Well it’s been quite a month at Blackbirds!
We’ve seen rain, hail, fog, mist and now we are basking in the most wonderful summer sunshine. It’s played havoc with the garden with the roses in a pretty poor state and the herbaceous borders beaten into submission, but nature has still provided for us.
We have a steady supply of tasty fresh produce which is pretty much down to all the rain we’ve had for the last few weeks, which of course we’ve been collecting in readiness for dry days ahead.
I’ve expanded my collection of water butts by using some redundant chemical barrels which my brother in law very kindly gave me, that otherwise be dumped in landfill, so I’m pretty pleased about that.
Cut flower garden update
With all the recent sunshine and warm weather it really has done me proud. I’m so pleased with the results and most definitely will be having another go next year. To think this all came pretty much from a few packets of seed in the Spring.
The dahlias are definitely the success story, proud and majestic as they stand guard over the flower garden.
Dahlias like plenty of water so as well as regular watering try add a layer of mulch when the plants have established and they will repay your efforts a hundred times with the most beautiful looking flowers. Once established they require little maintenance other than some decent supports and regular dead heading.
To get the bigger blooms I nip out the two buds on each side of the main central bud leaving the larger one to develop.
This does two things. All the energy goes into to the one bud producing a larger flower, and the stems grow longer making for a really impressive cut flower.
My sweet peas were a bit slow to get started but now they appear to be making up for lost time.
I did experiment this year as I wanted to find out if there was any difference between sowing the seeds in October or the Spring. Have to say the results aren’t that conclusive. The October sowing have produced flowers much sooner than the Spring sowing, however the Spring plants appear stronger and I suspect will produce better flowers in the long run. I’ll know more next month which is typically the best month for sweet peas at Blackbirds.
Don’t think I’ll need those fruit boxes his year.
Not everything in the garden is a success this year. Unfortunately the fruit trees are looking a bit sorry. Last year we had a bumper crop of apples, pears and plums along with just about everyone else in the country, but we’ll be lucky to harvest a few apples, maybe a handful of plums and perhaps the odd pear.
I think it’s down to a wet and windy Spring as many of my fellow gardeners have told me similar stories.
Willow it ever grow?
Hmmm a bit disappointing to be honest with my willow. I thought willow was a fast grower?
I’ve kept them watered and top dressed with a good layer of mulch, but the stems I planted back in the Spring seem to be taking for ever to grow away.
Also the leaves are looking a little yellow which suggest a shortage of magnesium which is probably down to my chalky soil. I’m not going to panic though as I’ll give them a light sprinkling of Epsom salts. (Magnesium in a box)
In a few weeks they should green up again and start to move, finger crossed
By the way if you plan to use epsom salts in your garden remember to keep it off the leaves if at all possible or the granules will likely scorch the plant, and always water thoroughly afterwards.
Every cloud has a silver lining
Even the grey ones that have plagued the British Isles for the last few months! Most of my vegetables have done really well, that is apart from my potato crop which has just been struck with blight. I didn’t panic as my dad always told me if your potatoes have blight simply cut off the tops and burn them. Then on a dry day dig up the potatoes and leave them on the surface for a day to dry off. Then store them in a large paper sack (I use the chicken feed bags) and leave in a dry cold place. Seems to work.
Blight is a fungal disease which is carried in the air, which makes it really difficult to control. I’m thinking it’s probably down to the warm damp weather we had throughout May and June. Hasn’t put me off growing potatoes as I still managed a fairly decent crop of Charlotte.
It’s worth noting though Blight can also affect tomatoes as they are basically from the same family as the potatoe, so my advice is never grow your tomatoes in the proximity of your potatoes. I only know this as I planted a few spare tomato plants 3 yards from my potato crop as I couldn’t bear to throw them away, but as soon as the potatoes were hit, the tomatoes soon followed. 😦
How to avoid vegetable glut
Every year I grow too many veggies and end up throwing a fair few onto the compost heap, but this year I’m attacking it from two angles. I’m planning to have an honesty table at the end of the lane, and I’m having a go at successional sowing .
I sow every 4-6 weeks as a rule and it’s worked really well for me. I have carrots, Beetroot and turnips at various stages of development and I plan to harvest the first of my beetroot next week. The second sowing should be ready in about 4-6 weeks, so we should have lovely beets throughout August and September and possibly into October.
I also plan to sow a couple of rows in the polytunnel towards the end of August, by which time I’ll probably starting looking like a Beetroot.
August just around the corner … it’s party time in the polytunnel!
My cucumbers (all female) are cropping well and the tomatoes are looking like they will produce a fair crop this year. Cucumbers will always wilt a little in the heat because the huge leaves expire moisture really easily, so I try to keep cucumbers well watered while it’s so hot and keep the doors of the polytunnel open day and night.
I’m growing my most favourite tomato, Gardeners Delight, along with a few new varieties. I’ll post more info about my tomatoes when I’ve had a chance to taste them. Each year me and the family conduct our own tomato taste test to see if we like a particular tomato and decide if we’ll grow it again, but more on that later.
Tomatoes like warmth as well as sunlight, but at this time of the year the polytunnel can reach some pretty high temperatures which can scorch the plants. To get around this I douse the paths and beds with plenty of water. It brings the humidity up and the plants seem to thrive it.
I have a little gardening round!
A few weeks ago I started advertising gardening services in the local neighbourhood and to my delight I’ve had a favourable response from the locals. Nothing too ambitious I might add, just a few half days a week which is more than enough for little old me.
I got started by writing a few basic details on a plain post card and asked a few of the local shop keepers to put it up in their window which they very kindly agreed to do for a small donation. To my absolute delight the very next day I had an inquiry! Admittedly it’s fairly basic stuff, cutting lawns, laying a few turfs, weeding a few borders, but I love it and my customers must appreciate it as they invited me back the following week.
That was back in May and since then I’ve been to several houses, so for a little bit of effort I’m now working on other peoples gardens which is a source of great pleasure, and I get to make a few extra pennies at the same time.
Looking outside the sun is starting to set so I will sign off for now and look forward to sharing more of my gardening experiences with you very soon. 🙂
With my very best wishes,