Hot stuff

Yesterday we picked the first of the ‘Sungold’ cherry tomatoes, so sweet and delicious. Summer is very definitely here!

Sweet little Sungold.

I should never have let the polytunnel get away from me (I blame the week we were both away and the plants had free rein) but I’ve being doing a bit of damage limitation to give everything a fighting chance.

Time to tame the jungle…

Why, oh why, was I ever worried about those wretched tomatoes? Never mind removing sideshoots, I’ve had to prune the thugs right back so I can see the fruits and give the peppers some light. After so many years of begging  tender plants to grow in our Welsh polytunnel (with very mixed results), I can’t believe how vigorous everything is – what a difference a few degrees of heat make. They’re all growing so quickly and it’s no surprise: I could only stand five minutes at a time working in there, I’m definitely not cut out to be a jungle dweller.

Now I can see what we’ve got. The ‘Long Red Marconi’ peppers have emerged from the undergrowth.

The ‘Bulgarian Carrot’ chillies are heavy croppers.

These black beauties are doubling in size every day.

Finding this baby Charentais melon made my week – now I know why we moved here!

It’s HOT, HOT, HOT: low to mid-thirties in the day, high teens at night and still no sign of rain. We’ve been very hopeful over the last few evenings when the sky has turned black, lightning flashed and thunder rumbled and yes! it’s rained – all six drops evaporating before they hit the ground. Oh well, back to the watering cans and perhaps some research into rain dances?

Stormy skies but still no rain.

Talking of research, one of the lessons I’ve learnt this year is to spend a bit more time reading before planting. I was so excited with the huge pack of seeds Sarah gave us for Christmas and the prospect of being ‘in charge’ of the patch that I rushed in without spending enough time researching what I was planting. I assumed that ‘Crimson Forest’ onions were red cooking onions and planted them in a seed tray, only to find they were spring onions that should have gone straight into the ground. Whoops. If I’d read up on ‘Yard Long’ climbing beans I’d have realised they needed very special care and would have saved myself a lot of grief. 😦

Miserable things: the ‘Yard Long’ beans have not been a success.

They are going at last (third planting) but aren’t a patch on the climbing borlotti beans which are setting their beautiful fiery pods.

Now these are definitely more my cup of tea.

Then there are the cucumbers – ‘Crystal Lemon’ and ‘Akito’ – which I’ve planted in the tunnel and outside, not realising there’s a difference between indoor and outdoor varieties. We’ve had one ‘Crystal Lemon’ from indoors but now both plants just seem intent on taking over the entire tunnel, producing masses of flowers but no fruit. In the photo you can see the tendrils wrapped round tools I’d only been using the day before – there is a definite touch of the Triffids here, how long before they grab someone going through the door?

I lost two of the outdoor plants to bad weather but have one of each variety left; I’m pleased to report they are behaving very nicely, growing up the sunflowers (which was a bit of an experiment) and setting little fruit.

The outdoor cucs are climbing up the sunflowers…

…and starting to fruit.

Next year, I’ll only grow outdoor varieties outdoors as strangely enough it seems to work. The rest of the curcubit patch is looking good at last, too; we’re eating courgettes every day and the first ‘Sweet Dumpling’ squash has set, it’s a new variety for us so I can’t wait to try it.

After a dodgy start, things are looking more hopeful in the curcubit bed.

Having planted some more ‘Little Gem’ lettuce seeds, I then read that you shouldn’t do it in hot weather as they don’t tend to germinate over 25˚C. Whoops again. Anyway, within three days I had a row of very happy looking seedlings emerging from the dust so I’m not going to believe everything I read.

Heat freaks – ‘Little Gem’ lettuce seedlings.

The ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Fizz’ kale are both through the ground too and the carrots are going great guns.

‘Norfolk Giant’ carrot seedlings.

The flower garden is really suffering from the heat and lack of rain; perennial flowers are dying before they open, the annuals are going straight to seed and even the sunflowers are drooping.

It’s blooming hot in the flower garden.

The grapevine, however, is loving every minute and the leaves are almost big enough to stuff, Greek-style. Yum. That’s what I love about the garden: no matter how tricky things get, there’s always something to make me smile. 🙂


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