Notes from the Wolves Lane glasshouse
By Beth Stewart, our Box Scheme Grower
It's an exciting time of year for us at the Crop Drop Wolves Lane glasshouse. The fruits of our labour of the last 6 months are finally coming to fruition. In the last few weeks our tomatoes, cucumbers and french beans have all hit peak production. We'll be harvesting about 100kg a week of those three crops over August. The plants are a few weeks behind other years, in large part down to the cold and grey late spring, where the tomatoes barely grew. But the weather of late has been making up for that.
The trick is now to try and convince the plants to keep going and to maximise their production. We feed everything with liquid seaweed to support them to continue to produce and make sure we're regular with the watering. For the toms and the cucs an important part of this is limiting their growth – they're both so prolific that we actually limit how many fruits they produce to make sure that the toms ripen and the cucs get to a nice size (otherwise we end up with lots of green toms and lots of tiny cucs). In a few weeks time we'll be cutting the heads off the tomatoes. This is to make sure that they spend all the time until mid October (when they're pulled out and replaced with winter salads) developing and ripening the fruit they have on them already, otherwise it's green tomato chutney for everyone!
Another important task in the late summer is keeping an eye on pests and disease. For the cucs we have a tiny, invisible to the eye, mite called the Red Spider mite who likes to make mischief by spreading viruses across the plants. If we find any red spider mites with our magnifying glass we buy in predatory mites to gobble them up! For the tomatoes the main worry is blight. We get it most years at some point (particularly in hot and damp conditions), so the main thing is to keep on top of it by chopping off blighty leaves regularly and removing them from the glasshouse to control their spread.
Glasshouse photos by Kyra Hanson
Photo of Beth by Amanda Stockley