Saturday, 23 July 2011

A feeling of unease

I didn't sleep well last night. Well, I didn't sleep at all - I only managed to drift off after dawn (announced by an hour of shrieking gulls - this is one of the noisiest times of year for them - it's like living in a bird sanctuary). I was running over all the things I hadn't done so far this year, all the plans that came to nothing, and worse, the plans I started and let fall away. The plants I neglected, the patches of weeds, the delayed crops.

One source of concern at the moment is the tomatoes. In the previous post, they must have sounded quite healthy - growing taller, setting fruit. But all is not well. The outdoor tomato plants are healthy - deep green, stocky, flowering. Many of the flowers, however, are taking an age to open, and many more that do aren't setting fruit. In the greenhouse, things are reversed - there are lots (dozens, even) fruits forming, but the plants do not look well. The largest, those planted way back in May, are worryingly spindly, etiolated things - all their leaves, save those they already had when they went in there, are curled back on themselves and tiny, the stems stretched out. Compared in particular to my friend's greenhouse tomatoes, from the same stock of plants, sown in the same way, at the same time, in the same place, are archetypal - whereas mine are downright sick looking.

I have looked into it. The first signs of leaf curling I feared were disease - but all the experts say, curling leaves are a sign of health, though possibly of cooler nights, but absolutely nothing to worry about. But now... it hasn't gone away, it's spread. I have watered them, fed them, cut off side shoots, tied them in. They are flowering, and fruiting, as I say, though the fruit is showing no sign at all of taking on colour. I got it into my head last night that maybe twinwall polycarbonate is unsuitable for greenhouses after all - I have made massive mistakes before - and they were to all intents and purposes growing in darkness (UV-darkness, anyway). But today, I consulted a range of sources, and all agree, it's an ideal material to build a greenhouse from. So I am left with the less expensive, but still worrying conclusion that they are diseased. I hope I get a crop from them - so far so good. But I won't settle until those spindly boughs are dripping with red, yellow, cream, green, and orange baubles. It seems I have a long, anxious wait ahead...

Can you see what I mean? These plants are now getting as tall as me, but they are terribly thin...

No comments: