Latitude 14 Eastern Australia

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by sun burn, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Yes that's basically what i plan to do eco. Grow more than i need.

    Anyhow, progress....

    Yesterday I picked my first produce - four little radishes.
    The greens are coming along beautifully. All the asian greens. This year has been a wet mild winter, i wonder if this is making a difference to growing veges here.
    There are squash, eggplants, cucumbers and tomatoes on the vines and the first cucumber is just about ready to pick. I am not sure when i should pick it though. I've heard i shouldn't leave it too long and i don't intend to do that.
    The best (most spectacular) bed is the one in the dinghy into which i put a whole barrow full of matured cow manure before planting. All the plants are huge.
    A pumpkin collapsed from something the other day but i don't know what. It could be a bacterial wilt thing i read about recently. It happened so suddenly. But so far none of hte other plants have suffered.
    I planted a new bed of passionfruit vines a couple of days ago but otherwise i haven't been planting a lot because I want to improve the soil first before growing too much more. I am wondering if i am better off starting everything in seed trays too as some things didn't go in hte ground. I was really disappointed that the silverbeet and spinach didn't come up. The rocket is going quite well. The parsley is hardly moving. Its probably the ground.
    I've mulched most of my gardens now. And following Tim Marhsalls tip about sheet composting - which is making compost directly where its going to go which he said is a good thing to do in the tropics.
    My sugarcane is all sprouting. I must cover them with compost.
    The Banana corms i put in have all come good except for two.
    The ducks are doing well though they do make a mess with their feathers. I am collecting their poo everyday to go on the compost heaps.
    That about covers it for now i think.
     
  2. ebunny

    ebunny Junior Member

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    Hi Sun Burn

    We're both new starters in seems. I got chickens for the first time almost nine months ago. I started with an online chicken coop and then let them free range in the front garden. Mango (I named her that because she looked cool and laid back like the fruit in her first day with us - wouldn't call her than now) found that one of the pailings in the front garden was furthr apart than the others and squeezed through. Fortunately, she hung around the front door until my neighbour spotted her and told us. So I wired up all the bits where I thought she could squeeze through. Then she found she could tunnel under and went visiting the neighbour with chickens two door down (we live in suburban Sydney, so this was no small feet along the road). My neighbour brough her back and I made further adjustments. No escapes since then from Miss Mango.

    We've since built a large run so I can start converting the rest of the front garden to a food forest (so I tell myself - probably more akin to a veggie patch but hey...) I let them out just before dusk occassionally to have a bit of a rifle around and not do too much damage to what's there.

    I would love to have ducks but no space in this garden sadly. Next time.:)
     
  3. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    update:

    I feel i am graduating from organic growing to permie growing. Today I was hacking up green, note green, palm fronds for my new slow compost pile. I am not putting hydroponics in it, or kitchen veges. I am just putting sticks and green leaves and long grass with the roots still on and stuff like that which will take a while. I've put this compost heap under one our many many poinsettia trees (or is it poinsiana - i get confused). I figure i can't grow veges there so i might as well put a compost heap there and the shade will stop it from drying out and its right near where I will need it anyway.

    So today i was back on hte job of thinning out my golden palms when i realised that i could put the green parts on that pile. So i hacked them up with my secateurs. Later I went to have a go at our enormous exora hedge that needs taming. Just to get into it, i had to chop down a number of saplings. Decided I would chop off the green leaves and put htem on the heap. And realised i had some lovely stakes for my tomatoes with what was left. Then i pulled out a piece of brown vine that's been invading the garden for 20 years and of which i haven't yet got on top of. With my permie cap on I wondered what i could do iwth it. Its such a nice looking vine that I've often wished for something else to do with it. Usually thinking about weaving or craftmaking of some sort. But today i cottoned on to the idea of using it instead of wire for my peas to grow up.

    A friend just inspired me to start a photoblog of my garden. I think i will do that somewhere. Not sure where yet. I find it difficult to set up these damned blogs. I get frustrated and muddled and tend to give up prematurely. But now that i have a good reason to persist I just might.
     
  4. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    Hi Sun burn,

    I'm so jealous.
    I wish I lived in the tropics too, oh to be able to grow bananas, that would be fantastic-my absolute favourite.
    Actually I do have a banana plant that a neighbour gave me years ago.
    I pulled it out and threw it on the compost pile when I realised that it would never fruit and it grew there for years til I moved it elsewhere.
    Who knows the earth may tilt and I get to be closer to the equator.
    Love what you are doing and I am coming back to see how you are getting on.
    I want ducks too, we are supposed to be getting rabbits soon so the ducks will have to wait awhile.
     
  5. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Thanks mischief.

    Update and ramblings:
    Today I spent most of my time on the computer trying to start a blog for my garden. As yet i haven't got far. If you remember that thread somewhere started by someone who thought they were a techno dummy, i was volunteered my own ignorance. I just seem to go about things the wrong way. Luckily i found a 16 year old who is not a techno dunce and gave me a couple of clues to set me straight. Still my first post is not done and i am not sure when it will be complete.

    The aim of my blog will be a picture blog rather than lots of writing. I've read enough blogs to know that they are not really diaries and yet that's what I intend to make of mine. I haven't got the time to spend crafting beautiful prose. When i get it up properly, i will post a link.

    Back in my garden, I planted a few more seedlings. My seedlings which i've been growing in egg cartons are sometimes a bit tiny to be planting out perhaps. I put the cucumbers straight into the soil. I started another bed by loading it up with unfinished compost (as I don't have any finished) and then mulching it. The compost was so course that i was afraid the seeds might fall right through to the ground below. The pile of compost is a lot higher than the 4cm recommended and I wonder what will happen to these seeds. I sewed beetroot, spring onions, silverbeet and spinach. The last time i sewed silverbeet, beetroot straight into the garden as directed, i got very little result. Will the compost make a difference this time? I added seed raising mix to help prevent the seeds falling to the bottom. I am sure as I go along the results will get better as the ground gets better. But i am curious to see how this second attempt with the same things goes.

    Although its mid winter, on a sunny day like today the sun is quite intense and many of the leafy veges wilt. I give them a middle of the day watering, not being too sure whether or not I need to do this. But i wonder what will it be like come October November December when that midday intensity lasts almost all day. Will anything cope?

    I can't remember if I've mentioned this already but the ducks are tramping over one of my vege beds and chewing off a lot of things. I can cope so long as they don't find all the other beds because then I'd have to think about fencing them out which I am not keen to do.
     
  6. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Update: New info.

    Today I went shopping for more soil improvers and bought in addition two rosella plants and a strawberry plant. I don't know how well strawberries will grow here but i'd like to make jam so i thought i'd give it a go.

    This morning did some phone research and as a result have decided that i can grow peanuts as my main legume crop. I love peanuts and look forward to have lots of those to harvest. It will be a few months before I plant them though. Its really a few months before I cna plant most things as i am waiting for the rains to do most of the watering. If i plant now I will have a huge task of watering everything myself mostly by hand as a dry spell is just about upon us and it gets very hot.

    I phoned a nursery about fruit tress. I don't know how many i can afford to put in this year but i found out that i can expect to pay about $40 per tree. I will draw up a list of things I want to plant and try to figure out where i will put them all and start preparing the ground for them - which means clearing weeds and grass and starting quick compost piles next to the spot.

    The nursery also told me a good place to buy seeds locally. Enviromart in Cairns, Aumuller Street which stocks Eden Seeds.

    Someone mentioned a permaculture place on the tablelands Kim 4086 8019. I believe they are doing a course in september 5-19 but i don't think i want to do a course yet. Lack of money being the reason. I am not a purist type of person so I have no intention of making a puristical permaculture garden either. But also I don't want to learn about a whole lot of plants that aren't suitable for my area. The tablelands being a different climate to down here on the coast. I think it will be best for me to do my designing and planning from what i can gather from web sources and then consider a coures later if i still have issues to resolve.
     
  7. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Update and ramblings:

    I haven't got anywhere with my blog yet. Its too technical. I need some assistance and might get my bil to help when he's got time. I am trying with wordpress so if anyone knows anything that might help me get past Step A (signing up and choosing a theme) that could be good.

    Today I got a box of pineapple tops. I am thinking of planting them along one of the property boundaries where they can work as a fence against marauding dogs. This supplier will have plenty more boxes so in time if think its working i could have pineapples all around my block. I don't know if that's the best idea but its one idea. Dogs are not a huge problem but they could be when i get my chickens. The other thing about pineapples is that i know that while they are hardy they can be at risk of neglect so i might set up a drip system eventually to take care of the watering. To get them started, i've decided to plant them in pots first and have them ready to plant out sometime during the wet season. I should be able to have enough compost ready for them by then if that's what they need.

    Then i went to visit a friend in town for cuttings. I got a car load full of stuff and I can get more whenever i need it. None of it is food plants but just some nice ornamental bushy things. Fairly hardy stuff with a bit of colour in the leaves i think. I've no idea where i will put them but i guess something will come to mind by the time i am ready to plant them.
     
  8. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Update:

    I've begun hugulkulturing already. I made a bed thats about 30 metres long. It was already a big pile of rotting logs and I added a few more that were lying nearby. this pile has been bugging me for ages and now i know what to do. Only i haven't got any soil to cover it yet, or compost. But i hope by late November I will be able to complete it and plant it up iwth fruit trees.

    I put some passionfruits in and hope htey will go up some fairly inimpressive poinsettia trees.

    I transplanted the pomegranate for hte second time and put a log in the bottom of the hole along iwth some other goodies.

    The rest of the day was spent on making compost. I can see I will be doing this job for the rest of my gardening life.
     
  9. ebunny

    ebunny Junior Member

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    Hey Sun Burn

    I hope you've taken 'before" photos because its going to look so different in a years time. Would love to see some pics now as well....

    I'm excited because I have my first snow pea. I've got a heap that are in flower, but the first pod is there. Small things.....
     
  10. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Ebunny, i've got pics that i took last year. I 've got some from different periods the wet and the dry. Its a very difficult place to photograph but if i am a dramatic transition, it should be obvious.

    I have made a start on making it possible to take pictures. I had get the pictures off my card and put them on my external harddrive. Sounds like an easy task but nothing is easy for me when i feel unexcited about it. Slowly does it though and hopefully soon the blog will be going. I have made a somewhat starting realisation though. I must put myself in the pictures otherwise they will be really quite dull. If only i were more beautiful!

    I've been told not to plant fruit trees on top of those logs. The septic drain is close by and they will invade the trench. So I will have to plant smaller things instead.

    I got a book out of the library on landscaping so I am going to try to come up with a design. I find this type of task overwhelming but i think its got to be done if i don't want to end up with nothing looking sort of garden. As far as permaculture goes, the zone system etc doesn't really help me tackle it on its own. At least htat's how i feel about it. I can't afford to do much in the way of earthworks. Our ground slopes. Its been slightly terraced but there is still a lot of run off in heavy rain. I'd like to dig some ponds but i am not sure if i have to have fencing around them. If so, i'd be very reluctant to put ponds in at all. I am not even sure if holding the water is a great idea here as we get so much i wouldn't want it all to be waterlogged. Perhaps Tropical boy will help me out there.

    Yesterday I found a local shop selling eden seeds. The woman was very helpful. She saved me from buying asparagus and artichokes which she said best not to grow down on the coast while up on the tablelands they'd be fine. I did buy some guava and rosella seeds and this morning I planted them in trays. My sister found a good pawpaw and i sewed those in trays too as well as mustard greens.

    I started to think that the existing "nursery" might be the best place to make my vegetable garden. The ducks started chewing on my pumpkins and squash so i had to put a fence round them. Luckily there was something ready to hand. Its not very pretty but it will do for now. There's more caterpillar damage in the asian greens today. I didn't find any caterpillars just the egg like things they leave behind. i wonder if i should get rid of those? The dog likes the blood and bone i bought. I will have to hid the bag.
     
  11. ebunny

    ebunny Junior Member

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    Hey Sun Burn

    We're up in your part of the world at the moment. I'm a little jealous of the lushness of it all. Today we went to the Daintree Ice Cream factory and tasted macadamia nut and yellow samote ice cream - yum! They have all sorts of exotic fruit trees on their property, with signs... So of course I'm wandering around taking pics for future reference. I was like a kid in a candy store (even after I ate the ice cream).
     
  12. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Hi ebunny

    well you could stop in and say hi on your way back down if you like. I won't be here on Monday but I think i am at home on Tuesday. I am not too sure. I am supposed to be buying a car so ...

    Anyhow you can phone me if you like 4098 5358. I'm not far south of Port Douglas.

    Samote or Sapote?

    Update:

    I should have my chickens in a few more weeks. I've been told the hen is sitting on her eggs now. Let's hop nothing happens this time to upset her. But getting the chook house finished could be tricky as my helper is busy building a house. The snakes have started to show up so it rather matters a bit. It so warm now already. The tomatos are already wilting drastically in the middle of the day and I'm watering twice a day.

    On to the bigger picture, i've decided to try to come up with an over all design. I think i mentioned a landscaping book i got from the library. I have to wait until i can get the block put on a scale grid map. Its too difficult planning it other wise.

    Meanwhile i just continue to slowly make compost piles and put in a few more vege seedlings here and there.

    The eggplants are coming on in numbers that i will struggle to eat. And that's only from two bushes. I was thinking if it turned out that i could only grow tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, zucchinis, capsicums and potatoes (though i can't grow potatos), onions and garlic, i'd be very happy. With this lot, i'd stick to eating a greek diet. Really i don't need all the variety that is possible, although basil and mint, parsley and other herbs are good. But if only i could the damn coriander to go mad. It seems so delicate and slow.

    I found this nice book called The Best of Permaculture A collection. I"ve just read a nice article about growing flowers (which i intended to do anyway) for food. But i am glad to read that marigolds repel nematodes so I will grow them around my bananas - in fact, i think I will grow them everywhere. Those that I've planted are doing better than some of the veges. I also learn that i can eat hibiscus flowers.

    There's an article about an interesting thing called Kudzu. It seems to be good for absolutely everything. But whether it is too hot here I don't know. Its a legume that is native to Japan and China so its probably a temperate climate thing.
     
  13. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Update:

    Planning. My thoughts are developing every day but things are being held up becuase i don't yet have a gridded plan of our blcok which i need to commence a good plan. I been taken more by the idea of forest gardens and another good idea called xericulture which is using zones according to water requirements of the plants. Obviously it is similar to the zones in permaculture too. I found an excellent book on tropical food plants called ASIAN HERBS AND VEGETABLES by Penny Woodward. I've got to buy this one. I also got a couple of other good books out from the library. One is water-wise garden by jeffrey hodges and another is Ponds and water features by the Horticultural society.

    Today I took a walk around the block tying on white strings to the trees I am pretty sure i want to keep. A lot will have to come and be replaced but not in the immediate future. I've decided to make the "greenhouse" our main vegetable patch and began pulling up the weed mat that's been down for about 20 years. Its not an easy job. I think i am going to plant some non foody coloured shrubbery in a row in front of my rainforest patch and maybe also some coffee. For a long time i've known i needed to do something to provide more screening and sound buffering form the highway. Initially i was going to plant fruit trees there but i think they will be too high adn better off elsewhere. On the highway side of the road I am wondering about putting in some tall bamboos to provide screening on that side. I've wanted bamboo in for a long time but i can't find another suitable side of the block to put it. We've got telephone poles running up two sides of our block.

    The ducks had a big barney today. It was the girls giving each other a hard time. The drake, Bertie, basically seemed to be running away most of the time. I'd love to know precisely what it was about and what was going on in their heads. Those girls were being really quite vicious to one another. But hopefully they've kissed and made up by now.
     
  14. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Update:

    The beginnings of a vision. I mean literally. Late this afternoon i was standing on the new floor of my sister's house that's being built here looking out over our block. The house is situated at the top of the block and catches a lovely breeze. The block slopes down fairly gently facing east. I had just hacked away at a second overgrown Exora which until then had been blocking any view over the block. Wow what a vista! Or rather its going to be a wow vista. Quite a bit is still screened from view but i was getting the picture of how fantastic it could be now that i could see more. And it seemed to me that planting will have to go a certain way to make the most of this position. I do love to be able to look out over things but the way the place has been planted up is like a zillion little stuffy rooms. I am slowly going through pulling out (chopping down with my little axe) anything i deem useless or objectionable. I don't want to have to clear it all at once. I just want space to put in new things. But now i can see that the new things to put in must not obscure the view. It seems crystal clear to me that now i have to plant in a semi-circular pattern out from the eastern verandah with the tallest things at the sides. Yesterday i did not have this awareness in my head at all.

    Also i saw that if i chop down all the tall stuff on the right hand border and replant with lower growing shrubs and trees, we will have a wonderful clear view of the hills. At the moment very little of a view is available through that southern side of the block. It is the best side to get this view too as our neighbours have only a bare lawn there and the other two sides of the property have street and telephone poles. I marvel daily now how clever my bil is to have sited the house where it is. Everyone but me would have chosen this position but i had thought a central position for the house would be best. Now i see i'd be wrong. Luckily my opinion was never needed. I won't be living in the house in the long term. I have to live elsewhere on the block but that's ok so long as i can visit the house and be the main gardener. If whatever i do in the next two or threes is good, i don't think anyone will try to challenge me for that position either.

    One of the nicest things when looking out eastward is that a row of poinsianna trees (or are they poisettias) not too far away from the house have grown very tall and provide a beautiful canopy which is not very dense. I know I will wish there be more of these. Many more were planted originally but most have not reached these heights because of insufficient water.

    Workwise today i began pulling down the shade cloth on the nursery. It grows in a north south direction. With the cloth down, more of the rainforest trees behind are visible. I also began trying to tidy it up more as i've decided to make it my main vegetable garden. Its possible that my sister might want to create her own vege patch nearer her house but she also might just prefer to pick from this one. It doens't matter which.

    If i haven't made the picture clear enough, think of something like an amphitheatre and the house as the stage. That is the image i will use to guide me in my garden design.
     
  15. ebunny

    ebunny Junior Member

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    Hi Sun Burn

    I haven't been back on until now and only just saw your offer for a visit. Apologies as that would have been great (back home in Sydney now via a work trip to Ballarat where it was very, very cold).

    I'm loving your vision by the way. Sounds like you're in a great spot.
     
  16. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Nevermind ebunny. If you ever come up again, you can drop in.

    Update:

    My tomatos, which are have been growing beautifully in the dingy, are under threat. It seems to be something called Bottom End Rot. I've lost a couple so far and hope i've been able to prevent further. It seems to be caused by calcium uptake from the soil and the condition is created by problems with water supply. The problem is the heat, the great transpiration of water from the leaves. I've been watering daily. Yesterday i read it could be caused by either too much water as well as not enough. I am only watering twice when they look as if they might fall over in the middle of the day or would do if i don't water them. I also added some lime to the top of the soil in case there was insufficient calcium in it and finally i mulched it. I don't really think the mulch will do much but you never know.

    I will be very sad if all those tomatoes rot before ripening. I want to eat them!

    Its pretty plain now that certain sections of where i began my first vege patches are just crummy soil. It wasn't as if it was a secret but i didn't have time to prepare the ground and i wanted to plant things straight away while the cool weather was here. The Asian greens have done pretty well but the rocket is still quite pathetic and yet i thought rocket was really easy to grow. The corn has just started growing ears so i guess pollination has worked there but so far there are no zucchinis on those plants and none of the other curcubits look particularly promising and have been either chewed by the ducks, succumbed to some sort of wilting disease and got the white mould disease.My capsicum seedlings are growing bigger than 2cm either in a tray or the garden bed but the marigolds are steaming along; the okra just stopped growing at about 10 cm and so far the tomatoes here haven't shown any promise. The peas that came up really quickly in the first month are slowly dying and will never amount to anything. Some seeds planted directly into the beds never showed up at all. I ate all the radishes that did mature but that wasn't too many and some never grew a root at all.

    Well there are many lessons in all this and i haven't grasped them all yet.

    I found a great book on Pests and Diseases and organic cures. It is What Garden Pest or Disease is that? by Judy McMaugh. I haven't had a chance yet to check out the others that were recommended so I don't know which one i'll get just yet. Its handy that the library has one i can borrow anyway. And while I can diagnoise my problems online, this book has preventative medicine as well.
     
  17. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    The First Tomato

    ... is sitting on the bench until tomorrow morning when I will be able to eat it.

    There's something special about the first piece of fruit or vegetable off the first plant you grow of that type. Since i was so worried they'd all succumb to bottom end rot, i am really proud of this tomato and have high hopes it will taste good too. It could be ordinary. The cucumbers although they looked good tasted just like all other cucumbers. But you know what i mean about anticipating a home grown tomato ripened on the vine because we all know how bad they can be from the supermarket.

    Well i couldn't eat it yet as i picked it just before going off to work. Thinking we should all sample it after i returned. It hadn't been cut up when i got back and as people were just heading off to bed i thought it best to hold over until tomorrow. Let's hope a rat doesn't find it over night.

    As to the rest of the garden. Well I am still waiting for my grid plan so i can start designing. There have been delays, so i am afraid to plant anything now until a proper plan has been drawn.

    I've potted up some more cuttings of non-edibles and noticed that most of my earlier batch have taken root and are going strong.

    The cassava looks like its going to enjoy where i've put it and the odd bit of rain we've had lately has helped. Things were starting to dry out rapidly but we've had two lots of rain since and its greening up again already. The New Guinea spinach is doing well though that too is still in a box because i don't know where i am going to plant it. I don't know anything about this plant. Its a tropical vegetable and i won't know whether i like eating it until it gets going.

    I met an interesting woman at the markets last Sunday. She knew a lot about farming and also about permaculture. She's had a foot in both worlds it seems. She warned me to be careful about some of these tropical plants that sound so promising. She said they can turn into nuisances, though i sort of find it hard to believe that Penny Woodward wouldn't have noticed that when she was researching her book on asian herbs and veges. I think the bigger problem will be sourcing seeds and plants.

    The chickens i ordered have hatched but i am going to hold off getting them until more are born as there are not enough in the batch and b) our chicken shed isn't finished yet. The housebuilding that's been going on in the past two months has monopolised the manpower and this woman doesn't know how to build a doorway or manoeuvres sheets of iron up to 8 feet high to make a roof over the pen. I need my father's assistance.
     
  18. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I wonder do you have a solution to your blossom end rot Sunburn? It is most often caused by a lack of calcium and to spread some lime or dolomite may help save the rest. We dust with dolomite if we see it coming and water a bit into the soil but not too much.
     
  19. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    After reading about it, I did a few things. I put some lime on the soil and watered it in. I put down some mulch and i stopped watering twice a day. Just yesterday or the day before i chopped off some of the tomato leaves. I think it is under control now but i am not sure. Of course given all the things i've tried, i am now not sure if any cure is due to one or more remedial factors. But next time I will put lime on the soil. I suspect that was at least part of the problem as i hadn't put any on before. The thing is everything else in the dinghy is growing well and producing healthy vegetables - cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, rocket and even coriander. I've also got small basil in there as well.

    So i've eaten hte tomato now. It wasn't the best tomato i have ever had but i suspect this is due to the breed. I don't remember what breed it is. It tasted much like a supermarket tomato. Still i am not complaining too much. It will be nice to have tomatoes ripe from the vine. And i am loving my little cherry tomato. I have a handful whenever i go down to fuss about in the garden. I don't even bother picking htem for salads and i think of them as medicine; A sweet gentle medicine; ie Vitamin C at its very best.

    So now the challenge will be to find a good breed of tomato. I've got some grosse lisse in and some roma. They are not doing that well i think as my ground is shit and its not recovered enough yet. But slowly slowly. Future years should be better.
     
  20. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    It does take time to build good soil. Tomatoes will do well in very rich soil and many old organic gardeners plant them deep into pure fresh cow poo. You could try enriching the planting hole with cow poo or compost while the rest of the soil comes up to scratch
     

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