4 Jun 2018

And so into June


It's two steps forward and one back as we head into June in the veg patch gardens.  Last week my area of London saw thunderstorms most evenings with some very dramatic forked lightning. One evening a huge dark cloud with sheet lightning flickering across it loomed in an otherwise clear sky - very ominous, I can tell you!  These storms were usually followed by torrential downpours and, oh, how the slugs loved it.


A row of peas has been felled by their slimy advances but, strangely, the adjacent mangetout have only been nibbled.  I'm counting my blessings, such as they are. Another row of snap peas sown straight into the soil seems to be okay so far - stronger plants, do you think? - but I think it might be time to investigate the purchase of some netting and hoops because if the slugs don't get them, the pigeons will. It's so frustrating to see pea flowers forming one day, only to have them disappear overnight. I'm poised to plant out trays of kale, salad leaves and squashes - I know I have to take the plunge soon but it will be with bated breath, and one hand reaching for organic slug pellets. I've always stuck to being an organic gardener without resorting to chemical deterrents but, with the late start to the growing season this year, I'm going for damage limitation with Neudorff's Sluggo Snail and Slug Killer; it's approved by the Organic Farmers and Growers Association, is allegedly safe for animals and biodegrades into trace minerals found naturally in the soil. After eating the pellets, slugs go back into their hidey holes to die so birds can't eat them. Does it work? I'll be writing more about this when I know more.


~ these radish leaves are about 6 inches high - that's one huge seed leaf in the foreground! ~

Aren't radishes supposed to grow really quickly? In mid-April I sowed some pink and purple radishes from a Thompson and Morgan packet that I think came as a freebie last year. They germinated quickly and are growing well - if the leaves are pushed out of the way, you can see which colour the radishes will be.  I've not grown these before so have no idea what these will be like; they were sown as a gap filler.  Hopefully the roots will start to plump up soon - I can't wait to see what they're like sliced as the colour is supposed to permeate through the root - pretty!  In the same bed, the oca continues to leaf up nicely and a row of salad onions sown on 1st April has finally appeared. All that rain has done some good.


Also I'm really pleased to see sweet corn leaves popping up. I sowed two seeds at each point so if they both survive I'll have to thin one out. Lack of space dictates that I can't grow too many but I should have ten sweet corn plants if all goes well. Swift did quite well for me last year, although it wasn't that 'swift'! And I found that sowing direct gave me stronger and better plants than starting the plants off indoors.



Some lucky growers are already showing off their first broad beans on Instagram - autumn sown, I should think.  I'm trying a bean from Sarah Raven called 'Stereo' this year; it's been bred to have good flavour and thin skins on the bean itself so no need to skin them. That's always a fiddly job so hopefully that claim will be true.  My beans were sown into modules in early February then planted out in March and are just beginning to pod up on the lower rungs.  several of the plants have been hit by those nasty black aphids so I need to squish/squirt them off and pinch out the top leaves.  They won't be wasted though as they're delicious steamed (leaves, not aphids)!



It looks like I'll get a good crop from these strawberries this year so it's time to break out the bag of Strulch.  I used it under the strawberries last year and it worked well in keeping the fruit clean and pest free. It's just one weapon in my anti-slug/snail armoury, wool pellets being another.   My first ripened strawberry had been half-eaten by the time I spotted it so it went straight into the compost bin - I've been warned!

The bad news is that, once again, there are no plums. I can't see a single fruitlet still on the tree and the leaves have all curled in on themselves.  Same old, same old. I really will be rethinking the fruit tree situation this autumn - I can't see the point of having a unproductive fruit tree where I could fill the space with an espaliered pear or apple.  Or having a sour cherry tree where I'd prefer sweet cherries.

The good news is that I counted about twenty little quinces that look like they'll see the season through; that would make me one very contented gardener.



~ Erigeron from one tiny plant ... hoping it will spread far and wide! ~


Lastly ... flaars! The garden is a kaleidoscope of colours right now. In the washing line border, Edith the iris has been and gone (so fleeting!) and the alliums are nearly over but that's okay because the lavender has started to flower, and nearby Erigeron looks amazing. Even tiny succulents are having their floral moment in that border.


~ Edith, Bee-yon-sage, Foxglove, sprawling ox-eye daisies ~
Among the veg, ox-eye daisies are a magnet for bees, hoverflies and all sorts of insects that I can't identify; it's a pity they've flopped, it looks like a cat has sat in the middle of them.


Red poppies are blooming next to fuchsia pink blackcurrant sage, Geum 'Totally Tangerine' has never had so many flowers and, I think, looks amazing next to Erysimum Bowles' Mauve and Angelica. Too brash? Just wait until the nasturtiums, verbena and achillea start flowering! Sage, chive, comfrey flowers and foxgloves are also keeping the bees happy - bumbles, honeybees, carder and solitary bees are all visitors.  There are no peonies yet but the buds are about to burst so, any day now ...  Looks like there will only be two blooms on this second year peony so they won't be picked but it's still pretty exciting!

I hope that gardens everywhere are flourishing with recent warm weather.  I'm going to try and catch up with reading other blogs over the next few days - it's a massive juggling act to fit everything in but so easy to get behind and forgotten!


13 comments:

  1. We just had slight dampening but it still brought out the slugs in a feeding frenzy to annilihate my annual flower seeding, as for plums the wood pigeons are stripping the trees of out fruits. Is the leaf curling caused by plum leaf curling aphids? Ours used to be sttavked every year at about this time until we started using a winter wash.

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    1. It's a nerve wracking time for gardeners, Sue - I've tried to grow extra of everything, just in case. Have you resorted to slug pellets yet? I wonder if pigeons/wood pigeons are the culprits in my garden ... although the cherry trees are still full of fruit. I think I'll have to investigate a winter wash for the plum trees as this year they definitely set fruit. So frustrating!!

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    2. I’m afraid so but only under cover.

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    3. I've been trialling Sluggo slug pellets from Neudorff, Sue. They're said to be safe to use around food, animals and children. Also the slugs and snails return to their underground homes once the pellet has been ingested so birds have very little chance of finding and eating them. The organic ones break down to iron and phosphates which are found in the soil anyway. Good idea to cover beds just in case though.

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  2. You have some lovely things in your garden! You talk of reading other gardening blogs, but are you visiting gardens during Open Garden Squares Weekend as well?

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    1. Hi Candy, thank you - there are areas of the garden here that I absolutely love and work well, especially this month. Open Garden Squares has some wonderful gardens to visit; I wish there was time to see more but I'll be pleased if can get to my chosen three - the allotments at Branch Hill, the barge gardens that I read about on your blog and, if time, back to hear the talk at the Southwark Cathedral herb garden. There's also 49 Bankside in the Southwark area which looks good. So many gardens, so little time!

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  3. A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. It's all looking and sounding good. xx

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    1. The recent weather has helped to bring the garden on - and the weeds so I'm keeping busy!

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  4. I will be interested to hear how you get on with Sluggo. I'd been using Slug Rid, as it's now called, with success up to this year. Now it seems the slugs are increasingly ignoring it. Strulch I haven't tried. Wool pellets I have and they've been useless for me.

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    1. Sluggo is working well for me at the moment - as is the drier weather we've had here in London over the past couple of weeks. It's hard to know what works for the best with so many variants in growing conditions - my concrete jungle garden vs your woodland. I have drier conditions, you have more birds to pick the slugs off. Belt and braces is the way forward I think.

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  5. The flowers in your garden are lovely. I just have boring vegetables in mine, although I do love them. I'm surprised how fast corn grows, it races towards the sun. Your ripening strawberries and broad beans are a pretty sight.

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    1. Oh no! Vegetables can be lovely as well - and you get to eat them! Although I grow the flowers for looks as well as to tempt pollinators in towards my veg. I hope that there will be lots of sun for my corn to grow towards!

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  6. I'm on a major blog post catch up too Caro. I seem to have spent the last few weeks attached to a watering can. No thunderstorms and very little in the way of the wet stuff here :( Our allotment site has gone from a bog in April to cracked earth over a couple of months. I'm not that keen on radishes but I believe that they are the fastest maturing veggie crop. Sad about the plums but oh what a richness of quinces :)

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