Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador. On Twitter as @MatronsVeggies

Sunday, June 06, 2010

It's Springtime for Ladybirds!

It is always preferable in my book to avoid using harmful chemicals in the garden wherever possible. It is inevitable each year that my broad bean tips will be infested with blackfly and it would be tempting to spray. But look closer and see these harlequin ladybirds preparing to take advantage of the easy supply of food. In fact, these male and female ladybirds appear to be getting excited over this abundant supply of food and decided to take advantage of the situation.
Doesn't it make sense to lay your eggs where the ladybird larvae will have an instant meal just half an inch from where they hatch?
So these little critters were 'at it' all day today, wiggling around and enjoying the warm Spring weather.
These yellow eggs are ladybird eggs, and just look how near they are to the blackfly. Isn't nature wonderful?
Meanwhile elsewhere on the plot, my frostbitten tomatoes have grown lots of side shoots and I have decided to experiment with a couple of plants. Above you can see that two new sideshoots grew out of the base pair of leaf axils on this chocolate cherry tomato. I couldn't chose which one to chop off, so I wonder if I support both stems it will grow up as a twin? Has anyone tried this?
Another tomato plant just grew shoots everywhere after the frosting. Although this Ildi tomato is supposed to be trained as a 1 stem cordon tomato, I am growing this one in a hanging basket to see what happens. It's great to experiment.
Elsewhere, do you remember I took side shoots as cuttings? well here they are just a week later already putting down root systems.
I have been brewing my own nettle and comfrey plant food at the end of the garden. This warm weather has ripened it off a treat. The stench is amazing. Just one cupful of this liquid feed in a 2 gallon watering can will be the right dilution for a great liquid tonic!


At 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen an absolute army of ladybirds on my plot recently. I found a few hibernating in late winter and early spring and relocated them to some more suitable accomodation away from where I was weeding and digging so hopefully they'll repay my kindness soon.
I've yet to cause any to blush by witnessing them getting busy yet though.

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That nettle fertilizer has the worst smell in the world. But it’s excellent for plants!

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Kath said...

We've had them here since very early spring but I too haven't observed any hanky-panky. Just not looking when they are in the mood I suppose. Interesting experiments with your tomatoes Matron.

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Liz said...

I love making a comfrey brew for my plot.The stink is quite something though!

At 12:44 PM, Blogger KatieLovesDogs said...

My sister jokingly calls my January seed catalogues, garden porn, but you seem to have the real thing going on ; )

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Insects are quite fair to lay eggs where food is in abundant and within reach. Like flies laying eggs on rotting flesh or meat or fish. Like butterflies laying eggs on a juicy and leafy veggie!! ~ bangchik

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Carrie said...

Oh matron you are naughty taking pictures of ladybirds getting, urm, friendly *blush*
I hate the smell of nettle juice but darn it, it's good stuff! Haven't got comfrey but we're getting some.

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Morning Matron.
Well both those are cordon tomatoes so it is best to take the shoots off, for a better crop.
Some people think they have done well to get toms off a shoot, and of course you will. But its to the detriment of the main plant. They are bred for single stem, so If it were me I would just keep one main stem. Iidi will stop growing to 5 to 6 ft, and has up to 80! toms on a bunch if grown correctly.


At 1:37 PM, Anonymous kitsapFG said...

Go lady beetles! :D

The tomatoes are showing real resilience and I bet the side shoots and cuttings produce nicely for you. Certainly look healthy enough!

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Funkbunny said...

I make chicken poo tea - and that smells pretty awful too!

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Damo said...

Hi Matron, there's loads of ladybirds around at the moment, great photos.


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