Monday, 16 July 2018

GARDENING WITH TROPICAL WEATHER


GARDENING WITH TROPICAL WEATHER

Garden activities have always been dependant on prevailing weather. We expect frost and snow in winter, followed by increasing temperatures in
Aurelia with home grown mushrooms and strawberries
spring then onwards to our erratic summer of sun, rain and wind. Climate change appears to be happening so we are left trying to tie garden work somewhere in between normal seasonal weather
Dave hoeing his weeds
and its frequent variations. 2018 got off to a weird start as a mild winter continued into spring which almost failed to arrive. Then we were quickly thrust into summer for the whole month of May, until the storms arrived followed by gales. The rain passed away, summer returned and decided to stay for a few weeks. Both the gardener and his plants were left in complete bewilderment. Summer turned tropical. It was so hot that I had to find a shady spot for my sun lounger, but the garden plants (those that recovered from the gales) just adored it, provided the hose came out on a daily basis to make sure they never dried out. Growth and flowering have never been better. We may have been running three to four weeks behind in spring but now many crops are ahead and harvesting has started. My
Casablanca first early potatoes
first row of lettuce Lollo Rossa and spring onions have all been lifted and used, and my second row of spring onions and lettuce, Webbs Wonderful are getting used regularly.
The hot dry weather has been fantastic for hoeing weeds as they quickly shrivel up, and while it is dry there is very little germination of new weeds, apart from those areas which get irrigated.
Potato Casablanca, a first early has been getting lifted from early June, with excellent size for a salad spud, and the taste of this potato is fantastic. Other potatoes have now all finished flowering
Dave with his great cherry crop
and with very strong healthy foliage bulking up is well under way. Blight may well give us a miss this year as long as the sun shines and rain is just the occasional shower.
Cabbage, cauliflower and kale are growing very strongly, and it seems the normal spacing has been too close as they all want to grow to exhibition size.
Delosperma cooperii
Courgettes and Pumpkins are also growing like fury, though I have to keep them well watered. My first courgettes were ready at the end of June. These cucurbits are sharing space with my sweet corn Incredible, now about four to five feet tall, very robust and now beginning to flower.
Brilliant to see so much luxuriant growth.
Strawberry picking started in mid June with berries in abundance on early, mid season, late season and even my autumn perpetual Flamenco is cropping. However my new variety on trial, Colossus, turns out no bigger than any others, but has a high level of small misshapen fruit and a very low level of crop. It will be getting dug out and discarded in a few weeks time.
Raspberry Glen Fyne started to crop at the beginning of July and crop potential looks enormous. Raspberry Glen Dee suffered in the gales, but is recovering and also looks great. Autumn raspberry Polka got flattened with many canes broken, so looks like I will be depending on old favourite Autumn Bliss which was unharmed and now growing strongly.
Grape Siegerrebe
Fig tree Brown Turkey may not yet be in full foliage as many of the large leaves suffered in the gales, but it is determined to put on more growth to feed the huge crop of figs that just love this tropical climate. I hope to pick my first figs this month.
Cherry trees are having a great year and fellow plot holder Dave has had to protect his huge crop from birds who just love the juicy fresh cherries. Another plot holder Aurelia has had a terrific crop of mushrooms which she has grown in an old barrel full of compost.
The flower garden has never been better; with star of the show my purple Delosperma cooperii.
Apples after thinning
Tomatoes are well ahead with the first Alicante ready to pick in early July and yellow cherry Sungold now turning colour. Grapes under glass have huge bunches which may need thinning.

Wee jobs to do this week

The June drop has now thinned out the apple crop, but most trees are still carrying too many apples so go over the tree and thin clusters out to leave only one or two apples per spur. This will ensure they grow to a decent size.
END

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