MID SUMMER MADNESS
There is usually a short spell in July when the busy gardener can relax as the bedding plants are all planted and growing and the allotment is also fully planted up and seed is sown. The dry sunny weather was perfect for killing weeds, so just when I thought a few days on the sun lounger would fit in nicely, the garden and weather had other ideas. With almost a month without rain the hose was kept busy on both garden and allotment, though I still managed to lose a few mature heathers which dried out. However although I was up to date with tasks it was just too hot to relax in the sun, so it was back to the studio with the paint brushes and all the doors and windows wide open.
The mini heat wave gave all my plants a huge boost so before long a backlog of jobs built up.
It started with the strawberries needing picked every four days, then my spring cauliflower Aalsmeer grew faster than planned and needed planting out. However I had to harvest two rows of broad beans which ripened up quickly to make room for them. The broad beans gave us a very heavy crop which had to be shelled then the beans were skinned before freezing.
At the same time my first row of peas matured, so they had to be picked and podded.
This year I have had almost no bother with clubroot on my brassicas which I put down to using resistant varieties, using Perlka fertiliser and maintaining a good rotation. Nets over the crop kept the pigeons off but they did not stop the caterpillars arriving in droves. Slug pellets kept down slug attacks but I lost a few plants to rootfly where ever I didn’t put on protective collars.
Once the last strawberries were picked one row was dug out and the other cut back to encourage fresh growth and a few runners as I will now plant up a new bed in the autumn.
The old strawberry patch is getting dug over so I can plant up my spring cabbage, which are now ready.
Black and red currants, gooseberries and saskatoons have all ripened together so picking is constant, then topping and tailing the berries, and then cleaning them up before weighing and bagging them for the freezer.
As the freezer could not take everything at the same time I have started big batches of blackcurrant wine, Saskatoon wine as well as gooseberry wine.
Raspberry picking continued on my Glen Fyne and Glen Rosa, but the latter is a very big disappointment. The fruit is small and flavour not great, so after cropping I will dig them out.
Bramble Helen has ripened up so picking has started.
New Plant Discovery at City Road
I have always had excellent results with my mammoth pumpkins, so when the last one, a huge bright orange cracker, was ready for cooking at the end of March I decided to save the seed. I soon got a large batch of strong healthy plants. I kept about six for my own use and offered about twenty young plants to my fellow allotment plot holders.
It is a normal regular practise to pass on your spare plants.
However, unknown to me some bumble bee had pollinated my pumpkins after visiting my nearby courgettes. I never thought for a minute that they would cross pollinate, so now City Road plot holders have a range of strange looking pumpkins disguised as courgettes, but which may turn orange in the autumn or they may not. Will we get orange courgettes, striped marrows or green pumpkins? Only time will tell. Sometimes the experts can get it very wrong.
Plant of the week
Lavander is a very attractive garden herb, excellent for ground cover or a small boundary hedge covered in purple flowers in mid summer. The flowers are rich in nectar so bees just love it. It grows best on poor dry stony or sandy soil in full sun and needs good drainage. It is very easy to propagate from cuttings in autumn. It is grown commercially for its essential oils, used as an herb in the kitchen and for aromatherapy, used to add scent to potpourris and the essential oils aid relaxation and help with sleep disorders. It is added to sachets to keep linen smelling fresh.
Painting of the Month
Tullybaccart Walk. There are two excellent short walks at the top of Tullybaccart. One goes east past Tullybaccart Farm and the other west from the car park. They are both very pleasant with long panoramic views. It was a cold winter’s day with a good snow covering when I took the route west and fortunately had my camera with me to capture several views. I must have painted this area over a dozen times and this latest one was completed recently during the hot spell as it was too hot to go outdoors. So I kept cool by painting my snow scenes.