The Two Imposters

failuresThere may well be many successes in the garden and plans coming to fruition, but that is not to say there have not been failures too. The fruit cage and its contents rarely appear on the blog and in fact for much of the year are not included in the daily rambles, but they did receive a visit last week to check on the progress of the double cropped autumn fruiting raspberries. I hadn’t got as far as the raspberries when I noticed a distinct defoliation of the blackcurrants – closer inspection revealed these woolly deposits (above left) and some sort of scale insect which Google informed me was woolly vine scale, something I have never seen before. They are sap sucking critters and although they won’t kill the bushes there will be virtually no blackcurrants this year; treatment, I believe, is simple a matter of wiping them off with soapy water. No apparent sawfly on the gooseberries – a triumph, hurrah! All embryonic gooseberries covered in mildew – disaster, boo!

IMG_2232Still down at the ‘productive’ end of the garden, in and around the greenhouse, there have been mixed results with all the sowings. Unfortunately, unlike basic KS2 science experiments, there are too many variables to ascertain the likely cause. Was it the compost, watering with (fresh) rainwater, sowing too early, poor drainage? Hard to say, but I have resown some things with better results – it’s warmer and lighter, and the compost is different, so who knows? Certainly tomatoes sown in February are tiny compared to those sown two months later (back and middle rows, Gardeners’ Delight and Marmande sown February, front row GD sown in April). It is a similar story in the new cutting beds (below left), where few of the plants are really thriving, having never really got going once they were first potted on, although I do have cerinthe and cosmos about to flower, but on insubstantial plants. BUT very healthy sweet peas that are also just beginning to flower – definitely a triumph! I must confess to a bigger and more expensive disaster too – somehow managing to kill off my multi-stemmed Viburnum bodnantense  ‘Dawn’, below right (leaves belong to the adjacent cornus)…..

Triumph and Disaster? Pah! All the same to me….


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22 Responses to The Two Imposters

  1. Christina says:

    Ah! Gardening! Who’d do it? Well I suppose a lot of us. Seed germination is strange, I had virtually no leeks from an early sowing (warmth and light were plentiful) but lots from a later one. Shame about the fruit, I have problems growing fruit too, seems the plants need treating and spraying and I’m not keen (read good) at doing it.

    • Cathy says:

      Ah well, and I am not good (read keen) at treating and spraying fruit, but here it generally takes care of itself as long as I can accept losing the gooseberries to sawfly on alternate years or so. Apart from a bit of bonemeal I don’t do anything other than prune and pick.

  2. AnnetteM says:

    You put on a brave face Cathy, but isn’t it devastating when aphids take over a whole plant! It is impossible also to keep an eye on the whole garden all the time. You can probably tell from my comments that I too have an aphid problem – but more about that in my next post, if I ever get time to write it. It was very interesting to hear about the different results from your different sowings. You would have expected the earlier ones to have caught up once the weather improved. Did you use the same batch of seeds?

    • Cathy says:

      It’s just one of those things, although I really would have been upset to lose my loganberries or raspberries to pests or disease because they are my staple breakfast accompaniment for the year! It is odd about the seeds, but I suspect it was probably a bad batch of compost – ‘Which? Gardening’ pictures of good/bad composts are quite revealing, and although mine was a Best Buy there will inevitably be some variation. And yes, seeds from the same packet.

  3. Pauline says:

    Such a shame about your black currants, I’ll have to watch out for that pest here. One year the blackbirds beat me to the gooseberries, I had decided to pick them the next day, but they had all gone overnight! I wouldn’t mind but they were netted, blackbird had made a space and knew just how to get out again!
    Is your Viburnum definitely dead, one of my Viburnums, Onondaga, looks dead but is sprouting near to the base, I will see if it recovers.

    • Cathy says:

      Getting into netted fruit is usually a lot easier than getting out, isn’t it?! Hopefully our re-netted fruit cage is even more bird proof now but off course they can’t get at the pests either! Hope your gooseberries are safe this year. You have given me some hope about the viburnum – it produced leaf buds and a few flower buds but they all failed to open and some of the stems are definitely dead, but I have not decided yet whether to cut them all back and then wait to see if any new shoots are produced. What do you think?

  4. The trials and tribulations of life in the garden. Don’t let it get you down.D.

    • Cathy says:

      It’s OK, I shan’t – the seed experience is all part of the learning curve, and at least I know what woolly vine scale looks like now!! 🙂

  5. croftgarden says:

    Such is the life of a gardener and the sun will come out tomorrow or the next day or whenever. Don’t worry I’ll send a food parcel.

    • Cathy says:

      It’s OK, Christine, I have broad shoulders (just to add tho the picture) … And where have I heard references to a food parcel before…?! 🙂

  6. Ah, well, we have to take the rough with the smooth. We could try to cheer ourselves up by saying that’s how we learn!

  7. wellywoman says:

    You have my sympathies. Woolly scale whatsit. I can’t say I’ve even heard of it and I spent a long time doing a pest module on my RHS course. Maybe I’d nodded off. 😉 Just out of curiosity what compost have you sown your tomatoes in? I had similar problems last year. I went to the plot today and saw my sugar snap peas which were about 4ft had been severed just above the base. I think mice might be the culprits 😦 . Hopefully I still have time to resow.

    • Cathy says:

      The compost was a best buy B&Q one, recommended by Which Gardening – they showed photos of growth in best buys versus don’t buys, and the difference is astonishing and could account for most of the disappointing results people get. I think I must have had a dodgy batch, as of course each bag cannot be exactly the same. Shame about your peas – as you say hopefully it’s not too late to resow. I have resown about half a dozen things, but mostly flowers.

  8. Its a very up and down experience, this gardening lark, isn’t it! I think variable compost quality has a lot to answer for, I am near certain that I have a bad batch of my peat free multi purpose compost, and consequently my chillies and sweet peppers look disastrous this year. Don’t give up on your vibunum yet, they are tough plants, a good feed and cutting back anything that is definitely dead might help, you can always try cutting a short piece off an apparently dead branch to prove it is actually dead rather than lazy. We moved a huge vibunum bod… earlier this spring and it is leafing up quite nicely now, after initially giving me palpitations.

    • Cathy says:

      I am pretty sure the existing stems are dead as they have snapped when I tentatively tried them – I’ll probably cut them right down and keep hoping there might be some growth. I know it’s in a pot, but it IS a big pot….

  9. Anna says:

    Oh sorry to read about the fate of your blackcurrants and goosegogs Cathy. It’s amazing how these pests and diseases can strike overnight. I’m still getting over what the goosegog sawfly did last year. Hope that the raspberries are thriving. As for seed sowing there’s another myriad of mysteries and challenges. I am convinced now that April is a better month for sowing than March for most things – a combination I think of generally warmer days and extra daylight. When did you buy and plant your viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’?

    • Cathy says:

      I think I may buy new gooseberries – these have been here longer than we have so don’t owe us anything and have rarely cropped well – but I will buy more. The raspberries, loganberries and other currants are all doing well (and the latter 3 have been here as long as the gooseberries). The Viburnum was bought early last year from Crocus, but by the time I realised that it was showing no signs of life it was more than 12 months – but Crocus have given me a partial credit which was good of them. It is in a pot, but a big pot, and was creating buds in the autumn but which never opened and became desiccated 😦 Regarding the sowing, I shall certainly sow most things later next year, and keep myself occupied with other things in Feb and March!

  10. Cathy sorry to read of your garden downs, it doesn’t seem to be a good year for ribes, I’ve read of other disasters and two of my gooseberries got rust, how strange about your viburnum ‘dawn’ as I mention once before I have one that is still small and never flowered but is alive, do you think your’s exhausted it’s self as if I remember it flowered well,
    the ups and downs of seed sowing and growing, I’ve found also that sowing later actually gives a stronger plant, compost does seem to vary, I used to think when things went wrong it was me, but from reading blogs of ‘real gardeners’ I am learning that it might not be me, even the same make of compost can vary bag to bag,
    take heart, Frances

    • Cathy says:

      I used to think like that too, Frances, that I was at fault, but I realise now there are many different variables – I know I used to only tinker with seed sowing, but I have learned such a lot from my successes and failures this year now I am taking it more seriously. All part of the perpetual learning curve! 🙂

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