Time flies and the weeds grow. It’s now the longest day and full steam ahead in the plant world and the weeds and I are neck and neck. Although if I am being truthful it’s more that they have got me by the neck. I’ve been reduced to a slash and burn policy – I’ll do whatever it takes to kneecap them and get me back ahead before they flower, set seed and laugh in my face for years to come. I don’t use weedkillers – partly because I find them largely ineffectual for more than a temporary halt to proceedings, partly because I dislike them and most garden herbicides are indiscriminate about what they kill beyond monocotyledon and dicotyledons and I’m growing this stuff to eat after all. And also because I have lots of animals both pet and wild wandering around the garden so for me weed control is always going to involve a certain amount of elbow grease and sweat and turning a blind eye to some of it – it’s good to remember that some of the more thuggish weeds are also beneficial or vital for wildlife or the general ecosystems so a bit of mess in plant terms is good for everybody. I just need to be able to find my veggies in amongst it all though…
Various things are vying for my time and attention just now but the garden came back to the forefront this week as on Monday I completed my shearing for 2014 and the sheep were all primped and tidied and ready to go back out into the field to grow nice fleeces for next winter! So I’ve been hoeing, pulling, digging and cutting at the weeds and planting out and tying up the veggies to try and keep some semblance of order. Some of them had been a bit neglected but for a week or so I think we’re back on track.
It wouldn’t be mid summer without roses and these are some of my favourite flowers. I like flowers to smell nice so I stick my nose into these beauties every time I walk past because I know they won’t last as long as I want them to.
and Gertrude Jekyll which was a gift from a neighbour when I started gardening to encourage me. There are other lovely flowers around wafting out scent, the wisteria pushed out roughly 3 blooms this year – nice whilst it lasted, in your own time Wisteria… It’s parsimonious with the flowers this particular plant.
And we have mock orange blossom spouting out perfume behind the roses and the stocks mum grew from seed are behind the house. Lovely.
The currants are starting to ripen which is attracting the attention of the blackbirds so they need netting
as do the strawberries – only a few large ones but I also grew 120 alpine strawberries Mignonette from seed
The celeriac are settling in nicely and are largely unmolested by pests. And by planting them in blocks it makes it easier to hoe between them
The January King cabbages are doing Ok and not bolting yet which I’d half thought they’d do. And the butterflies aren’t around yet but it will be any day now and then it will be caterpillar patrol from then on!
Carrots are always netted here otherwise the carrot fly trash the entire crop. These are mostly Autumn King and doing nicely in their own little netting tunnel. I have Paris Market and Nantes elsewhere too.
Calabrese that got planted out on Wednesday – one of my favourites and also next door, another bed of Romanesco – a sort of cauliflower but it’s green like calabrese and like a pointed spiral. It tastes delicious – far nicer than cauliflower and also nicer than calabrese – and that’s nice enough!
The leeks – hannibal I think this year or it could have been Bleu de Salais also got planted out – they looked good, I managed to get them nice and fat before planting out. On our clay they get lost if the seedlings are too grasslike so hopefully there should be some nice leeks in the winter. I love these! Especially with cheese sauce… ;0) There were only a few dwarf french beans as the seeds failed badly at germination so I’ve sown some more yesterday. I’ve also sown some radish and spring onions in this bed.
The broad beans have gone mental and overtaken the spinach next door! No beans yet though..
And the courgette got planted out by the runner beans and the onions….
….which are doing really nicely this year.
This year I’ve also experimented with a sweet pea tunnel as described by Sarah Raven. So far it looks a little scruffy – I built it out of hazel trimmed from our field hedges in the winter
but the sweet peas are getting to grips with it
and even throwing out the odd flower here and there already
and hopefully it will look really pretty by the end of the summer
The raspberries look a bit lost though – next job is to excavate them before they suffocate!!
The next batch of seeds got sown – the french beans of course as well as various cabbage varieties
I like to use Seeds of Italy, it’s a great London based company and the varieties are good and interesting, grow well and you get lots of seed for your money unlike with some other seed companies. I also like their philosophy and they are friendly and family run. So most of the vegetables I’m growing have Italian names which makes even the mundane like cabbage seem rather exotic.
Cavolo Nero, Cavolo rosso, Finocchio, Cavolo di Bruxelles, Basilico Italiano Genovese...
it sounds much more appealing than kale, red cabbage, fennel, brussels sprouts and basil.
This combined with the fact we’re watching Francesco da Mosto’s Mediterranean Voyage on a loop each evening at the moment whilst I spin and knit makes me wonder if I shouldn’t add learning Italian to my list of “things to do”. Never enough hours in the day! I’d better get on with some more gardening whilst we have maximum daylight hours. Happy MidSummer…