Tag Archives: postaweek2012

Is This Blight?

My tomatoes had blight last month so I’m now wondering if my cabbage and brocoli could also be affected?

I’ve been away for a few days and left Mr. Piglet in charge of my veggies. I was quite surprised when I returned to see brown and white patches on the cabbage and brocoli leaves. He had sprayed the leaves with diluted washing up liquid to kill the caterpillars…perhaps that’s the cause…

Anyone heard of Cabbage blight? Looked on net and can’t really see much info. All suggestions gratefully received.

In the meantime think I will pick all the affected leaves off and see what happens.

My brocoli leaves look like they may have blight
My brocolli leaves look like they may have blight
Any idea what this is?
Any idea what this is?

Growing Fruit and Vegetables – September

August merged seamlessly into September, the drought continued and the bugs, despite my best efforts continued to thrive and multiply.

The latest visitor to take up residence bored its way into several of the tomatoes, growing in pots. Once discovered I quickly disposed of these (that’s the tomatoes not the pots) and then wished I’d cut open one of the tomatoes to discover who had moved in. I’m still none the wiser as to their identity – any clues please?

An insect bored into my tomatoes!
An insect bored into my tomatoes!

Read more about my successes and failures over at Piglet in Portugal

How to Propagate Hibiscus in 10 Easy Steps

Hibiscus are my favourite plants (shrubs) because they are SO easy to grow and reward me with an abundance of beautiful flowers throughout the year.

Red Hibiscus
Red Hibiscus

I began experimenting as to the best method of propagating hibiscus from cuttings a couple of years ago when the cost of buying plants in Portugal rose significantly. I’m talking about a 100% rise, so a great incentive to master the technique!

There are several different methods used to propagate shrubby plants, but this one consistently works for me.

How to to propagate Hibiscus

1. Take green cuttings (new growth) of about six inches long from the parent plant and remove all but a couple of the smaller leaves.

2. Immerse cutting into the hormone powder or gel so once planted the “treated” area is higher than the planting depth. There should be at least one growth node under the soil.

Hibiscus cuttings
Hibiscus cuttings

3. Fill suitable plastic plant pot with damp sandy soil and press down firmly.

4. Make small hole for each cutting – about a couple of inches deep (I use a small stick). Insert the cutting so at least one of the nodes are under the soil. Firm the soil around the cutting.

Cover Hibiscus cuttings with platic cover
Cover Hibiscus cuttings with plastic cover

5. Create a humid environment for the cuttings by adding a plastic cover. Some people use a plastic bag – I use half a plastic bottle.

6. Stand the pot in a tray of water so the soil remains damp, but be careful not too wet. If the soil should become waterlogged I remove from pot from water tray to restore the balance. I usually only follow this process for about a six weeks. If the cuttings are “happy” in the environment you have created the leaves on the hibiscus cutting should still look green and healthy. If the rooting process is not working and the leaves are brown and shrivelled, discard and start the process again.

7. Move pot to a sheltered location out of direct sunlight. I find dappled shade is best.

8. Once the cuttings are established and new leaves begin to grow I remove the plastic cover so the young plants adapt.

9. After about a six months, sometimes more, depending on how quickly the cuttings grow, repot cuttings to individual pots using good quality compost and you will have several young plants ready to pot on.

Hibiscus cuttings one year later
Hibiscus cuttings one year later

10. Hey presto! This healthy plant is just one of three I grew using the above method.

I grow my mature hibiscus plants in containers close to the house to shelter them from the destructive salt winds. This was originally a temporary measure to protect them while hardier plants and shrubs matured. However, I have been so pleased with the results the hibiscus have remained in the original containers where they were planted six years ago. Hibiscus are normally planted in the ground here, and the shrubs easily grow to over six feet tall.

Their versatility has surprised me as they grow well in either sun or shade. And, providing you keep them well watered, fed and pruned they are very easy to grow – certainly far easier than vegetables!

My Tomatoes Have Blossom End Rot

Blossom End Rot
Blossom End Rot

Over the last few days I’ve been so absorbed in other gardening projects that I shamefully admit I neglected to watch over all the tomato plants growing in containers.

You can imagine my concern when I noticed that the end of some of the tomatoes, grown in one particular container, looked sort of flat. Curious, I went over to investigate and to my horror the end of the tomatoes were black and moldy.

My tomatoes have blossom end rot
My tomatoes have blossom end rot

I immediately consulted Mr Google…

Garden Web advised…

This is not a pest, parasite or disease process but is a physiological problem caused by a low-level of calcium in the fruit itself.

Further investigation, on a variety of other gardening websites, revealed that blossom end rot is a common problem with container grown tomato plants because if watering is not consistent and the tomato plants are allowed to dry out they are then unable to absorb the calcium in the soil.

OK, Piglet is guilty as charged and the loss of about eight tomatoes due to blossom end rot is entirely down to neglect!

Lucky, because with a bumper crop of tomatoes in other pots I was beginning to panic I was about to lose my entire crop due to a nasty disease!

Mr Tomato King  also advised

Too much nitrogen in the soil can also cause rot. In this case, a handful of lime around the base of each plant might help. It is important to cut back on your fertilising or switch to a brand that has a low nitrogen and high phosphorous to high potassium ratio. Standard tomato feeds are usually high potassium.

I then went on to read if I over water my tomato plants I could end up with “Splitting Fruit”.

I also read somewhere about using Epsom Salts – anyone tried this?

Another lesson learned!!!

Sometimes I feel gardening is almost like rubbing your tummy while patting your head at the same time!

There is never a dull moment here at Piglet’s plot!

What other common or not so common pests and diseases should I be aware of?

Piglet’s Plot

Gardening is my passion and every day I discover something new.

Gazania in Portugal
Gazania in Portugal

As a novice gardener with a tenacious spirit and a heap of enthusiasm I follow my passion with an element of frustration and humour. I laugh, rant or cry at my failures and celebrate my many successes with a whoop as I jump for joy! (I’m easily pleased) Of course, gardening in a foreign country when you do not speak the language adds a whole new dimension to the gardening challenge.

My urban garden is compact and manageable – just as well I don’t have acres of land to manage as it can be very hot here! However, if I did have acres of land I could keep pigs and chickens which I adore, so life is about compromise.

I grow (attempt to grow): fruit and vegetables, herbs, cacti and succulents, flowering shrubs and perhaps the biggest challenge – container gardening.

Despite my ongoing battle to dissuade the bugs that my humble plot is not a Michelin star restaurant I now endeavour not to use pesticides. So if you have any natural remedies you can recommend please share!

Visitors to “PiP’s” gourmet garden restaurant

Turn up the sound and listen to the poem I dedicated to some of the bugs that taunt me!

The Ugly Bug Spring Jive
by PiP

With the Herald of Spring the bugs start to arrive
in my Garden of Eden for the “Ugly Bug Jive”.

The weird and the ugly they give me the jitters
who may I ask invented these critters?

There are black bugs and green bugs and stripey ones too
perhaps they’ve escaped from the Ugly Bug zoo?.

Grass hoppers and spiders arrive at my door
the Jive’s in full swing so they take to the floor.

The Ugly Bug Jive is now the “In” thing
and a great way to cheer, the arrival of Spring.

The birds, snakes and lizards come looking for lunch
The “Ugly Bug” guests look an appetising bunch…


Gobble gobble!

What's on the menu today?
What's on the menu today?

Battling against the language barrier, uncertainty of what to plant when, humongous insects and a variety of diseases, cruel salt winds and high humidity my little plot in paradise at times presents quite a challenge.

Piglet’s Plot is a diary of my gardening “ups” and “downs”, tips and ideas based on personal experience.