Monday, 20 July 2009

The Mystery of the Flabby Peas

Today when I checked the peas to see if any were ready, I found some pods were "flabby". For those not familiar with peas, pea pods are firm to the touch, even when the peas are tiny. Today some of the pods were soft and squishy - something I've never seen before. I could also see some faint brown marks on some of the soft pods. So I picked all the soft ones as they clearly weren't going to grow anymore, along with other firm pods which were ready for picking and checked with Dr Hessayon's excellent book when I got home.

The diagnosis - probably a fungal condition due to the excessive wet of the monsoon-like weather we are experiencing (more due tomorrow). I haven't had this problem before, but apparently it's more common with early peas like mine, in excessively wet conditions. So why didn't I have it in the last two years? I think the answer lies in the cold spring - this year spring was much later than the warm springs of 2007 and 2008, so the peas were ready later. Last year they were over before the monsoon rains. The answer of course is to spray the ground with chemicals - not an option - and rotate crops, which I do anyway. In the meantime, I will keep an eye on them and pick any soft pods - the peas are nearly finished anyway now.
Today I took the flower heads off the sage and picked some stems for drying, along with some rosemary and lavender flowers. The seed heads in the paper bag next to them are sorrel seeds, an early salad leaf native to Europe, and a very hardy plant so I plan to grow them in the spring. The other bag contains some chamomile seed heads.
Here's today's collection (left to right): raspberries, green gooseberries, red gooseberries, blackcurrants (all finished now), potatoes, peas and strawberries.

The potatoes are the second early, Cosmos and they are monsters! A bit of slug damage on a few, but nothing serious. I'll let these dry out and then pack them in a hessian sack for use later in the year.

No gardening tomorrow due to the wet, again. Did manage to clear one potato bed today to prepare it for the leeks, but so much weeding to do if it ever stops raining...
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