It’s nearly time to say goodbye to the garden again as we set sail for the UK and Sarah and Gwyndaf’s wedding. I’ve spent this week getting on top of all the things that need doing before we leave, including weeding the whole patch. Last time I was away, my poor leeks disappeared under a carpet of weeds; this time, I’m hoping they’re big enough to fend for themselves.
Harvesting continues at a crazy rate – more onions, more beans, the first apples – and now the first ripe ‘Bulgarian Orange’ chilli peppers from vegetableseeds.net. They freeze like a dream, I’m picking and popping them into the freezer on a daily basis. They are described as having a mild/medium heat so I had a little nibble to test for myself and found it’s right; the seeds, however, are as hot as hell – I got one by mistake and regretted it for hours!
Squash, courgettes and aubergines have been part of our daily diet for several weeks now; I’m not complaining – we love them – but it was good to see a few fresh faces in the basket this week. The ‘Charlemagne’ carrots are the first of the year, sown in June to avoid the dreaded root fly, of which (touch wood) there is no sign. They are cropping well, with purple and white varieties to follow. The ‘Hurst Greenshaft’ peas were also a late sowing, we’re eating them young and so far, no maggots. The stalks of summer broccoli look rather pathetic but are worth their weight in gold to me, they have had such a struggle to survive – and they were delicious!
The ‘Yard Long’ climbing beans are such strange things, they look like snakes but aren’t bad eating – and we don’t need too many for a meal!
I’ve transplanted the kale despite the hot dry weather as the plants were starting to look very crowded. There are ten each of ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Fizz’ which should be more than enough to see us through the winter as long as I can keep them watered enough to get then safely established.
The patch is full of butterflies, most of them pretty things like this one.
I think it’s a silver washed fritillary but would be happy for an expert to put me right if it’s not.
Unfortunately, too many of the butterflies in the brassicas are white and the caterpillars are a nightmare. Rolande had heard on the radio that a spraying of tomato leaf tea does the trick – much quicker than picking the little blighters off and jumping on them, if not quite as satisfying. Knowing that my tomato plants are bravely fighting back from blight, she brought me a pile of her own leaves to stew in a bucket for several days. I’ve sprayed the lot, just hope it works – the smell alone should be enough to make them them think twice.
Something I’ve discovered thet doesn’t work is growing dill to deter white butterflies. The seed fromvegetableseeds.net has gone really well: the plants have wafted their gripe water scent around the patch for several months and are now forming attractive seed heads. White butterflies are supposed to hate the smell of them but someone obviously hasn’t told the bunch in my garden…oh well, win some, lose some.
My biggest worry about leaving the garden for ten days is water – or a lack of it. It has only rained here three times since 2nd July so we have an official drought, the butts are empty, water restrictions are in place and the garden is desperate. I’m sinking bottles in the tunnel to try and keep everything alive in there, and we will soak the patch with cans before we leave but with temperatures forecast in the thirties again next week and no rain in sight, I’m not sure what we will come back to…will my young salad leaves survive?
In the flower garden, the sunflowers have formed huge seed heads and it’s lovely to watch the great tits tucking in every morning for their breakfast.
While rummaging about on the internet, I read that dried cornflowers make the prettiest natural confetti which is totally environmentally friendly, too. (http://higgledygarden.com) The meadow mix I planted in the patch is full of cornflowers which have flowered for months, they’re a little past their best now but still have plenty of colour so I decided to go for it. I hung several bunches in a warm dark place to dry and ten days later, hey presto!
It really is so pretty, a little bit of my French garden to sprinkle over my lovely daughter and her new husband at their Welsh wedding. Fingers crossed they have a beautiful sunny day – and it rains like crazy for a fortnight here! 🙂