Monthly Roundup: July

A month of mixed weather – heavy to torrential rain followed by hot, sunny days – and nights!

I harvested my first tub of potatoes – Swift first earlies .

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Runner beans are growing well.  They had produced three beans by the middle of the month.  Then a spurt of growth and half the bean arch is covered with them.

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Climbing beans are on their way now – second sowing, now using Blauhilde – a dark-purple bean that changes to deep green when cooked. No beans yet.

Dwarf broad beans – White Emergo – produced nine pods in total.  Eaten in one sitting! I won’t bother growing these again – too much effort for too little reward – and there’s only me who likes them.  Unless someone gives me one or two plants!!

Beetroot – the less said about them the better.  They are supposed to take 90 days from sowing to harvesting.  I planted my seedling out at the end of April; they are still no fatter than a pencil and still only have a couple of leaves each. This was taken on 6th July – they are no better now.

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Salad leaves – Lollo Rossa and Little Gem were late sowings but have done very well, so much so that I had to give some away.

Spinach and Chard were a good choice as both produced plenty of leaves for salads and for steaming. As Spinach can be sown outdoors as late as September, I’ve removed all the first sowings, which had bolted, and sown more seed, as other vegetables finish (or I call it a day with the beetroot), I will sow more spinach.  I’m using Cello F1.

The Chard was a coloured mix; the red grew better than the cream, with yellow somewhere in between.  I’ve removed the plants that bolted – and put them in the new compost bin.

Given my cat problem – they like to use my raised beds as their litter tray – I’ve arrived at a cunning plan, which I will try again next year. Previously, I’ve divided both of my raised beds into a grid using old roofing battens.  This worked OK, but I’m still left with the problem of cats liking bare earth, and it’s not feasible to use weed-control membrane on the bed even though it is only a small area.

For the rest of this year – as a trial – I’m using upturned hanging baskets.  I started with the new spinach.  I cleared the area, removed any weeds, watered it well and placed an upturned basket on the spot.  Then I ‘lightly’ (sort of) sprinkled spinach seeds inside the basket, and topped it off with fresh grow-bag compost.  It is already sprouting after a week.

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The cats won’t walk where the basket is and the basket will act as a support as the spinach grows.

As I only had seven wire baskets and two half-baskets, I put out a call on our local Recycle, Re-use Facebook site, and immediately received an offer of two baskets from a near neighbour.  Followed by a rather nice black metal half-basket – too nice for this purpose, and I have a bare wall so . . .

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I’ve done some more work on ‘Compost Corner’, moving plants and bulbs and digging out soil, which I’ve used in the new bin, layering it with the spinach and chard I pulled up, together with torn up newspaper, lavender clippings, and vegetable peelings.

I’ll soon have room for my second square compost bin, which arrived last week.

And, in case you missed it, I now have a raised bed in the new Community Garden.  You can read about it by clicking on the Community Garden tab above.

As rain stopped play for the final weekend of July, I have been plotting and planning my new project, considering how to manage the site, and my time. I’m sure there will be more to show and tell in August.

And, finally, the overhanging tree has gone – not completely – but to a manageable stump.  Our telephone lines are safe!

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