | 07:26 UK time, Friday, 2 July 2010

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Karen Kenny, an allotment expert with the NSALG answers your questions about how to deal with whitefly on your basil, yellow flowers in your salad leaves and the one that all of you have been writing in about... what do you do if your courgettes have flowers but no fruit. If you have a similar story to share, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry. You need to register first, which only takes two minutes.

Lara Cullenaine from Southampton asks: My basil has white fly, how do I get rid of it? The basil plants are still quite small and haven't been separated into individual pots yet.

Answer: Oh dear those little varmints get everywhere, give them a good shot of water. If you have not yet separated them, have a bowl of tepid water close by with a tiny bit of salt added and as you transplant dip them in the water and wash off the white fly. Mmm love the smell of basil as well as the taste, don't you?

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