What a fantastic start to June we’ve had here in Somerset. Last night we had some much-needed rain, but largely it’s been very warm (often actually hot!), dry, sunny and thoroughly summery. Today it’s humid and damp, perfect weather for planting out the last of my cabbages and cut flower seedlings and direct sowing some follow-on crops of carrots, beetroot and lettuces.
Around the garden, vegetables and fruit plants are getting into their stride, and taking off at speed. Even though some plants seem a bit small after the poor spring, they are flowering well and setting fruit.
The extra effort to get everything ‘shipshape’ through May is now paying off – specifically: building extra beds, weed control, slug control, mulching, planting out, direct sowing, frost protecting, frame construction and netting. After feeling a bit overwhelmed that I’d ‘bitten off more than I can chew’ at the end of May, I can now relax. The worry that summer would never arrive has once again evaporated. Without that crazy need to control and direct nature, one can instead revel in the results and the surprises it gives back. It’s all suddenly abundantly enjoyable again.
Two crops haven’t been so happy with this seemingly Spring-less leap from winter into summer:
- Firstly, the red onions have nearly all bolted and what growth developed in the bulbs will only serve to nourish the flower and its relentlessly greedy stalk. Snapping off the flower head makes no difference to the stalk’s genetic programming of using the bulb for its ‘upwards and outwards’ growth. As the bulbs won’t keep, I’ve decided to pull them up, wash and trim off the leaves, cut them lengthways to remove the stalk bits, and freeze them (including skins) to use in vegetable stock. The beds are then free for something else.
- Secondly, the ‘Kelvedon’ peas… 3 successional sowings of Unwins seeds have all failed 100% to appear in any shape or form, and 10 Rocket Garden plug plants of the same type have also been pretty hopeless at taking root or growing. The ‘Sugar Ann’ pea seeds bought from Sarah Raven, on the other hand, have been fantastic, sprouting a week after direct sowing and the plants look healthy and strong. I might just replace the onions with another sowing of those… Just in time before it’s too late to sow peas.
Besides the premature onions, summer harvesting so far has included:
- Cut-and-come-again lettuces planted out in eggshells. Tender leaves. No slug damage at all. Not such a silly project after all?
- Broad beans. Starting to harvest those while smaller and sweeter, and before black aphids take hold.
- Strawberries… A couple of alpine strawberries, and the cultivated ones are now starting to redden.
- Rocket salad leaves, although these have also bolted into flower, and perhaps need more frequent picking when they’re younger.
- All the radishes have now been eaten, and the space replanted with beetroot.
- Carrot thinnings, sweet and juicy baby carrots from both the Marshalls Norwich and Organic Catalogue’s Nantes2.
Here’s some recent photos of crops progress in the garden (click on the photos to see notes):