As an amateur gardener I like use this Blog post to share some of my experiences - good and bad - as I continue to experiment with different crops and different growing techniques. On occasions I may also share some of my close encounters with the wildlife that I come across while tending my plot.
Well here we are in the middle of summer growing season. While the May sunshine was welcome the extended dry period had a major impact on the garden. Like most people my grass suffered the most and even with the recent rain it is struggling to recover, with more brown than green patches at the moment.
The sunshine also meant I had to keep a close eye on the plants in my greenhouse and polytunnel. It does not take long for the heat to build up with the sun shining from early morning. Thankfully I have not lost any plants to the heat and my experiment with growing strawberries in a raised trough in my polytunnel has been rewarded with an early crop of decent sized strawberries. So I may add another trough for next year.
Having very dry soil and the regular sunshine has meant I have had to be careful when planting out into the vegetable plot. It has been essential to make sure plants are well watered and in some cases, given extra shade until they are well established.
My early crop of potatoes got off to a slow start but have recovered well and I hope to start checking for the first potatoes in the next week or so. The sweetcorn is enjoying the sun and again I am hoping for a good crop this year. We have now been able to reduce the amount of green salad we purchase as my lettuce crop is flourishing.
My full range of outside vegetables now includes:
Climbing french beans, dwarf french beans, two varieties of courgette, cauliflower, beetroot, chard, spring onions, leeks, sweet potatoes, peas and carrots.
Plus in the greenhouse there are:
Two varieties of tomatoes, sweet peppers, chilli peppers and cucumbers.
In terms of fruit I have a few blueberries, several raspberries, rhubarb and my grape vine looks as though it will provide a decent crop of grapes again this year. My apple trees have not produced any fruit this year and the kiwi fruit tree looks a bit bare this year in terms of potential fruit.
So over the coming weeks and months we should have plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit available. All of which taste so much better when picked from your own garden which is why I like this time of year so much.
The Covid-19 pandemic is having one major benefit … many people like myself in lock down who have the benefit of a garden are able to spend more time preparing and maintaining their gardens during what is normally a busy period for most gardeners. Judging by the various comments I see on social media channels I think there are also many people who are discovering the joys of gardening for the first time.
I have managed a mixed start to the season, with some crops doing well and others not so well. I planted some early tomato and pepper seeds this year. However the slugs were quick to trim my peppers and managed to kill most of the tomato seedlings through over watering. 🙁
I have planted some early potatoes in garden and in tubs. Not sure how well they are going to do as shoots seem to be taking a while to show to any decent length.
Apart from the initial disaster with peppers and tomatoes other seeds doing well. In garden lettuce and spinach showing well. In poly tunnel cauliflower, leeks and sweet corn all doing well.
My experiment with growing strawberries in raised trough looks like it will work several plants already have flowers so hoping for an early crop that is slug free.
And finally my granddaughters equivalent of Worzel Gummage is ready to scare off any marauding pigeons once the greens start to show.
In one of my earlier posts I mentioned that I had purchased a polytunnel to try to give me more space for plant storage during winter period and hopefully somewhere to stat off some early seeds.
At the time I was not sure if this would prove to be a wise investment – although to be fair it was not an expensive item. I was concerned as to how well it would survive any potential high winds. Well now I have the answer.
The good news is that I still have a fully functional polytunnel. The bad news is that the cover has not survived unscathed following a battering by high winds.
As the image here shows the cover has torn at the point the anchoring cable ties join the cover. The problem is partially caused by a design fault. The point at which the ties join is also the point at which an internal tie is provided to connect the cover to the frame.
The internal tie point just wraps around the frame and there is nothing to stop this point on the cover moving up and down in the wind. The tension of the cable tie eventually causes stress and then a tear. If the internal tie was further down at the point where there is a cross beam in the frame then it could have been anchored much more tightly and possibly stopped the movement that caused the tear.
Another positive is that the polytunnel does seem to retain a reasonable amount of heat so most plants seem to be coping with the cold weather. I am also hopeful that my experiment with a raised bed for strawberries in the polytunnel will provide me with some early strawberries. Assuming the polytunnel continues to survive in tact.
The amount of wild life activity in my garden continues to surprise me.
I happened to look out my window and noticed that my car appeared to have white fluff on the body work. Getting closer to the window I could see this sparrowhawk on my lawn with a wood pigeon it had obviously just caught and the white fluff on my car was from pigeon feathers.
Because this is something that you do not see very often I quickly grabbed my camera and took a number of photos and a short video to record the event.
Video of the sparrowhawk feeding on the wood pigeon it has just killed – https://youtu.be/ZXof_eMERtI
A short winter update on progress in the garden. The continuous rain is making it difficult to complete many tasks outside in the garden at the moment. However the one positive is that I am collecting plenty of rain water for the coming growing season.
So far my polytunnel has survived the high winds so fingers crossed it will still be in place come the spring. I have completed the set up of my experiment to grow strawberries in the polytunnel in a raised bed. Hoping this will give me an early crop and reduce the impact of mice and slugs on the fruit. Come the new year I will be looking to start off some seeds in the polytunnel and hoping that storing sensitive plants like my bougainvillea wrapped in fleece will prevent frost damage.
I had high hopes for my sweet potatoes this year. I decided to try growing them in grow bags for ease of harvesting. While they did produce many tubers it was obvious that the use of grow bag restricted the ability for the tubers to grow to any decent size. So may have another go next year but with larger bag.
One big plus this year has been the growing of peppers from plants. Although I have grown peppers from seeds in past they tend not to produce any crops that ripen beyond green. However this year I decide to go with plug plants from Marshalls. This has been successful and I still have some plants growing in greenhouse plus I have a prize sweet pepper that has turned red!