4 Aug 2016

Rain stopped play (again)



Is it summer - or have I missed it?  The school holidays, which will always equate with summer in my mind, have just begun and yet it feels as though the garden is almost at its autumn crescendo. Flowers are starting to fade and yet veg (beans, courgettes, broccoli, beetroot) are just getting going - admittedly, that one is down to me sowing late.  I have only a few precious hours each week to spend in my garden and the roller coaster weather has not been conducive to gardening when time allows.

However, last Monday I found myself with an unexpected day off, a day to myself that I immediately earmarked for gardening. It was the best possible way to start the week - I wish every week could be like that!  With one eye on the weather (rain forecast for mid-afternoon),  I had firm intentions of potting up some seedlings and planting out a few pots intended to fill gaps left by summer plants having done their thing.

At least that was the original plan. As soon as I got into the garden I noticed plants needing deadheading (geums, calendula, leucanthemum, centaurea, sweet peas), plants needing bringing under control (nasturtiums, oregano, horseradish) and plants needing tying in (asparagus ferns, more calendula, scabious). This is the garden tidying that I usually do in early September, if memory serves. The overall look of the garden is currently at the forefront of my thoughts as I rashly entered into Camden in Bloom again a couple of weeks ago. There was one evening when the garden was looking awesomely lovely and I rushed to get an application form in. Naturally, it's all gone to pot since. There's no news yet as to who might have been shortlisted but, if I get through again, I'm considering telling the panel not to bother coming over.

~ the garden looking quite spanking a few weeks ago, ie before my Camden in Bloom application ~


As I was on a roll with my garden tidying, I also had a go at the raspberries. So far, it's not looking like a brilliant year for raspberries (historically, I pick regularly from early July, even though they're autumn raspberries) so I decided to cut out the weak spindly stems, water and mulch. Leaves on some canes were yellowing -  possibly inter-veinal chlorosis (a sign of magnesium deficiency in older leaves) or possibly due to the soil having become baked dry (clay soil) or even lack of water in this stop/start summer we're having.  I'd read that raspberries like a slightly acid soil and I had a bag of Dalefoot Ericaceous Compost in reserve so plonked a bit of that around the canes and let the forecast rain water it in.

It's incredible how much can be achieved with a deadline (rain showers) looming. In the end, though, I didn't get any planting out done but managed to get a several bags of green waste to the recycling centre before the rain started and afterwards returned to send a host of snails flying over the railway fence as they celebrated the damp weather by making a beeline for my plants.  All in all a very satisfying day.

And, for the record, here's where I'm at with the food growing in early August:


Cobra bean flower (no beans yet but plants climbing vigorously), 
Raspberries (only the tiniest handful of raspberries so far)
Beetroot (looking quite promising)
Redcurrants (three tiny strings that the birds missed. Strike one to me!)


There's also achocha, chard, broccoli, radishes, baby kales and, hopefully at some point soon, tomatoes and spinach.

The weather's cheered up slightly since Tuesday's downpours so, in hindsight, maybe this summer isn't so bad after all!  How's everyone else feel about this summer?  Just about on target or lagging behind?  Things seem to be different all over the country!


14 comments:

  1. It's so satisfying getting a good few hours in but don't you find you need to be at it on that scale three times a week? I never am so my plot is currently very weedy and there's an urgent need to dead-head calendulas. But it's been a very productive season no doubt helped by rain. I'm now desperately trying to get stuff in to fill the empty gap January till May.

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    1. I'd love the luxury of spending three full days a week in the garden, Sue! At least with the garden here at the flats I can do a bit of weeding as I stroll by, even if I can't stop for long. Usually though it's a question of trying to squeeze a bit of time in the evenings, in between work and making supper. I'm also thinking of the hungry gap - looks like that will be kale, chard, broccoli and, hopefully, spinach this year.

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  2. I must say I loved the rains, especially yesterday. Saved me from watering and it was an excuse to stay indoors instead :)

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    1. I'll never complain about a downpour of rain, especially in the summer months! It's just a funny old summer with grey skies, temperatures all over the place and sporadic days of humidity and heat. Even with British weather, this level of uncertainty is surely unprecedented!

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  3. Tuesday's rain was as forecast and most welcome. You've certainly been busy,and the garden was looking good which is typical for this time for year.
    With it being the wettest April to June on record, as well as being as being the second dullest it's not surprising that things are late.
    happy gardening. Flighty xx

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    1. I'm wondering if warm and wet is the weather that we should expect in future; it certainly feels very up and down to me - yesterday very hot, today very windy. It certainly doesn't make for easy gardening!

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  4. Well I'm having a good tomato year for once. Although maybe I shouldn't speak too soon... I packed them in very closely this year and cut almost all of the foliage off to let the light in and it's worked out okay. I shall have to take a photo and post it soon. Down at the allotment it's a hideous nightmare of weeds. I'm trying not to think about it. My raspberries aren't doing brilliantly, year after year. I wonder if they should be replaced. I have bean plants but almost no beans. Where are they??? The achochas are scrambling around and fruits are forming. I lost almost all of my cucumber plants in bad weather and had almost no French beans germinate. The beetroot got overwhelmed by weeds and haven't recovered. The first batch of sugar snap peas did okay. Next batch not good at all. I had to sow carrots three times, but there are quite a few now. It's a mixed year. I do have courgettes though! CJ xx

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    1. Oh well done on the tomatoes, CJ! I'm waiting for mine to ripen (or indeed set fruit on some of the plants). Raspberries are a conundrum: some people consider them maintenance free and have fruit on the same canes for over two decades yet others tell a different story. The autumn bliss raspberries at the plot are huge and delicious, mine here were small and tasteless - and I honestly have no idea why! I've been very good at keeping weeds at bay this year (probably at the expense of having time to sow seeds!). Great that you've got carrots now, that's another crop I didn't get round to sowing ... :( Cxx

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  5. I dug up, tidied up, split up,and replanted our Joan J raspberries this year so don't expect to have many autumn raspberries this year. Sometimes memory plays tricks as I often find out when looking back at previous year's photos.

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    1. I dug up and got rid of my disappointing Autumn Bliss raspberries earlier this year, Sue - believing that I could rely on the Polka raspberries. It's good to know how easy it is to split and replant raspberries and I may well do that with the Polkas this winter.

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  6. It's been a mixed bag. On the plus side sweetcorn is doing well and the outside tomatoes (touch wood) have so far escaped blight. A miracle really given how much rain we've had. And I've got two melons! But not good elsewhere. The veg garden has never really recovered from cold Spring/injured gardener/rabbits and I've pretty well given up with it for this year. The raised beds have been converted into nursery beds to hold ornamental plants newly purchased or moved and awaiting permanent positions. With irrigation available it's saving me much watering and that can't be bad!

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    1. Wow, amazing that you've grown melons! I tried that once and it was an epic fail; greenhouse needed, I suspect. So disappointing that you've given up on your veg garden for this year but I totally get using the space for plant storage - for some reason it takes me ages to get round to planting things out! We can only hope for a better spring next year - or do we need to adapt our garden practice to suit the weather I wonder?

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  7. I think the garden is looking more autumnal than usual, we've had rowan berries for months and so many flowers have gone over early. We've had hardly any rain and my hose pipe sprang a leak so I've more or less given up....I do hope you get shortlisted, you can always do a quick fix!xxx

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    1. I agree, Dina. Walking on the heath last week, I noticed that the hawthorn bushes are covered in berries, sloes and bullaces are already turning purple and the blackberries are ripening on the plots. I've been caught on the hop as summer flowers are finishing and I don't have enough autumn flowers to take over - a quick fix is definitely on the cards! Watering is an issue here as well, rain or no rain, so I'm focussing on the plants that need it most: beans, courgettes and beetroot. Cxx

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