We recently came back from our holidays in Yorkshire and one of the first things I did was take a quick look at the garden to see what had survived. This year I planted everything outside, knowing we would be away for a few weeks here and there and then set up a sprinkler (on a small table so it reaches further) that could be put on timer. It reaches most of the vegetable patch and has generally done it’s job, but some of the plants with lots of foliage have struggled as the water just hasn’t reached the soil, an example being the potatoes which have lost all their leaves now. I find that as long as I let the soil dry, I can eke out collecting and eating them for a few weeks and they are still fine, I am also amazed how long they survive in the fridge although that does take out some of the pleasure of eating them directly from the garden which the boys enjoy.
We returned to quite a lot of ready salad. The tomatoes aren’t the best I’ve grown, this is due to slight neglect, lack of feeding and direct watering so is entirely my own fault. Despite my attempts to kill them, the plants are providing a reasonable crop with the good old Sungold doing the best. We are also, very late, now turning out lots of cucumbers which C devours at quite a rate. I only had 3 plants in the end, the rest got nibbled at an early stage but I was only aiming for 4 as we can’t keep up with eating the fruits otherwise.
One thing I was quite excited about on our return was the sweetcorn, which is ready. Hummmmm, freshly cooked corn boiled briefly and ideally smothered in butter and in my case salt and pepper (the kids just get butter, I sadly have to restrict this bit) makes any growing effort worthwhile. I gave up a whole raised bed for this crop, with 16 plants this year but it’s worth it. The cobs aren’t their usual size, again through lack of water I think, but they are still delicious and it’s always a delight to see F tucking in when the mere sight of canned corn sends him into drama overdrive of ‘bring that yellow stuff near me and I’ll die instantly’ proportions.
Plants still going well are courgettes (I’m waiting for the powdery mildew to take over, it’ll happen soon I’m sure), spring onions, carrots, strawberries, lettuce, beetroot and of course herbs. Generally, the garden isn’t as productive as normal and I think the very dry summer is to blame along with a little laziness on my part. It’s been hard to keep up with the watering and I’m useless at working in the garden in any heat, I just can’t do it. On the plus side, the fruit crops, both in the garden and hedgerows have been splendid this year. We had bumper redcurrants, blackcurrants, pink gooseberries and strawberries plus it looks like the figs, medlars and blackberries (which we have just started picking) are going to be great. Even the sloes that normally get quite diseased are fantastic this year.
I picked these yesterday, which is a bit late for here in Kent where they ripen very early. We have a huge bank of sloe bushes near the house, many more than I could actually do anything with, in fact as the kids are still off school and I’m quite busy sewing for the shop, these have been washed, air-dried and popped in the freezer to be dealt with at a later date (probably more sloe gin). I have also noticed one of the elderberry bushes in the garden has evaded the birds and is heavy with fruit, if the rain (hurrah, rain at last!) stops I may pick some later today.
On a final note, I did plant lots of seeds in late July and early August which I have forgotten to mention. Some are quite late in and I’m relaying, again, on the mild weather we get here. So far there are, carrots, sprion onions, kale, chard, turnips, khol rabi and winter salad. I’ve been a bit haphazard and just thrown them into the beds where the garlic where, if they grow they grow, if not no worries, I wont have a lot of time this Autumn for gardening but I do want to get everything nicely tidied up for the Winter.