Saturday 13 July 2013

Patio Growing Update Summer 2013 (cont) - Chillies, Squashes and Donkeys

My experience with the two varieties of chillies ("Patio Fire" and "Bird Eye / Demon") and the "Mini Belle Red" peppers I am trying this year bears out my conclusions from last year and my observations with the salad crops and herbs that nothing is gained by planting too early. The seedlings hardly moved until the weather really warmed up but now things are moving apace.

Chillies on their way
The mini tomatoes (Tumbler and Tiny Tim) that I grew from seed have also progressed well. As yet no fully ripe fruit but plenty on the way which will make a nice addition to the excellent Pomodorino's that are readily available at the local market.

Tumbler tomatoes nearly ready
I have purposely planted the tomatoes and basil with or close to each other to reap the benefits of companion planting.

Good companions - Greek Basil and Tiny Tim tomatoes
Similarly with the scallop squash although in this case the copious yellow courgette like flowers seem to be very attractive to ants which have descended upon them with gusto resulting if fewer of the flowers setting fruit than I would imagine should be the case. I am trying to source a local remedy for this issue. In addition a couple of the local perennial basils appear to be taking all the nutrients from the large tubs I have them in to the detriment of the tomatoes and squashes also planted in the tubs. I therefore decided I needed to try a supplement to boost these particular plants. Having looked at the local garden centres for plant food I was astounded at the price being sought and decided to broaden my horizons in seeking a solution.

In the longer term I have comfrey seed ready to go in so that I can make my own comfrey "tea". But (hopefully) with the arrival soon of the excavation plant to traverse across the plot to start  digging into the hillside to create the foundation for my earth sheltered house I am reluctant to plant anything on the plot. Time enough when all the heavy equipment has finished on site. Therefore I needed another source of nutrient for my tomatoes and squashes. As luck would have it we discovered, an excellent source of organic mulch/supplement at the local Donkey Rescue Centre that we had been meaning to visit for sometime. So on our next bill paying, market shopping, internet cafe trip we added on a trip to the Agia Marina Donkey Rescue in Southern Crete.

This sanctuary for old, sick and unwanted donkeys was founded in 2006 and is a non-profit making, charitable organisation. They receive no Government funding and are totally reliant on public donations, donkey sponsoring and fundraising events. No needy, unwanted or sick donkey will be turned away but will be warmly welcomed to the rescue centre and given all the love and the care they need for the rest of their lives. The family that run the centre are delightful people, they made us very welcome and gave us a full  rundown of everything they were doing to enable the rescued donkeys to live out their lives in safety and comfort. Check out their website Agia Marina Donkey Rescue for more details and ways in which you can help this great cause.

Commercial break over back to the nutrient supplement issue. With the large number of donkeys they have there is a lot of donkey pooh and waste straw is available. As part of their money earning enterprises this mix is piled up, allowed to rot down and then bagged as an organic mulch. This seemed my ideal solution for and organic mulch/supplement I was seeking so I left with three large bags of excellent mulch material. This has been applied to the appropriate pots and is immediately slowing up the evaporation rate from the large tubs and the plants are looking healthier.