An Update on the Plants

Regretfully, I have still not recovered from hols, either mentally of physically. For some reason or other, today my legs have been aching like billy-o. (Is that how the word is spelt?) I’ve been reading around, trying to catch up, but it is hard work. My brain is not yet ready to take seriously statements such as: “Cameron is not happy about progress regarding reformation of the system of assessments of budgetary needs in the EU” – words to that affect. Note my little bit of emphasis – it is not the contributions that bothers him, it is the system of assessments. In other words, he doesn’t mind paying out squillions of pounds for the EU to waste, provided that the system is reformed. That seems to be much the same thing as what happened in Greece. The referendum gave the Tsipras Government authority to refuse to impose further austerity. What happened? Tsipras accepted the proposals for further austerity. Perhaps he was happy that the system had been changed so as NOT to appear that the troika had imposed austerity, but that the Greek Government itself imposed the measures. That’s OK then.

Brain pain is not nice, so I’m taking it easy tonight. How about some pics of the plants taken today? You will see a white strip in the pics. That is a 30 cm (1 foot) ruler for scale:

2015-07-30 20.01.27

2015-07-30 20.01.19

As you can see, those plants are doing quite well (apart from the nibbling here and there). The ones that are doing well are the ones around the edges of the plot. Those in the centre are not good at all—-

2015-07-30 20.02.01

I’m going to try watering those centre plants with a weak fertiliser solution directly around the roots in the hope that it will give them a boost.

Plot 2 is doing quite well:

2015-07-30 19.57.14

Most of plot 2 is taken by the plants which Ed gave me. Those also continue to grow, but they are different varieties and I am not sure what they should do:

2015-07-30 19.57.38

Those plants have been budding, but I have remove the buds. I don’t want them to waste energy flowering and setting seed. I want all their energy to go into the leaves. The leaves seem to be green and healthy so I dare hope that they will bulk up as time passes.

I’ve said from time to time that I am way, way behind this year, but I have been looking back at 2014 and 2013. and the situation is not that bad. Here is a pic from 2014 about this time:

2014-07-30 17.29.49

There isn’t an awful lot of difference with the first two pics above is there? Here’s one from 2013 at this time:

2013-07-26 14.37.22

Much better, but not all the plants were doing so well:

2013-07-14 18.22.21


So there we are. There are still three months of growing season left, but we could do with some reasonably warm, sunny weather.

The seeds from 2014 seem to be crap. If any of this year’s plants actually reach flowering and seeding stage, I expect those also to be crap. But it doesn’t matter since my 2013 seeds are still fine. Since each plant produces thousands of seeds, only one needs to go all the way. We’ll see.

I’ve been concerned about those areas of my plots, especially plot 1, which seem to be not very fertile. The areas, as can be seen in the 3rd pic down, are predominantly in the centre. And yet these areas were fertilised in the same way as the rest. Why do weeds, grass and other plants grow perfectly well? It is a mystery.

Anyway, my compost heap, mostly consisting of rotting vegetation, grass cuttings and used teabags, is building up at the same time as collapsing. Worms and bacteria are breaking the vegetation down at lower levels into ‘humus’, which is not mineral matter but is biological matter.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not it is possible to ‘over-fertilise’ the soil. I think that we need to understand what the word ‘fertilise’ means. If we are talking about concentrated chemicals, unevenly distributed, I would say definitely “Yes”, but I do not see any reason to believe that rotted vegetation, no matter how big the quantity, dug into the soil, could possibly provide too intense a solution of chemicals. Actually, you do not need to dig it in. Rain will wash the material into the soil over time.

So I have a plan for this winter. Both plots to be deeply dug over and humus from the compost heap to be scattered all over. Bone meal and tobacco ash to also be scattered all over.

My God! What fun I have in store for this coming winter!



8 Responses to “An Update on the Plants”

  1. Ed Says:

    Welcome back! 🙂

    The plants are doing well considering the late start and the fact we’ve not had much sunshine up here in the North West.

    All the plants are types of brightleaf cultivars, so despite the differing phenotypes, their only real differences are their harvest times. I’ve found the Golden Burley to be the earliest and have harvested quite a bit of leaf of these already. The Golden Burley and Monte Calme Yellow have pale yellowy leaves anyway, so have proved easy to cure too.

    The Virginia Gold plants, although they flowered first, their leaves seem to take longer to “prime”, so haven’t harvested much off these yet, except for the lower mud leaves. They did surprise me by bulking up quite a bit this month after I removed the flowering buds. I left one to flower and have been harvesting the flowers/calyx every other day. These have been quite nice to smoke, so will definitely let a few flower again next year!

    Fingers crossed, the sun might come out to play again and give them a boost!

    • junican Says:

      I’ve noticed that the stalks of the plants you gave me seem to be thickening up a little, but it is a little. It is to be hoped that the leaves also broaden, lengthen and thicken as time passes.
      I wonder if the slowness in the plants gaining height is because of the paucity of sunlight? As we know, seedlings ‘stretch’ towards the light. We are all familiar with the idea of plants becoming ‘leggy’ (elongated) if they get too much sunlight when the roots are not yet ready for it. I have this thought that, given a couple of weeks of warmth and sunshine, the plants will ‘stretch’ towards the sunlight and grow higher. It is all very weird.
      As you can see from my pics, the Virginia Gold plants have big, broad leaves, which is what attracted me to them in the first place.
      Today, I have harvested loads of little sand lugs. If the plants had been growing massively, I probably wouldn’t have bothered! Anyway, it has turned out to be quite a bulky lump of vegetation,well worth gathering. For tonight, I have towelled them into two groups – greener and yellower. One towel has the greener and the other has the yellower. Both towels are warming in the heated propagator.
      As regards the yellower group, I expect just a couple of days to ferment them a little and sufficiently. The greener group might take four or five days.
      We shall we what we shall see. I am already planning for next year!

  2. CynaraeStMary Says:

    Have you tried maybe letting the soil rest a season every some years between growing?

    • junican Says:

      Oh yes, CSM, I have thought of leaving fallow for a year, but I’m 76. How much time do I have? I’m resigned to this year being problematical. At one point, due to problems germinating the seeds and keeping the seedlings alive, I even contemplated having to write this season off. Whatever I can grow to fruition will have to do this year. The odd thing is that the plants which Ed gave me seem to be OK, and they are situated where I have grown plants for the last three years.
      I have a plan for after the end of this growing season – around the end of November. My plan involves getting really stuck into plot preparation early. First, I shall spread compost and bonemeal all over and really dig it in. The urine treatment can wait until the coldest months so as not to encourage algae growth on the surface of the soil. Around March, the big lumps of soil will be broken up into a tilth. I shall germinate no later than the 1st March – probably late in February. I intend to succeed!

      • CynaraeStMary Says:

        Ah, I see your point. And you’d lose a year’s harvest. I had tipped you to being much younger.

        Did you see that new EU rule against trading of seeds? I’m not sure why such a rule would be needed.
        I suggested my mum that she could wear a trenchcoat and stand down by the old public library with the drug dealers doing seed trading. Although it could get problematic if a druggie thought that hibiscus seeds was a code for drugs and not in fact just seeds.

        Your holiday looked lovely. I wanted to ask, as it seems like you have a bit experience, if you could recommend a holiday place for me and Leggy?
        I have a big birthday coming up so I’m saving up for the two us to go on a charter trip. I’ve never been on one and I’ve always wanted to.

      • junican Says:

        Several points there!
        I have quite a big garden. I’m thinking of having a redesign this winter, aged though I am.
        In the centre, at the back, I have a small rock garden. That is, an area, about 6′ square, which is raised up a little and surrounded by rocks. In that patch, I plant annuals obtained from the garden centre. I have in mind to move that rock garden elsewhere. The lawn is far bigger than it need be. It used to be great when our daughters were younger and our grand children were little, but it serves no useful purpose these days. I have in mind to move the rock garden into the centre of the lawn and free up that space for my backy plants.

        I’ve just had a quick look at the EU thing about seeds. I think that it is more about the big growers and marketers. I doubt that they will ever get round to ordinary people selling a few seeds of this or that variety of pansy, or trading among themselves via the internet!

        Regarding holidays, I am far, far from any sort of expert!

        I don’t book charter holidays. I arrange the flight and the hotel bookings myself on the net. However, there are good deals by charter. I have looked up a Jet 2 holiday package as an example. Here it is:

        I have had to use Manchester for the departure airport since I don’t know what airport you would use. Also, I do not know what dates you would want and so I have used 2nd October. As an example, the holiday would be 7 nights. The cheapest is £329 each self catering in a one bedroom apartment.

        I don’t think that you could fault the price, but it would worth investigating further to ensure that it does indeed include flight, room, luggage and bus to hotel. The offer includes £100 discount per person.

        Hope that helps.
        By the way, I checked the map and all the hotels and apartments in that list are around the centre of the town.

      • CynaraeStMary Says:

        Do you have any family or something to help with the garden?
        I do find it rather fascinating that you grow your own tobacco. Leggy is definitely the one with the green thumb. I really want to but I sadly have a bit of a black thumb. I’ve even managed to kill 3 cacti? Cactuses?

        True, would be a big waste of resources to go after every private person who traded seeds with the neighbours or friends.

        Wow! Thank you. That’s much more than I was expecting. I’ve saved the link.

      • junican Says:

        When I said that I was 76, I didn’t mean to give the impression that I doddered around using a zimmer frame! But I don’t rush these garden jobs. Why should I when I’m retired? I usually get my work-togs on about 3 pm and do about three hours of gentle labouring with frequent tea breaks.
        Growing the plants is not difficult, but this year has been very peculiar. It all adds to one’s experience. I counted those plants which are not growing properly and they come to 12. That’s not bad since I planted about 50 of my own and there are a dozen which Ed gave to me. It isn’t really the number of plants – it is the lack of sunshine which is delaying growth.
        I’ll be all the better prepared next year!
        Glad the holiday site was useful. At least it gives you some idea of what is possible.

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