Here Comes Summer?

At last a day without rain today – and the forecasters predict more to come, at least in the short term. But is this summer? Who can tell, but a few days without rain and a bit of sun would be welcome in the garden.

So, how are things going? Well the tomatoes are mostly ok, although the ones outside the front of the greenhouse in the raised bed are just about coping. All the others (outside the kitchen and alongside the greenhouse) are doing fine and even have small tomatoes. Inside the greenhouse the plants have grown to the point where I’ve pinched out the tops since they have enough trusses. Just looking at the fruit today I could see that one of them was just starting to ripen, so by next weekend there may even be some ripe if the sun continues.

The peppers are coming on as well flowering at least and possibly some set.

Elsewhere, harvesting broad beans and mangetout peas is in full swing, although the broad beans are just about finished now after several good meals with them (today ‘Broad Bean and Chicken Pilau’, from a Sophie Grigson recipe), the mangetout are still producing though. One thing that is strange is there are very few blackfly around this year despite all the damp conditions, which flies in the face of normal experience – there are some on the dwarf plants, but none on the full size plants – but I’m not complaining.

The french beans are in full flower, and some are set already so they should be available in a couple of weeks. The climbing beans have climbed to over 2m and are just coming into flower.

The courgettes have produced enough to go with meals the last couple of weekends (and this), but one of the two plants looks distinctly unwell now. I just planted the replacement cucumber plants today and hopefully they will survive if the weather stays warm.

THe abundance of slugs and snails have shown their presence by eating two of the kale plants (or at least the leaves) – but the others look to be coping – just. The row of mangetout peas clearly suffered from some slug attention but are now starting to climb their support sticks.

The crops of ‘green manure’ are big enough to dig in now so that’s a job for the next couple of days – weather permitting.

One by-product of the rain has been the rate of growth in the hedges and the lawn – and finding the time between the rain showers to cut them and it’s fair to say that I’ve not been keeping up with the hedges, so hopefully the fine weather this week will allow me to catch up.

The birds are still going through the seed like no tomorrow, and I’ve evicted two squirrels since the last post, only to find another trying to steal peanuts this morning – so out goes the trap again. One major wildlife development is encouraging though – I’ve encouraged a patch of nettles at the bottom of the garden for several years, at the cost to myself of some discomfort at times, in the hopes that it would help the butterfly population as several species rely on nettles for their food source. A couple of weeks ago I noticed a dozen or more black caterpillars, which then spread out and munched their way to about twice the size – and I’ve identified them asas Peacock butterfly caterpillars – they have disappeared now, probably turned into chrysalises. Anyway, considering that this year has been so bad for butterflies it’s very good to feel I’ve helped in a small way.

Photos:

Broad bean harvest

Broad bean harvest

Peacock? caterpillars

Peacock? caterpillars

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