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First Year's Growth

With planting complete, we sat back and waited for the action. I watered once or twice during the first month if there was a dry spell. Within that first month we started to see the first signs of green when peering down the tubes. The Angys were the first to show. Then, of course we had a nasty frost. Next time I looked all the green was turning brown. Ugh! Just as well we had left two or three buds per plant.

By April green re-appeared and most plants seemed to be making an effort to grow. I sprayed for mildew and bugs as a precautionary measure. Once the shoots were six or so inches long I decided they were "safe" and that I would thin out to just one shoot per plant to encourage them to put all their energies into growing tall. This involved one back breaking day detaching the tubes, pulling them out of the ground, thinning the plant, replacing and reattaching the tube. The Phoenix had the most shoots. They had more buds on than the others when they arrived, and although we had removed some they seemed to sprout everywhere. The result was that each shoot was shorter, and they have on average been behind on growth ever since.

I fertilised in May and also replaced the three plants that hadn't grown from the spares we had planted in the vegetable patch. Two hundred and ninety seven out of three hundred seemed to be a pretty good success rate.

Come mid-June and the first plants had made it to the middle wire. Come the end of July and many had made it to the top wire. At that point it was time to prune. I was able to rope in Ali's Uncle and Aunt to help (below) and in a morning we took out all but two laterals at the middle wire and two at the top wire. I doubt that growth now will harden off before winter, but these laterals are where we want next years growth to be.

The three different varieties look quite different close up, as you can see from the pictures. The Angys seem to have been the most susceptible to damage. A couple of plants look very sickly. Ali puts this down to Earwigs which seem to have taken up residence in the leaves, and slugs which have made a big impression on some plants. The damn things seem to climb up the outside of the tubes and start feasting when they get to the top. The Phoenix appear to be untouched by anything and have deep green shiny leaves. The Reichys have huge slightly crinkly leaves but seem fairly free of pests.

The grass between the rows has been mowed every week or two, and I did need to re-spray the rows to keep down the weeds, as I had left it way too late for using a hoe.

So, here is the view at the start of August.

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    © McLeod 2007