Monthly Roundup: July

Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the garden, another garden pest comes along to distract me. Initial research indicated a Japanese beetle; further research suggests a Garden Chaffer. It moved on before I could check its belly for spots.

The Great Climbing Bean Race

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Above (Top) left: Bean 1 was still looking pathetic at the start of July, despite all the sun and rain. Bean 2 is climbing well.  Above right: Bean 3 was well on the way and Bean 4 was reluctant to twine to the horizontal cane and required some gentle persuasion. All beans have now received a second dose of chicken-poo pellets. 

By the 10th, Bean 1 (left, left) has flowers though it hasn’t climbed very far. Bean 2 (left, right) will need a horizontal cane shortly. Bean 3 (right, left) has started twining – with encouragement. Bean 4 (right, right) is now growing horizontally.

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By the 19th, Bean 1 has several flowers; Bean 2 has lost its growing tip (it will be interesting to see if this brings on more flowers); Bean 3 and 4 are both – reluctantly, and with clips – clinging to the horizontal canes. I want them to grow this way as last year they climbed over the arches and I had to use a stepladder to pick them.

20200719 (17) 20200719 (18)20200719 (19) 20200719 (20), Now, I have the beginnings of tiny beans – too tiny to take a decent photo – and the plants are doing their own thing scrambling ever upwards and decidedly NOT where I want them to go!

Peas

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I picked my first peas on 16th July – Boogie, in a corner of Raised Bed B –  enough for two and the pods for the compost.

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More Boogie, this time in pots. And I’ve just sown some Douce de Provence (maincrop). They are a month late according to the back of the packet, but up here, I am always 2 weeks behind those in the lower villages. (I’ve only just planted up my sweet peas).

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Several pickings later and the supply is dwindling, soon to stop altogether.

Courgettes and Squashes

No sign of the squashes, but plenty of courgettes

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And this is the first courgette I picked (teaspoon for size comparison). My friend, Pam, wrote this little ditty in celebration.

Oh Mrs O how does your garden grow?
With plenty of graft, fore and aft, and veg all in a row.
The spuds are sweet, there’ll be beans soon
But meanwhile here’s a courgette cuddling up with a spoon

And there are more to come – no sign of the yellow ones though.

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So far I have managed to steal them away before our slimy friends take a nibble or two.

Onions

At the start of the month, I harvested some of the onions I planted earlier in the year from sets bought at Home Bargains for 99p. To be fair, I probably could have bought twice the amount from the supermarket for half the price – and ready to eat – but that’s not the point.

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The white onions grew faster and larger than the red ones, but neither were exactly the large globes promised on the packet but that could be because I had them planted too close together. And they preferred the sunnier Raised Bed A.

Carrots

I emptied the first pot of carrots I sowed back in March/April. Sweet Imperator, multicolour carrots from one packet. To be honest – I don’t know why I bothered. They were pathetic. Tasted OK though – proper carrot flavour.

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Hopefully the other varieties I’ve sown will grow larger. Has anyone tried eating/cooking carrot tops?

I’m going to try growing some in the bags I had to buy for my extra potatoes; see if I can keep them going until Christmas.

Salads

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I’ve got some salad leaves and lettuce growing in hanging baskets to prolong the season. Eventually the ones in the raised bed will be overtaken by the tomato plants and decimated by the slimy ones, but if I sow another two baskets in August, I should be able to keep them going in the greenhouse.

Not sure which varieties these are. I just mixed what I had left that should be sown this year (and an out of date packet) and hoped for the best.

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Potting Shed

The battle against sawfly larvae goes on. First with an almost daily spray with soapy water. Second, by removing the top layer of compost before potting them up into 5 inch pots. I’ve lost one out of the twelve I put into 3 inch pots, and I still have some seedlings in a tray.

UPDATE: I now think it may be aphids. Soapy water is still my weapon of choice!

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Here, too, I have lettuce, and oriental salad mix growing.  The pots at the back contain Douce de Provence peas, and the front contain Leeks and Watercress. I’m late starting the leeks off (very late) but these self-watering propagators really do help with germination. I tend to drown seedlings; this way they get what they need.

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Greenhouse

These are my back-up brassicas, kept in the greenhouse and the door closed. But something has still managed a nibble or ten.

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This is my third attempt to grow Bunny Tail grasses. Looks as though this time is a success. And there is yet another tomato seedling.

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Now the Swift potatoes are ready to harvest, I’ve moved their bags into the greenhouse to allow the compost to dry out. I’m leaving the potatoes in the bags to stop them sprouting and turning green. (If they don’t get wet, they won’t rot).

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Front Border

A look at the front border (going from left to right, starting at the neighbour’s stone wall). Now the peonies and iris have gone, it’s time for astilbes, grasses and fuchsias, along with some (not enough) annuals, to shine.

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And a week later (spot the OTHER sunflower I never planted)

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Lavender Border

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I’ve had to trim the lavender as it was preventing me from getting into my car. But nothing went to waste as I tied the trimmings into bunches and hung them just inside the door to my Potting Shed, where the bees can enjoy it for a little while longer.

And I still need to do something with that wall – just as soon as I feel brave enough to go to The Range and see what colours they have available. Next door has painted all her lintels and windowsills in a deep purple. (Ours are magnolia, so that tells you how adventurous I am likely to be.)

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This is a bunch I picked a couple of weeks ago, now dried out and waiting for me to make a lavender bag for the wardrobe.

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Patio

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 The mixed pot I bought for £5 at the beginning of June continues to grow and develop. Begonias, buzy lizzies and petunias are the stars now. The dianthus continue, and there is even a sunflower (I hope it is a dwarf one – you can just see the stem). I wonder what else is going to pop up. Well worth the money (for charity) and a few plants I should be able to pot on and keep in the greenhouse until next year.

The cornflowers continue to provide a welcome spot of colour on the patio. A good colour combination with the yellow poached egg plants and fennel flowers.

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And, finally, a couple of nasturtium flowers appeared.

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Sedum Bed

This site seems to suit the sedums at the moment. Most are putting on new growth. Unfortunately, they don’t show up very well against the grit/gravel I used. When I finally brave the local garden centre, I might look out for chipped slate instead. Any other (cheaper) suggestions?

Help with identification would be gratefully received as these were rescues, helpfully labelled “mixed sedums”.

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I took cuttings from this one (below) last year, but it still prefers it’s original spot as it;s not growing as much as I’d hoped in the sedum bed. It’s been in this spot since before we moved in (1987).

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Plant swaps

“It is better to give than to receive”

A visit to the plant graveyard (back of the garage, little rain, some sun) revealed where my missing plant pots went. I picked out four small peonies and six crocosmia that, if memory serves, have been in these small pots for five years. And there are some iris plants – again they’ve been in a pot (with only the compost that remained on their roots) for five years – and they still flowered. The remainder of the pots contain weeds – including bindweed, so the contents will go in a bag to take to the recycling. I will recycle the compost but only in pots.

20200704 (4) 20200704 (5)20200704 (10)As my brother has new borders to fill, he will take them off my hands. I’ve added in a large clump of Mexican Feather Grass which I’ve been promising, and there will be some proper-sized peonies heading his way when I reduce the numbers (again) in the front border.

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4th July 2019

I removed half the peonies last year – they do tend to take over and last for such a short time (even shorter this year) – and replaced them with fuchsias. But I wouldn’t get rid of them completely. So that’s a job on the To Do list for September.

I’ll keep and divide the pink Sarah Bernhadt, but remove at least two of the deep pink, probably three – I do have three or four of these in the Shady Border on the Patio.

Weather

Quite pleasant for the first week after the heat of June. Then rain for the second week; that horrible fine drizzly misty rain that gets everywhere. And in between – wind, lots of wind. In fact the wind doesn’t know which way to blow some days. And the promised heatwave arrived yesterday, after a rather murky start.

I’ve always like this quote from the writer Bill Bryson, which sums up our Welsh weather perfectly:

“I have a small tattered clipping that I sometimes carry with me and pull out for purposes of private amusement. It’s a weather forecast from the Western Daily Mail and it says, in toto: ‘Outlook: Dry and warm, but cooler with some rain.’ 

Bill Bryson
— 1995  Notes from a Small Island.

 

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