Monthly Round Up: July

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To-Do List

Another tick on this year’s To-Do list. After the front path and drive (cleaned and sealed), the wall and gatepost (painted), I’ve had the paintbrush in my hand yet again – this time for the garage door! I can’t remember the last time I painted it but it’s been quite some time.

An up-and-over door isn’t the easiest thing to paint. I managed the top of the door (standing inside the garage with the door open) and the bottom of the door (standing outside on a stepladder), but I could only manage the lower half of each side due to lack of space inside the garage. It could probably do with a second coat (sometime) but it’s better than it was and I quite like the neutral brown colour.

I’ve still got to pain the white door surround. The paint here is flaking off so will need brushing and sanding, but that will be done at a later date, as will the door behind the brick arch (image 1 & 2). In the final image, the garage door looks blue, but it’s just the reflection of the sky in the wet (brown) paint – I haven’t “missed a bit”.

Leeks and other Onions

  1. Shallots have been dug up and were put in the Tiny Greenhouse to begin the drying out process. The variety is ‘Jermor’, a French shallot. You’d think with all the rain we had early on and again in May, that these would be huge – but they’re not. There was no point leaving them in the ground to grow as the tops had fallen over. I’ve strung them together to finish drying out. They look larger in the picture than they are in real life

2. I picked some onions from the allotment on 6 July – see here – and have been putting them outside in the sun to dry. By 25 July, the ‘Radar’ onions planted at home in pots appeared ready to harvest. Several had lost their foliage completely – taken as nesting material by birds perhaps. or chewed by pigeons? These are less that half the size of the allotment onions, but twice the size (mostlu) of the shallots.

3. Leeks and Spring Onions are growing well. I removed the hanging baskets (cat poop deterrents). Later, they were covered with netting as part of the brassica protection.

Brassicas

The Chinese cabbages in Raised Bed A were growing well and needed netting against the dreaded cabbage white butterfly. It was easier to try and net the whole bed – apart from the sweet peas, which will be encouraged to the outer edges of the arches. However my 2 x 5 metre net was just enough for the job. Hubby had deserted me due to a rain shower so it was a struggle getting the net tight enough to stop birds getting tangled. I put plenty of horticultural grit down (before I moved the mini-cloches) and hopefully both the taste of kale and the rough surface will deter slugs and snails.

I’v sown some Kale and Spring Cabbages to fill in any gaps, here and at the allotment. Kale can still be sown (though the packet says May-June outdoors) and the cabbage is July and August for harvesting March and April. Safer to start them off in the Potting Shed than feed the slugs and snails. And mid-month, I sowed ‘Snowball’ turnip seeds – which are showing no signs of germinating.

Jerusalem Artichokes

These are growing taller every day; I’m keeping them well-watered, mainly to weigh-down the pots as they could blow over in strong winds. Windy (and wet) weather was forecast for the first full week of the month, so I placed a 6 foot cane in each pot (hoping I didn’t squash a tuber) and wrapped twine around the upper third.

They are not expected to flower until autumn (Octoberish), but if they become too tall and the wind catches them, they can be cut down to a height of 4 feet to prevent ‘rocking’, though mine are in pots so it should prevent them falling over. But then I wouldn’t get to see the flowers! Perhaps trim every other stem and see how they go?

Ornamental Alliums

I dried out these ‘Purple Sensation’ seed heads in a sunny spot under cover outside, and now they are in a very tall narrow vase indoors.

Radish

I finally grew some! Sadly, I enjoyed only the lower half of three radishes, the slimy ones are the top half. I have one more chance at edible radish – there are some in a hanging pot on the trellis fence. I’m not hopeful though.

Cucumbers etc

Two each of my cucumber ‘Crystal Lemon’ and cucamelon ‘Mexican Gherkin’ have survived and are growing. By the final Sunday of the month, it was time to put these into much larger pots. The cucamelons went outside to scramble up the chicken wire support recycled from the perennial sweetpeas.

The cucumbers remain in the Potting Shed (no room in the Tiny Greenhouse) in a tray filled with gravel and water (and they do use an awful lot of water). If we have another heatwave, there is a chance they will produce a couple of cucumbers.

Butternut Squash

I planted this single survivor into Raised Bed B once I’d removed the shallots on 1 July; not quite a week later it’s still alive and growing. By the last week of July, the flower had died back so hopefully a fruit may appear (and there’s a second flower).

Peas and Beans

The Carouby de Mausanne mange tout peas had only just started to get going properly by the middle of the month. Pods were intermittent – by the time there were enough for a decent portion each, many were too large and very stringy. Rather than soldier on with them, I pulled the whole lot out and have utilised the space for salad crops instead. I have sown some ‘Serge’ pea shoots in a tray in the Potting Shed.

The climbing beans . . . aren’t! Or not much. I have three plants, one has beans but is only 6 inches tall, the other two have no beans – or flowers – but are ever-so-slowly climbing. Luckily we don’t want too many beans. There will be no repeat of last year’s filling the freezer only to cook them and throw them away; or the previous year’s attempt to preserve them by salting (they went mouldy). Next year it will be plain old peas all the way!

Sweet Peas

Those on the arch (‘Cupani’) are still flowering well, though some of the leaves have turned grey. The perennial sweet peas were coming to an end, so I’ve removed all the foliage and put the pot in a shady place to recuperate.

Salads

I’ve sown a mixture of salad bowl, red round lettuce, and green round lettuce seeds in Raised Bed B (in place of the radish), and planted up two red-veined sorrel from the pots I’ve been using since March, in the hope that it rejuvenates them and they start producing their delicious lemony leaves again. As – yet again – NO beetroot have put in an appearance, I have re-sown that space with rocket and spinach.

As at 25 July (and again on 30 July), there was little sign of any seeds germinating – due, I suspect, to the hot weather.

So far, this year has been poor for the leafy salad and brassica crops – other than the red-veined sorrel- for the climbing beans and peas. Everything started late and has been knocked about by the extremes of hot and dry or cool and wet weather, yet it seems ideal for the butternut squash and cucamelons which are – at least – growing this year. I expect it would have been good for courgettes, but I’m not growing them either after last year’s “Poison Courgettes” scare. There’s not a sign of the salad leaves, rocket or spinach I sowed. No beetroot either. Chard – zilch. Radish – Hah!!

Monty Don (Gardener’s World) says now is the time to plant parsley outside – I’ve got nothing to lose by having a go, and a space opening up where the single red cos lettuce has bolted.