Cucumber and squash

So much for the long hot summer. The last few weeks have been wet and windy, hindering work in the garden.  I'm pleased with the tomatoes and aubergines in the greenhouse and poly-tunnel. Despite the damp weather there is as yet no sign of the mould that greatly reduced my aubergine harvest last year, although the battle with aphids and whitefly has begun. 

Outside, the remaining garlic hasn't faired so well. The rust flared up again leaving few viable leaves on the Solent Wight. It should have been my main crop but I was forced to dig it up and the bulbs were very small. This time last year we were drowning in broad beans. This year we have had a steady supply but they are now coming to an end, more than a month earlier than last year. The beans I planted out in the beds have simply failed to thrive, maybe the vole who was excavating beneath them early on did the damage, maybe they were affected by residual herbicide in the horse manure, but they have finally been finished off over the last two or three days by pests. My best guess, from the damage, is a sudden aphid strike although even under very close inspection neither my husband nor I can see any - even with our spectacles on.

Cabbages, chard, beetroot, courgettes, cucumbers, broccoli calabrese and patty pan squashes doing nicely, carrots deformed but tasty and keeping us well fed. I'll definitely grow more of the calabrese next year.

harvested Early Purple Wight garlic

As planned we dug up the seriously rust affected garlic, variety Early Purple Wight. Very relieved that it had developed reasonable bulbs. Other two varieties, Solent Wight and Caulk Wight, still have significant number of green leaves although some showing rust patches and as the bulbs are still very small, decided to risk leaving them for another couple of weeks, subject to them not succumbing to the rust. It seems to have worked for the Early Purple Wight, so at least not all lost. Harvested first turnips and finally cut some chard. Went well with squash (patty pan Delikates), courgettes (Midnight) and broad beans in stir fry with mushrooms, noodles and soy sauce. In the greenhouse fruits are forming on the Cape Gooseberries. Last year none germinated but this year I have two small plants. In the poly-tunnel the sweet potato plants have put on a spurt of growth. This year for first time attempting to grow okra as it no longer seems to be available at the supermarket we use. Since I took delivery of the six plants about a week ago the temperature has been just about sufficient to keep them alive, but hoping for some growth when the weather improves from tomorrow.

 

cucumber

Today, planted out the last few celariac plants and also filled in the gaps left by harvested spring cabbage with sime cabbage Dutchman which I am hoping will be ready to harvest in August. The broccoli calibrese (Matsuri F1) heads have started to develop, which is a relief as I thought they may have gone the way of my spring cauliflowers which didn't develop heads. In the poly-tunnel the cucumber (Emilie) got off to a good start but the recent bout of poor weather seems to have set them back with many of the fruits withering without developing.  Good weather forecast for the next few days so I will be watching to see if there is an improvement. Tomatoes also doing well with plenty of fruit setting, but chillis still struggling. Last week we started harvesting carrots (Amsterdam Forcing), they were predicatbly curly from the stony soil, but very tasty. We should have some baby beetroots and turnips soon. Radish and salad leaves have been better this year with slugs under better control. Tomorrow if it's not raining we'll dig up the garlic, covered in rust, to see if anything can be salvaged. Fortunately the rust hasn't spread to the leeks and onions. But talking of rust, I noticed a few spots on one of the pear trees. I've removed the leaves. Hopefully it will slow the spread.

Broad bean plants in flower

Leek, cauliflower and carrot seedlings which germinated indoors moved into greenhouse. Choy sum flower buds forming, almost ready to harvest. Winter cabbage and purple sprouting broccoli coming good in the garden, but no cauliflowers - they all succumbed to funal infection. Second batch of trinidad chillis have all germinated but still none from the first batch. I have to assume I killed them.

Mud and water at base of sapling tree

We have escaped the storms this month relatively unscathed, but parts of the ground are becoming waterlogged with the persistent rain.  In the first storm a branch came down from one of our trees and today we had to take emergency action to clear standing water from around the bases of our newly planted fruit tree saplings. In the greenhouse the autumn sown peas and broad beans are thriving and the latest sowing, which also included sweet peas, have all germinated. The winter gem lettuce is still struggling and the spring onions look sorry for themselves. Indoors the window sills are filling up with seedlings: tomatoes, aubergines, cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks and cabbage together with assorted flowers. Some are in warm rooms, others cooler. I swapped to peat free compost and am struggling to gauge the watering, especially in the propagator where the surface quickly dries out under the heat from the lights. After four weeks still not sign of the Trinidad chillis germinating. Have I killed them or am I being impatient?

Yellow Crocuses

After my concern about infection in the winter brassicas I scoured the on-line information to try to identify the problem but to me it could have been all or none of the diseases. I ruled out those which thrive in hot and/dry conditions. It has been wet and, for winter, fairly mild. The bed they are in is new  - nothing has been grown there before so I am assuming it isn't caused by the soil - and I have been keeping it as well weeded as I can in the current weather. In the end I assume it is some sort of mildew.  The kale and cabbages haven't developed any more yellow leaves but the curds of the cauliflowers started to look very unappealing and some did not have many leaves left, so to be on the safe side I pulled them up and disposed of them away from the garden. The spring brassicas which are on the other side of the garden are struggling to grow. The organic slug control wasn't completely effective and some were heavily "nibbled" earlier on, but they don't get much light at this time of year. Fortunately there are no signs of infection or discoloured leaves.  Elsewhere the spring bulbs are pushing through and last week the crocuses came into bloom; a little touch of spring before this week's storm and wintery weather. Indoors I have trays of seedlings on all my window sills. This year I'm trying for more flowers and ornamental plants. I need something bright to cheer me up. The webmaster isn't impressed. He only wants things he can eat.