Hello Gardening Friends,
For the first time in many years Pembrokeshire is experiencing an actual “Flaming June!” With temperatures exceeding 25°c most days and sticky 18°c nights, it’s been mostly impossible to garden. The water butt has been emptied days ago, and for now we are using our “Grey Water” from washing up, bathing, and showering to water the beds and borders.
The lawn is only green in so far as its full of clover, thistle, dandelion and daisy. The actual grass is brown and crispy. I can’t remember if it was Monty Don or Alan Titchmarsh who said that a perfect lawn wasn’t good in the summer, but you could keep it green with weeds.
This month I am holding my hand up in admittance of being wrong. Or maybe misguided. A while ago I wrote in one of my blogs, that I didn’t agree with garden designers telling us to chose just a few species of plants and grow many of them. However, due to limited capabilities this is what I did this year. I had an abundance of Black Ball Cornflowers that I planted in large clumps all over the front garden, they with our stalwarts of fuschia,margaritas, red hot pokers, azaleas , firestorm And St John Wart shrubs, created a striking scene. Many neighbours stopped and asked what the pretty little burgundy/black flowers were. They also stopped me to ask if my trial Petunias were real or plastic, because the bright pink against the blue bungalow is pretty hard to miss. So although I hate the thought of growing just one type of flower, it does look very effective and the garden designers were right. I haven’t made my mind up if I will just grow a single variety or not in the future, but it has given me pause for thought.
It’s a little difficult to write about the greenhouse this month, because, quite frankly, not a lot is happening in this heat. But here’s a quick run-through.
- I started off Blue Moon and Pink Moon Radishes along with Rainbow Beetroots. They germinated fantastically quick, but the soaring temperatures had me moving them outside to the cold frame then into their final growing spaces within two weeks. I also had the same success with lettuce, mint and wildflower mixes.
- Unfortunately the heat has now stopped all germination and I have lost a lot of the seeds to not being able to keep things moist enough. The compost just kept drying out all the time. The Brussel Sprouts died in the cold-frame and the second batch died in the greenhouse. I will try these again in the autumn. Joseph’s Coat Amaranths thrived in the heat, with seedlings appearing in less than three days. I’ve sowed them in batches, so I have many of them in various states of growth to prolong the season. I love their patterned leaves.
- Marigold Strawberry Blonde was a huge success too. I marvel at how they change colour as they mature. I will definitely buy these again. Strangely the African Marigolds that were supposed to be in citrus colours are a burgundy red, so the two complement each other. The African ones were not a T&M product and to be honest I am not someone who complains to companies who give out the wrong seeds in the packets, because a) they may have been a more expensive seed b) it worked out well with my colour theme and c) life is too short to complain!
- The Eating and Sweet peas have been sown, grown and left to scramble up obelisks outside.
- The purple carrots and yellow courgettes are outside but I fear if we have a water ban then the veg won’t form. Although there are fruits just forming on the courgettes.
- We have had,and are planning more trips in the motorhome this summer, so for now The Office is just ticking over. I’ll sow more when the weather is cooler, maybe at the end of July. Perhaps it will still be too warm until September and then I will have even less to write about during the summer!
- Perhaps the biggest surprise for me in The Office is I somehow managed to grow a wildlife border in between the aloes, money tree, cactus and violas. The strappy-leaved houseplants died in the intensive 40° heat so cornflowers, corncockle, veronica, marigold and poppies filled the gaps, along with some amaranths. I’m thinking the wildlife border happened by me either emptying dried out compost pots in the border, or from the nerve damage in my fingers and accidentally dropping seed packets or pots I’d just sown with fresh seeds. Either way, I’m happy with the results.
In Ty Mawr.
- I nearly lost the crops as I couldn’t find any shading paint. I am pretty sure the only reason that the fruit and veg survived is because the English marigolds were so big they provided them with shade.
- The tomatoes took a really long time to get growing. We tried tomato feed granules, more water, less water, newer compost, but in the end it was leaving the windows open at night that triggered the regrowth. In regards to them, I am trialling two sets of Ferlines, one that has had a natural coating put on the seeds and one without. The one with is in the lead with fruits and flowers forming. I am then comparing these to Yellow Stuffer in terms of colour versus colour. Yellows are taller with fruit just forming, but reds are more prolific.
- We harvested the garlic, and the onions are not far off. The Rainbow Beetroots are almost ready. The Italian White ones love the heat.
- The Orange sweet peppers currently have leaf curl, I’m not sure if they will make it. The sweet peppers I grew from Lidl Snack peppers I ate are really strong. I hope I get some fruits soon though.
- With my aubergine trial the T&M aubergine is tiny and seems to stop growing once it’s put in its final,position – same as last year. The same mix from Lidl Shop bought seeds are doing a lot better. Triple in size. The other third company seed, (but a different variety) are also doing okay. None however have any flowers yet.
- The Chilli Fire Bucket got full so we split the plants. Three are in the border near the tomatoes and the slugs have had a go at them. Although the slugs were dead after, I feel sorry for the slugs as when I was transplanting the chillies the leaves made my fingers sting. The chillies in the border are slower than the fire bucket which has fruits forming.
- The slugs ate my other Amaranthus Oesburgh and the Nicotianas. The marigolds kept all the pests away from the crops. Plenty of aphids and caterpillars made their home there in the borders of Ty Mawr but the resident blackbirds usually keep the numbers down.
- The most successful crop to date is the Cape Gooseberries. They are romping away, and as they climb they form discreet flowers, then the fruits almost like magic appear. I cannot wait for these to ripen, they look delicious.
- The hanging shelves are empty as the elevated position in direct sunlight is far too hot. I did think about growing pots of cactus but I don’t really know if this is a good idea as I have an aloe vera overload as it is!
- Dad’s spider plant is looking lush. It sits on the path of Ty Mawr. It survived the brutal cutting back and cold snows earlier in the year.
One final thing before I sign off, Mark and I went over to my brother’s house and both Mark and my brother finally to erect his greenhouse. I spent a happy few hours with my nieces teaching them to grow their own foods. I gave them aubergines, sweet peppers, mint,strawberries and radish. Mum came over later on in the and gave them tomato plants.
My other brother has taken on an allotment and his wife has opened a baguette shop in the City of St Davids using local produce. More excitingly they are going to be opening another local business soon, in a well-known tourist hotspot in St Davids!
Mum has redesigned her back garden and I gave her my sail shade as we can’t use it in our garden, I won it in a gardening competition ages ago.
The only redesigning I have done in our garden is buy a hammock and plonked it on the back lawn to watch the sun setting! It’s the best £30 I’ve spent this year.
Since what’s happened to me in the last few years, we have all decided to follow our dreams. I was hoping to return to work, though sadly it’s not possible. So for this year my mission is to encourage the family in their pursuits and to spend more time in my garden relaxing in my hammock.
My name is Amanda and I live in Pembrokeshire with my fiancé and our garden is approximately 116 meters square. I want to share with you my love for gardening and the reasons behind it, from the good to the bad and ugly. I want to do this for my own personal pleasure. If you would like to take the journey with me then please read my blogs and share with me your gardening stories.