Saturday, 20 July 2013

Progress report 2

I know the weather in the U.K. can vary quite dramatically from place to place but for the last few weeks it seems that the whole country has been basking in hot sunshine. So we should all be happy after the awful spring we had shouldn't we? Oh, come on, we're gardeners and we need something to moan about so if it's not too cold it must be...too hot. Well, from a container grower's point of view it is. The outdoor crops need watering at least once and day and the courgettes and tomatoes need it twice a day. The greenhouse crops are sometimes getting watered three times a day. If we could guarantee this kind of weather every year I'd invest in an automatic watering system and greenhouse shading, but we can't, so I won't. Talking of tomatoes, they are absolutely loving it. I've been picking smaller ones for the last few weeks but I got the first of the 'beefsteaks' today.

This is a Black Russian and weighed in at 244g. When sliced it looks like this:
not a pretty sight but they taste fantastic

Although this variety looks like being a heavy cropper it does seem prone to blossom end rot. That might be down to the exceptional conditions as the other varieties are doing ok.

Perhaps the most demanding crop at the moment is the celery. Even in the ground it requires plenty of water but in a fish box!

And so I'm throwing every spare bit of water at it to try and keep the compost at least moist. There are 8 plants in here with another 10 in two other containers. The variety is Loretta F1, the first F1 variety I've grown.  Last year I tried a 'heritage' variety 'Green Soup' and it was hopeless which can hardly have been down to a lack of water. It was so stringy and tough that the only way you could even use it in soup is if you blitzed it in a blender.

One of the most painful jobs in gardening has to be picking gooseberries. Some varieties are much more prickly than others and the Invicta bush was particularly troublesome this year. I decided with the Hinomaki Reds to remove some of the branches and pick the fruit from the comfort of my garden chair.

This is a much more civilized option than bending over a bush and being scratched and stabbed to bits. They 
didn't get pruned last year so I'm hoping it won't do them too much harm. I managed to get 1.7kg from this particular bush and I've left some for the birds. Most of the soft fruit harvest is going straight into the freezer until I can work out what I'm going to do with it all.

A lot of the winter crops are hanging around in pots waiting for a space to plant them out. I managed to squeeze 20 leeks into a large container but I've had to lift some of the potato crop a little before I wanted  to in order to get the rest of them into the ground. The Kestrels are averaging about 1.3kg of good spuds per seed after 14/15 weeks.
leeks in a container
I've cleared away the first of the peas and broad beans now they've finished and that's given me some space for cabbages and swedes. The heat of the day is likely to stress them a little but I'll try and give them some shade until they get established. One great advantage of sowing in modules/small pots is that things develop a good root system which does enable them to cope better with the shock of transplanting.

My food hedge has squashes as well as climbing beans this year.

This is Uchiki Kuri which started off climbing up some trellis leaning against the hedge then decided to go its own way and wandered off about 2 metres from where it started!

It should be a good year for crops like this as they really don't appreciate the cold and damp. As you can imagine, last year was not the best for squashes so I'm pinning my hopes on the good weather continuing.

So that's it. Things are going pretty much as they should be and I'm complaining about all the watering I have to do. I suppose I could also complain about the sheer amount of produce I'm having to deal with but that really would be a complaint too far.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful reward for all of your hard work. We have only harvested a handful of Lettuce, Beans, Peas and Tayberries so far. Our Gooseberry Bush is a skeleton after something has eaten it for dinner. We didn't grow Potatoes this year but we will try Kestrel after reading about yours Colin. Marion