July, what an interesting month you’ve been.
Vegetables have been slow coming this year, what with the slugs that thwarted my early sowings & the lack of rain. There are pickings from our little vegetable garden every day now. Its always a thrill to nip down the garden for something fresh. Right now runner beans, spinach & salad leaves. In a couple of weeks there’ll be more variety.
Watering the garden & all those little tasks are done first thing, & most meals have been eaten in the garden at the weekend, it’s such a different lifestyle for us, & one that I hope carry’s on for as long as possible.
Runner beans quickly reached the top of their poles this year, I’ve pinched out the tops of each plant to stop them getting top-heavy. I want them to put their energy into growing beans rather than loads of leaves. Picking them regularly to keep the beans coming.
Tomatoes in the greenhouse need watering every day, sluicing water on the floor in the middle of a hot day does a remarkably good job at cooling the temperature in there. Watering & pinching out those little side-shoots that grow between the main stem & leaf-stems is just about all the attention they need, along with a feed of liquid tomato fertiliser, encouraging them to produce plenty of tomatoes.
I’ve sown more beetroot seeds directly into one of the raised beds, it’s one of my favourite summer vegetables. I steam it & eat it cold with a dollop of creme-fraiche or cream cheese on top.
I’ve sown more salad leaves too. They don’t germinate well in hot weather, have you got any tips for growing salad in hot weather? I read somewhere that an evening sowing gives them a better chance of germinating, so thats worth trying.
The Jostaberries have all been picked, these are a delicious cross between blackcurrents & gooseberries. I took the opportunity to prune the shrub, it has become huge, though it’ll need another prune in winter, it’s a small price to pay for delicious fruit.
Apparently they’re not suited to commercial, mechanical harvesting, so you won’t find them in the shops, which is all the more reason to grow them.
This year its been easy to dry out the garlic, its an essential process to keep it for as long as possible during autumn & into winter.
Fresh herbs are one of the joys of summer. They all need regular snipping to keep new shoots growing,the tastiest part of the plant.
Cabbage white butterflies have been active, despite the netting, & laid eggs in the under-side of my kale leaves. Blackfly on runner-beans are easier to spot, & easy to wash off with a jet of water from the hosepipe.
Watering is essential not only to keep vegetables growing, but also to stop them bolting, that reaction to lack of water which makes them produce seed when their days are numbered. The last post here was about watering, & how to conserve water & time, both precious commodities.
The rest of the garden is dry as a bone, most of the soil has been topped up with a mulch of soil-improver, but at least twice as much would have been ideal.
Don’t waste water on the lawn, ours has recovered after the heavy rain-shower last week. Grass is such a tough little plant despite its tiny stature, & always responds to rain, even after a long, dry spell of hot weather.
The roses were lovely while they lasted, but gave up flowering much earlier than usual this year.
I’ve removed spent flowers from Penstemons, & any other flowers that are over, & sweet peas need picking regularly so they don’t give up flowering.
Most plants look as if they’ve slowed down, & are conserving their energy. It’s a sensible thing to do in a hot summer & I’ve followed their example. The best thing to do in the garden in July is enjoy it as much as you can.
Before I go, let me tell you about The Circus Gardener, he writes a blog described as
‘seasonal vegetarian cooking with a side-line of food politics’
If you’ve been over-run with a glut of vegetables & need new ways of cooking them, or feel like trying some new vegetarian or vegan recipes, this is the place to look. Stir-fried green beans with crispy shallots is my new favourite way to cook runner beans.
I’m always a bit reluctant to go away in July & leave the garden to itself, but the Port Eliot Festival is too tempting, so we’re off to Cornwall for a few days. I’ll post some photos on Instagram, the gardens are rather lovely. Here’s the link if you fancy seeing what its like. Happily there’ll be someone here to keep an eye on the garden.
all photos: Jill Anderson.