Monday, 21 September 2015

SUMMER HAS ARRIVED



SUMMER HAS ARRIVED

It has been a weird year for gardening weather. Summer came at Easter and stayed for a whole week, but then the jet stream looped down to the south pulling in cold wet winds from the north which lasted up till early September. Then the summer came back to Scotland mid month, but only for a couple of days around Tayside as clouds spoiled the fun. However it was dry so we took every chance to crack on with the harvesting and weeding. Hand weeding and hoeing were fine between crops and paths got a spray of glyphosate which should work just fine as it really needs a couple of dry days to work. Rain too soon after spraying will wash the weedkiller off the leaves. This herbicide is inactivated on contact with the soil, but is readily absorbed by healthy foliage.
Summer flowers
Summer poppies
The recent warm dry weather has brought out the summer flowers in a late but terrific blaze of colour. Chrysanthemums, gladioli, poppies, roses, sweet peas and African marigolds have added colour to my allotment and at home the dahlias, fuchsias, lilies, tuberous begonias and geraniums have never been better. Drifts of lavender have been a mass of purple for weeks. However it has not been a good year for petunias and impatiens (bizzie lizzies) most of which have just about died out.
Summer and autumn vegetables
Harvesting is in full swing with sweet corn, cauliflowers, cabbage, onions, beetroot, turnip, peas, and French beans all heading for the kitchen table and the freezer. Sweet corn is not as plentiful as last year with smaller cobs, some with poor fertilisation and only one cob per plant this year.
Onions are a different story as my one packet of Hytech seed has given me a massive crop of huge onions now drying off just fine in the sun, getting ready to be roped up for storing. After lifting the onions I spread some compost on the bare soil, forked it in, then after firming and raking it level, it got sown down with a clover green manure. I will dig this in during winter.
Cutting a cauliflower
Tomatoes are another crop that seems to be liking this rotten summer. The crop is massive with plants fruiting on the eighth truss. A lot of the surplus crop is getting frozen and will be used for soup and pasta sauce. Fresh tomatoes not picked till fully ripe are perfect in salads and soups.
Autumn fruit crops
Anna picking the chokeberries
The cool damp summer did no harm to the autumn raspberries, brambles, blueberries and aronias, but a wee bit more sun would have made them all a wee bit sweeter. I have been trying out two new varieties of autumn raspberry to compare them with my standard Autumn Bliss. Polka definitely has very large sweet berries, bigger than Autumn Bliss, though the latter has been exceptionally big this year. Autumn Treasure also said to be very large has still to fruit so nothing to compare at this stage. Aronia Viking was picked mid September from young bushes but as this is the first crop my three pounds will be kept for compote and jam. I should get a far bigger crop next year when hopefully I will have some spare for a couple of demijohns of a healthy dark red wine high in antioxidants.
Perpetual strawberry Flamenco continues to produce lovely large red berries but lack of sun creates a harder berry lacking juice and sweetness.
Early apple Oslin has now all been picked and bright red Discovery has now taken over.
Grapes growing outside on south facing walls and fences just love this weather and growth is hard to keep under control, but young bunches really need warmer weather to swell and ripen up. Two varieties, Siegerrebe and Rondo have already produced the first bunches and an older vine of Phoenix (three years old) has about twenty large bunches showing great promise if that sun would make an appearance for a week or longer. Who knows, we could get lucky !!!

Wee jobs to do this week
Autumn salad crops of lettuce, rocket, mustard, radish and mizuna will need thinning out if germination has been good. The recent mild spell combined with moist soil has been perfect for germination. I thin out radish to about an inch apart and the others to two inches, and then they will get thinned out further as you use young leaves for tender salads.

END

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