We’ve had rain this week – lots of it. Bad news for all the local outdoor festivities taking place over the holiday weekend but great news for gardens. Our water butts are full to the brim and the ground has had a thorough soaking.
When the sun breaks through it’s incredibly hot and the garden steams like a Lord Of The Rings landscape: the plants are loving it. (So are the weeds 😦 – hoe, hoe, hoe!)
I promised Sam and Adrienne a photo of the ‘Charlotte’ potatoes they planted in April. Well done, you two – it looks like all that grubbing about in mud was worth it. Good luck with the exams, we’ll save you some spuds!
There have been many times over the last few months when I doubted we would ever be able to say these words, but here they are: we’ve FINISHED DIGGING!
(Okay, ignore the strip of ground still covered with polythene and lino; that’s next year’s little digfest in waiting.) Neither of us minds digging, it’s good exercise and a satisfying job but it has been a bit demoralising when every forkful looked like this:
I’d be happy never to see another couch grass root in my life. Dream on…
The good news is that I can see now that there is plenty of room for everything I want to grow this year. In fact, I’ve already planted a small patch as a seed bed for some perennial herbs and flowers and I’m planning to cadge a bit more next month to start some biennials off. The next batch of brassicas – cauliflower ‘All The Year Round’, broccoli ‘Green Winter Calabrese’ and Brussels sprouts ‘Evesham Special’ and ‘Red Bull’ – had outgrown their seed tray so they’ve gone out.
They’re a bit small but perfectly formed and seem happy enough outside; the summer cabbages have outgrown my pigeon net arrangement so it’s on standby in case these babies need it.
I’ve transplanted a few dill seedlings to make another protective ‘anti-cabbage white butterfly’ fence and I’ve stuffed in lots of French marigolds. There are plenty of brassicas following on to fill the bed: purple sprouting broccoli, romanesco and cabbage ‘Kalibos’ seedlings are doing well in the tunnel and I’ve just started off a tray of winter cabbages ‘Red Drumhead’ and ‘Christmas Drumhead.’ Fingers crossed (birds, beasts and bugs permitting), we should be fine for greens this year.
I’ve planted three melon plants in the tunnel and transplanted the overcrowded French beans and ‘Little Gem’ lettuce outside.
It’s been a week of happy finds to make me smile. Asparagus pea seedlings (they’re so pretty),
flowers forming on the broad beans and sweet peas,
a decent little picking of strawberries coming along by the front door
and fruits setting on our mystery currant.
Not-so-happy finds? Aphids on the tomatoes and basil, something chomping the onions and way too many leather jackets – nasty little beasties. 😦
The last patch we dug (in front of the spuds) is earmarked for leeks. Mmm, my leeks: I’m beginning to wonder if there might be a bit of a nationality identity crisis thing going on here? It seems strange that the French beans (I know they’re South American really but please indulge me on this one), French garlic and French potatoes are all kicking away merrily like a troupe of can-can dancers while the leeks – which always grew fantastically well in Wales – appear to be sulking in their seed tray, doing very little.
Are they homesick? Are they shy? I’m giving them a few more days in the tunnel to snap out of it, then they’re going into the ground, small or not. Yes, it’s time for some tough love. They are one of my all-time favourite veg so the thought of a winter without them is just too depressing. I’m hoping that once they hit the ground they’ll perk up; if not, I’ll have to sneak out and give them a couple of verses of ‘Sosban Fach’ when the garlic’s not listening.
Sticking with a Welsh theme, a quick peep at the flower garden to finish. It’s still not as full as I like, but the annuals are slowly filling the gaps and there is plenty of colour from the perennials. I’m already planning to include some colourful veg next year – rainbow chard, climbing borlotti beans, etc – to blur the boundaries a bit. When we dug the pointy rock out from behind the house (we have more rock than Blackpool here) it reminded me of a standing stone so I decided to plant it round with Welsh poppies as a nod to our British roots; unlike the leeks, the poppies seem very happy to be in France! 🙂