I love the way the native American Indians name the months after seasonal moons. I think that ‘Blossom Moon’ would definitely be a hot contender just now: after the apricot, pear and plum, the apple orchard is in full bloom. I wish I could add a scratch and sniff card here as the scent is amazing, sweet and heady like honeysuckle. They are mainly cider apple trees and we’re hoping for a good harvest to sell to the local cider factory come autumn: get busy, bees!
Back to the serious business of vegetable gardening and it has definitely been a ‘Planting Moon’ in the patch – I don’t seem to have done much else for the last couple of weeks. That said, it’s great to see things growing well, it’s even starting to look like a proper veg garden!
First, the polytunnel. I’ve planted a bed of ‘Long Red Marconi’ peppers and ‘Bulgarian Carrot’ chillies; one each of cucumbers ‘Akito’ and ‘Crystal Lemon’ at the end of the potting bench where I can train them up netting later on; two ‘Winter Butternut’ squash next to the potatoes where they can trail away to their hearts’ content once the spuds are out; and finally, a bed of ‘Black Beauty’ aubergines. Everything bar the aubergines went into fresh ground so I dug in plenty of muck as I know they’re greedy feeders. I’ve edged the lot with French marigolds and tucked some basil plants amongst the tomatoes as companion plants. There’s just one space left for the melons when the temperature starts to rocket.
Outside, we’ve dug a separate bed behind the polytunnel which is very manure- rich. Here I’ve popped in courgettes, more butternut squash and also ‘Sweet Dumpling’, plus cucumbers with sunflowers to climb up. Again, there’s room for a couple of melons later; if we have a sweltering summer like last year, I’m hoping for some sweet and juicy little Charentais to tuck into.
The two ‘Big Max’ pumpkins are sitting like kings on their own private muck heaps. I’ve planted three new lots of seeds, too: swede ‘Best of All’, Florence fennel and chicory’ Witloof Zoom’. I know the last two can be tricky, but they’re very popular out here so I’m hoping they’ll go well – it’s got to be worth a try, surely?
The ‘Charlotte’ potatoes are all through the ground now and among the more recent seed plantings, the chervil, dill, rainbow chard, spinach, ‘Little Gem’ lettuce and asparagus pea are all coming along fine.
However, the Usain Bolt Veg-of-the-Week award has to go to the dwarf French beans ‘Canadian Wonder.’ They literally caused two fault lines in the ground as the plants pushed up and it’s no exaggeration to say we could watch them popping through. We are so used to a disappointing 50% germination rate in our previous garden that I planted plenty and guess what? They’ve ALL germinated (which is why I guess they’re called French beans, not Welsh beans). Anyway, with some careful transplanting when they’re slightly bigger, we should have an extra row and more beans than two people could ever need.
(On which subject, thanks a million to our fantastic family members who are currently booking their summer hols with us – we NEED you and your appetites! :-))
There was me thinking that slugs were going to be my biggest problem – wrong again. Happily, a fair few have met a boozy end swimming in beer but the bigger menaces have been leather jackets (eating the lettuce plants from underneath) and pigeons (scoffing the summer cabbage). I’ve built a temporary willow and net cage over the cabbages, it’s not a thing of beauty but has definitely stopped those thieving little beaks. I’m working on Anti-Pigeon Plan B before the next batch of baby brassicas goes out.
Despite having planted so many things, the potting bench still heaves with plants. Now that I’ve freed up so many pots (no need to drink all that milk now, I can go back to wine…) I’ve been pricking out and potting on all sorts of bits and pieces. I’m chuffed with the basil which is going well, and also the little feathery asparagus ‘Connovers Colossal’ which promises scrumptious things in future years.
For now though, it’s back to the planting… 🙂