So the unusual weather patterns continue requiring continual thinking. We have had some sustained high temperatures 27c plus, periods of heavy rainfall/overcast skies, and now blustery north east winds. The garden is still about 2 -3 weeks behind normal and this has impacted on the planned sowings of late summer/autumn vegetables, flowering combinations as well as flattening large parts of my meadow areas. I will cut the meadow area much earlier this year so the wildflowers are not lost under a mat of grass. The rain hit just as the roses came in to bloom, but they have faired ok so far
Nevertheless, there has been much to enjoy, fantastic salad crops, (lettuce, radish, rocket, spinach, carrot, salad onions and various herbs) which I am eating every day. A bumper crop of broad beans and peas are on the way, the outdoor cucumbers, tomatoes, French beans and squash have taken off so I am hopeful these will succeed. Fennel and spring cabbage are just about to be harvested, but beetroot, one of my favourites have been poor. The tomatoes in the greenhouse look promising having set fruit already. My children have eaten my strawberries and have a keen eye on the blueberries. My thoughts are now turning to autumn and inter vegetables.
I’ve trialled an approach to harvesting lettuce used by Charles Dowding where you pick the outer leaves of lettuces, rather than a whole heart for longer cropping and to prevent bolting, it has worked with prolific crops, and minimal slug damage. Some of this may be down to cooler temperature and rainfall as well but its method I shall continue to use as its ideal for small garden.
The no dig approach continues to work well with good healthy plant growth, good moisture levels in the soil, perceived lower amounts of slugs.
My first foray in using home made comfrey tea as a high potash fertiliser has been successful and the plants seem to really respond to it despite its unfriendly smell. Read more here..
The flower garden has been filling out, with lots of verdant ferns, hostas, geranium, foxgloves and rodegersia. It will start to come in to its own in July and take over form the meadow where there has been an abundance of ox eye daisy.
There have been huge amounts of aphids in the meadow, on the apple trees, roses and clematis. These have been picked off by ladybirds, sparrows, lacewings and rain. Bumblebees have been harvesting the honeydew on the apple tree with enthusiasm a fairly recently reported phenomenon from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. There is a huge population of tadpoles in my two small ponds, baby newts and a lot of frogs out in the evening picking off slugs and flies. One did decide to come in our patio doors though! Our garden has never had too many birds but this year we are seeing a greater range and frequency of visitors. We have also had a lot of damselflies hatch in the garden, primarily the azure, southern and large red damselfly. All in all the ecology of the garden continues to grow which is key to its health.
A few pictures below of sunny and rainy days