Hello, it’s been a long time since I had the time to sit down and let you know how the garden has been progressing through August.
We have been harvesting everyday in the vegetable patch. I can’t remember a year where we have had such a good potato crop, both early and main crops have grown very well and to date no blight. Carrots are abundant and no carrot fly, they have been well protected behind insect mesh along with our lovely crop of brassicas. We have managed to keep the dreaded white butterflies and local wood pigeons off with netting.
Runner beans are all in the freezer as are the surplus Victoria Plums and we are busy cooking and freezing the cooking apples to see us through the year.
The tomatoes have proved very abundant and all varieties have ripened well. They are being skinned and frozen in readiness for pasta sauce using all home grown garlic, basil and onions. This is then bottled for use throughout the year.
In the flower garden the baskets tubs and bedding are all full of colour. The large hardy fuchsia that has been in the garden for twenty years has been completely de-foliated by the biggest caterpillars of the beautiful Elephant Hawk Moth. Not a problem for the plant and a big boost for the moths.
Everyday there is something else to pick, cook and preserve. If Gooseberries are your thing this year’s harvest has given you something to shout about. So many in the freezer, given away and eaten it has to be a record year.
That goes for all the harvest of the other soft fruits we shall be eating blueberries for months, no hardship as they are my favourite along with cherries.
Despite my best efforts at netting the tree a dear little squirrel has managed to get inside and eat all the flesh just leaving the stalk and stones hanging there. Tell tale teeth marks on the stones!
While I was away my husband kept everything watered and was giving veg boxes to neighbours and family. I don’t think they want any more courgettes for a while. Growing both yellow Parador and green Defender at least makes the dish look a bit different. While away I was eating a Cretan dish made with potatoes, courgettes and cheese which I shall attempt this week as my vegetarian granddaughter is with us for the school holidays.
All the shallots are now dried off and stored, have hung them and the garlic in the nets that covered the garden ready plants from Thompson and Morgan this year. Anyone else found a use for them?
The rain has boosted the growth on the squashes and carrots and the cabbages look spectacular. I am continuing to sow lettuce and spring onions and radish to go with the bumper crop of tomatoes and cucumbers we are getting.
The flower garden took a bit of a battering again with the heavy rain but a bit of prudent trimming and dead heading has brought it back round.
At long last all the hours of weeding, digging ,sowing and watering are paying off.
The Broad beans Aquadulce Claudia sown in the autumn have produced a good crop all now safely in the freezer. We have only just finished last years. The space left by them will accommodate the French beans which I always leave sowing until later.
The first root of new potatoes Rocket was dug today, enough for two meals easily and cooked with fresh mint, delicious.
The autumn planted garlic has been lifted and is now under the covered area drying and we will have plenty to keep us going until next spring. This empty space will be ideal for another sowing of lettuce and spring onions. We have been eating lots radish Bacchus, if you like your radish with a strong hot taste then this is the one for you and it grows very quickly.
In the greenhouse the tomato plants, cucumbers and peppers are all doing very well and I am now feeding once a week to increase the yield. I am still taking out the side shoots from the tomatoes. I accidentally knocked the growing tip off one of the plants so I am allowing the side shoot near the top to take over and it will continue to grow and produce flowers.
The fruit cage is bursting at the seams now all the currants, strawberries and summer raspberries are ripening and we have had the first pick to eat at breakfast. Rhubarb crumble was on the menu the other evening and there is still plenty more to come for a few weeks for us and for the freezer.
I love this time when the fruits of your planning and labour come good and nothing can quite beat the taste or satisfaction of home grown produce.
I shall be away on holiday for a while leaving my husband in charge of the watering and harvest while I enjoy some Greek sunshine.
After several weeks without any significant rain last night we had 21mm enough to create puddles and fill all the water tanks. The potatoes have visibly grown during the day and everything looks green and healthy.
The spring onion White Lisbon and the Radish Bacchus only sown 6 days ago are up as are the Little Gem lettuce and the Lollo Rosso. We’re looking forward already to fresh salad from the garden.
I have sown the first Parsnip Tender and True; this seems to do very well here and overwinters nicely in the ground. I shall do another row in a couple of weeks. The cabbage Hispi and Red Jewel and beetroot Boltardy seeds sowed in cells will be ready to go out in about a week, then I shall do a second sowing of them as well. The runner beans are out as they were growing very quickly, the second sowing will go out a in a few weeks to stagger the crop a little.
The spring garden is all finished and everything is growing very fast now for the summer. Bearded iris, Peony, Alliums and Perennial wallflowers are all colouring up. Soon it will be planting out for the bedding and tubs. Have bought some colourful pots today and will fill them with Garden Ready plants as I do not have enough greenhouse space to grow on small plugs. The pots are destined for decorating a wedding venue in August so I have got to get that right!
The tomato plants in the conservatory have started to produce their first flowers so it is time to move them into their growing space. I use re- useable Tomato growing bags and fill them with good quality compost mixed with some home grown compost, I like them because they give plenty of depth to plant deeply. This encourages the plants to put down extra roots which in turn makes for a stronger more productive plant. I also use collars around each plant this acts as a reservoir when you water and allows the water to seep into the bag slowly. I can fit 12 plants in the greenhouse and then have pots outside with about five more plants including my favourite bush tomato Red Alert.
The cucumbers, squash and courgettes have all germinated over the last week. I use large yoghurt pots for sowing in; this gives them plenty of depth to get a good root system going. They can stay indoors for a bit longer, until at least the end of May when we can be sure there will not be hard frost.
Having covered the potatoes last week because of the expected cold spell, they needed uncovering today, plenty of new growth so I shall be out there tomorrow ‘earthing up’. There was a little frost damage on a few of the leaves but nothing serious.
We are eating fresh asparagus almost every day, if you have the patience to wait for two years it is a very rewarding crop to grow. A little weeding feeding and mulching in the winter and it will be growing for the next 15- years.
The flower beds are looking lovely, the Perennial Wallflowers with the Forget me Nots are one of my favourite sights. Two years ago I started off a Wisteria to grow into a free standing tree. It has flowered this year for the first time and looks a picture. When it has reached a respectable size I shall transfer it to the garden, maybe near the replacement pond we are constructing but that is another story……