Thursday, 26 July 2012

Bee Bar

A few pictures of the flowers in my bee border - a narrow strip at the top end of the plot. It is in full flower at the moment and looking lovely. All the flowers are doing really well this year, and this has inspired me to devote a special patch next year specially for cutting flowers. Something to cheer me up if we get another year like this one, late July and still not much ready for harvest. Normally things are in full flow by now, so far this year all we have really had is broad beans, salad and potatoes ...

.. which brings me on to some really bad news: potato blight. I have never had it before, only tomato blight. Sadly the outdoor tomatoes are starting to show signs as well now, and they were doing so well, just starting to ripen, some of them. I have cut down most of the potato foliage and shoved it into bags, leaving some of the main crops which are not too badly affected yet. I am giving them a few more days to grow while the weather is good, but will have to cut them down before it starts to rain again. They have all had a dousing with anti-fungal treatment as well.

I have had a lot of blackcurrants and gooseberries though, and made plenty of jam. Yesterday I dug up my elephant garlic, just two bulbs to see if we liked it. Just as well I didn't plant more. It didn't agree with us and caused a very uncomfortable night! I have heard this said of artichokes, but nobody warned me about elephant garlic!

I have been getting up at the crack of dawn every day this week, to go down and make the most of the cool early mornings. While I wouldn't dream of complaining about this beautiful weather, it's really a bit too hot for working in after mid-morning.

Things are really starting to put on some growth finally, now we have a bit of warmth. Courgettes are really getting going, and beans are starting to flower. I know it's not going to last, but I am making the most of it while it does.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

A Glimmer of Hope

At last there is some hope on the horizon for our crops this summer, as reports are coming in that the Jet Stream is finally on the move northwards, which means that the weather will become more 'typical' for the time of year. Nobody has actually started talking about heatwaves yet though, so I suspect what they really mean is just 'a bit less crap' than we've had for the last couple of months. I'll settle for that, it'll be a definite improvement anyway.

These are the first of my tomatoes to start ripening, Sungold, typically reliable and early to ripen. We have had a cucumber already, with plenty more to come, and the plants are so much healthier than last year, when they were covered in mildew all summer long.

I have been picking broad beans galore, enough for some excess to freeze. I must remember to pay closer attention to spacing next year, I can hardly get in between my rows, and sturdier supports will be required too.

I have lost a couple of courgette and squash plants, to stem rot, and the red onions aren't doing too well, but most other crops are starting to perform well, including outdoor tomatoes, which I have mulched with chopped up comfrey. I picked vast quantities of blackcurrants the other day, enough to make about 9 jars of jam, and there are quite a lot more to come. Raspberries are starting to come as well, but the quality is not great and the birds seem to be eating most of them.

One area I am really pleased with is my bee border, which is now in full flower. I keep forgetting to take my camera with me, but I will definitely be showing that off in a future post.