The Also-rans

If you know horse racing terms, you will recognise the term ‘the also-rans’. Those are the ones in the race, the stragglers that never quite made winning. Like some of my plants, I am always surprised at the ones which, throughout the summer had to be coaxed into making an effort to do anything, but when you want everything cleared up, those are the ones hanging onto dear life.

My last courgette, small though it was, was being carefully watched lest it started to rot. slugIt always looked healthy and always I would think I would leave it a little longer. Too late, I wasn’t the only one watching apparently. There were fairly large bite size chunks out it. Of course it is difficult to determine the culprit. Slugs and snails always seem to have dainty little mouths, but they can’t be so dainty if they can house around 24,000 teeth! Perhaps rasps are the best way of describing them because they have neither teeth nor fangs, it just seems as if they have. So I said farewell to my little courgette. 

Strawberry plants (Vibrant) are looking quite sturdy and very green, with several trailers of plantlets. They were a late buy, described as heavy cropping and very sweet, but I will need to wait until next year to find out. The Sonata, which I usually grow, now has a livery of bright red. 

A smaller pot of sunflowers, ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, is just starting to flower so we may get the some benefit of its display of multi-head flowers but it’s a hybrid and sterile, so no chance of growing it next year from seed. So for me, it’s probably been a waste of money buying it.

Sunflowers and marigolds

Calendulas (Pot Marigold), are still hanging on, which is more than I can say for the kale it’s growing with. Caterpillars have reduced them to skeletons. I am hoping the colder weather will have driven these hungry little predators elsewhere and not developed a homing instinct to return for next year’s crops. There is evidence of both large and small cabbage white caterpillars. The achocha is still growing up the frame and producing fruit and being at their best before ripening, means they can still be harvested before the frost. Tasting like cucumber when raw and green peppers when cooked, they are a handy and hardy little fruit to grow.

Kiwi, lonesome

The prize this year for sheer determination has to go to the cocktail kiwi (Actinidia arguta). It originates from Siberia and I would expect it could cope even with our Scottish weather. This year we had severe, late spring frosts, following weeks of heavy rain, gale force winds then six weeks of the driest, hottest weather we have seen in a very long time. There were several fruits formed but none matured and throughout the torrential rain and an assortment of storms, one little fruit clings on. I will re-pot the plant for next year in the hope the fresh start will give it some extra verve to cope with whatever the weather will throw at it.

Unfortunately there seemed to be a decline of wasps here this year. They sting humans but we may be the most fortunate of their victims as they are no respecters of anything, and treat all insects in a similar way either paralysing them or eating them, including caterpillars. This is probably the only reason I could say, the wasp is your friend. They are actually invaluable to gardeners, whether we like them or not. wasp-clip-art-wasp-md

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