Sunday, 17 June 2018

Our allotment: the plot thickens

After a slow start, marred by a late frost, things are coming along nicely.
The courgette plants have been in flower for a couple of weeks and the fruits are looking promising. We have three plants and they should be adequate for our frugal needs.
Three courgette plants should suffice. 16 June, 2018
The potatoes are now in flower too and we'll be applying plenty of water, especially as we have been going through a rather dry spell. We are only growing first earlies but we'll plant another dozen tubers in a week or so. I've put a picture in for the thousands of my readers who have never seen a tater/spud/pratie.
Spuds - what else can I say?
The Phacelias, Phacelia tanacetifolia, are now in full bloom and are attracting large numbers of bees. They have curious, curling inflorescences in the form of a cyme, the whole effect leading to the plant's other common name of fiddleneck.
Phacelia in flower. Bumble bees are constantly visiting the flowers.
16 June, 2018
But the thing I keep and eye open for is insect visitors. Many, such as the bees, are beneficial but pest species are in many ways of more interest. My neighbouring plot holder, Larry, grows asparagus and the crop is currently suffering a mild infestation of Asparagus Beetle, Crioceris asparagi. It is an undeniably attractive beetle, but that fails to melt the hearts of vegetable growers. The specimen shown has but seconds to live.
On death row. An Asparagus Beetle about to given the
coup-de-grace by a neighbour, Larry. 16 June, 201
A number of Cinnabar Moths, Tyria jacobaeae, have been fluttering around over recent days. They don't seem to be having much luck in finding a food plant - groundsel or ragwort - on which to lay their eggs as most plot holders grub up these weeds ruthlessly. This example is forlornly exploring a raspberry leaf. This species must count as a 'gardener's friend'.
Cinnabar, one of the brightly-coloured, day-flying moths.
16 June, 2018
Going by its name of Zygaena filipendulae,  one might assume that the Six-spot Burnet Moth feeds on plant of the Meadowsweet genus, Filipendula, but in fact it consumes Bird's-foot Trefoil, a member of the clover family.

Quite closely related to the Cinnabar moth are the burnets - but which
one is this? 16 June, 2018

Here its larva is climbing the side of a polythene cloche in search of somewhere to pupate. I will not send this record off to the Wildlife Trust as there is just a chance that it is a Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet, Zygaena lonicerae. The larvae are very similar and this is not an area in which I claim any expertise.

Never a dull moment on an allotment!



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