Monday, July 25

We pick, pick, pick

We had a couple of days away last week so our first harvest of the week was on Wednesday. 
20 July
As it was very hot we spent all the time picking and watering. We are still picking strawberries. Cupid and Fenella are still providing a few berries but are coming to an end although Cupid is bearing one or two new flowers. The later Malwina still has fruits to ripen. The Tulameen raspberries which were unaffected by the mystery death of half of our Glen Ample canes are now producing lots of fruit and we are managing to share the tayberry with the blackbirds.

We have picked the first young leaves of spinach and the first baby turnip.

We are lifting autumn onions as we need them but the summer onions and shallots look as though they will soon be dying back.
22 July
More berries were picked on Friday. It doesn't seem to have been a good year for blackcurrants and gooseberries. There are nothing like as many blackcurrants and the fruits of both are much smaller than usual. Luckily the jostaberries are helping to full the gap that they have left. 

Whilst picking the jostaberries the strong strawberry aroma attracted my attention to a few old, straggly alpine strawberry plants which were determinedly producing a few fruits. These were duly picked. New alpine strawberry plants were planted this year which will hopefully take over production next year.
I picked a few whitecurrants but these too were very small and hardly worth the effort of picking. To be honest this isn't unusual as they never seem to produce good fruit - maybe a hard prune is called for.
On the other hand the blueberries are providing the best harvest that we have had from them. Having decided to cover them this year we have been able to leave them on the plant unmolested to develop fully.
The sweet peas are coming on stream now and so far I am pleased with the colours that I chose.
The posy on the right also includes one or two cornflowers as the annual flower bed is now starting to produce cutting material, as well as a nectar bay for the pollinators.
I seem to have ended up with brighter colours this year. Maybe the pastels are just slower to flower.
Dead heading has been added to my regular allotment tasks.
23 July
We dug the first root of another trial early potato - Vivaldi - which like its predecessors passed the taste test with flying colours.
The peas are now starting to fill out and be ready to harvest. We picked just enough for dinner.
The Witkiem Manita broad beans have almost finished but the more diminutive Robin Hood beans  - on the right of the photo below -have stepped in to fill the breach.
After what we thought was a very 'iffy' start the climbing beans are  now going strong and we had a few Cobra - climbing French beans - to kick off the production line.

Today I am linking to Harvest Monday over at Dave's blog  Our Happy Acres

Saturday, July 23

Welcome to the jungle

Let's take advantage of the cooler conditions to explore inside the garden greenhouse.
The net is an attempt at keeping the birds out,
When you enter our garden greenhouse at the moment you could be forgiven for imagining that you have been transported into a jungle. The plants have thrived in the recent heat despite us being away for the two hottest days of the year.
The tomatoes are setting fruit.
The mini cucumbers are providing a constant supply of fresh fruits.
The plants are exploring freely.
The peppers and aubergines haven't set fruit yet but they are flowering.
I wasn't as successful at pollinating the peach and nectarine as I was the apricot. We have just one peach and two nectarines but will they ripen?
There are immature bunches of grapes dripping from above.
The are some ornamentals too. This year I fancied growing some coleus from seed - something that I haven't done for a while.
Climbing up the canes below are a thunbergia also grown from seed and self sown ipomoea or morning glory - will they flower? 

Wednesday, July 20

Just Flowers

Monday, July 18

Winas anmd Losers

I decided to lift the garlic last week. The foliage was dead and no more growing would be forthcoming. I had a feeling that the harvest would be poor and I was 100% correct.
The bulbs were pathetic specimens. They have divided into cloves and are probably usable. We haven't really ever had a major success with garlic in the past and I am considering pulling the plug on our forays into garlic growing.
11 July
Despite loosing about a quarter of our raspberry canes we are collecting a steady supply of raspberries. 
We picked more Malwina strawberries which confirmed that the flavour is superb. Everything that I have read about this variety uses words like 'flavoursome' in the description.  It would have been a shame to add anything to the bowls of fruit that we enjoyed as a dessert.
Just add a spoon
A criticism is that the berries are a too dark red but we like the colour. Malwina is a late variety so the fruit is just coming on stream. For this reason and the flavour, I will try to root some runners to produce plants to replace the dead  or struggling Vibrant plants which are not living up to their name.
12 July
Fenella and Cupid continue to crop although the berries are smaller and coming to an end.

We are braving the thorns of the tayberry and picking a few fruits. The problem is that the new canes tend to cover the fruiting canes despite my best efforts to prevent this. Plucking fruit often requires the hand to be plunged into a tangle of vicious thorns.

The first two of what I hope will be a constant supply of Mini Munch cucumbers were ready for harvesting. I am refraining from photographing every fruit. We also have a regular supply of fresh salad leaves and herbs that never make it to our harvest photo call.
13 July
We found a head of cauliflower that both we and the slugs had missed. Many of the heads had been spoiled by slugs browsing the flower heads. We only just beat a slug to this one as I spotted one individual about to tuck in.
At the beginning of the week we picked our first courgette. The fruits seem much slower to develop at present. Usually the tiny fruits become monsters as soon as you turn your back.

Later in the week we picked more so maybe the glut is beginning - in anticipation I have added my list of courgette recipes to the blog sidebar. Strangely the yellow variety has lots of immature fruits that seem reluctant to swell although by the end of the week we did manage to harvest two yellow courgettes.

Our purple Glencoe raspberry has been added to our harvest of berries.

Our Glencoe produces plenty of tasty berries but these are always smaller than we imagine that they should be. Does anyone else grow Glencoe or the black raspberry- Jewel that I am thinking of adding to our collection?
16 July
We picked the first punnet of jostaberries.
We thought that the wood pigeons had stolen all the berries as they seem partial to them. Many of the branches of the bushes are broken under the weight of the wood pigeons fumbling about. The berries we harvest are in positions that the pigeons can't reach so at least we have a share.

We have also started picking red gooseberries.
We had the first small picking of mangetouts which is a bonus considering the state of the plants.
We dug one row of the Casablanca potatoes and made a late sowing of peas in the vacated spot. Last year our late sowing came to nothing but we had nothing to lose as the seeds would have gone to waste any way. At worst the plants will give the soil a nitrogen boost.
17 July
We stripped as many broad beans as were ready from the first lot of plants. These have been frozen.

Finally I picked the first of our sweet peas - not enough even to be called a posy but I am hoping that this is a sign that they are at last deciding to grow.

Today I am linking to Harvest Monday over at Dave's blog  Our Happy Acres

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Friday, July 15

Are the slugs allowing your hostas to grow?

We really like hostas but as everyone who grows them knows they are on the slug and snail list of most desirable delicacies. On a recent visit to Harlow Carr, hostas were one of the plants used in their slug deterrent testing area. 

Hosta leaves lose their appeal when turned into a mess of lacy, ragged leaves after being ravaged by what have to be one of (or should that be two of), the gardener's most hated garden pest.
Control of these destructive  creatures has to be one of the most discussed and written about topics amongst the gardening fraternity. For every solution that individual gardeners swear by there is someone who will assert that this hasn't worked for them.

2016 could very well be designated to be the year of the slug. The mild winter of 2015 followed by the cool, wet summer (so far - I live in hope of some improvement) of 2016 must have the slugs rubbing their antennae with glee.

We have, however, against all odds, so far, managed to keep some of our hostas relatively free of slug damage. The key word here is relatively.

One weapon in our arsenal has been a proprietary slug and snail deterrent.
We trialled this a couple of years ago and found that it did offer some protection if used regularly. It won't however, prevent damage completely. (Incidentally we sprayed the climbing beans with this when they were newly planted and I think it helped prevent them from annihilation.
All our hosta  plants have been sprayed regularly with some faring better than others so I have tried to analyse why that is the case.
Most of our hostas are planted in pots that are arranged along the raised edge of our garden pond. As can be seen above we are not purests and some plants share a pot with a different variety. The pot of hostas in this photo had no damage at all. On one side it has the pond and to the other side the pebble garden with its gritty soil and pebble mulch. Maybe the location is less hospitable to slugs and snails.
The plant above has slight damage to some leaves at the back on the left of the plant where it touches a nearby fern so does the fern provide an access point?
The hosta above is also close to the ferns and also has some slight damage to the edges of the leaves. Any slugs and snails that have gained access to the plants seem to have only had a taster so it would seem that the spray has worked in making the leaves less palatable.
The two plants above on the right of the above photo, are also positioned between a pebble garden and the pond. They have superficial damage to the leaves which are touching the pond plant at the back.

The plant on the left has a little more damage to the leaves. I wonder whether the proximity to the lawn is of relevance?
The last plant along the pond edge is a mystery. These are the hostas with the toughest leaves that are supposedly less attractive to slugs but they have the worst damage of the 'pond' hostas.  They are touching a pond plant and also have lawn to one side and paved patio to the other so is access easier or does the repellent run off the smoother leaves more readily.
Some of the damage isn't altogether typical of slug damage so is something else at work here too?

To be honest the rest of the hostas are really, "What shall we do with these?" plants. They are ones left over when we split and repotted the main plants but that we couldn't bring ourselves to discard. As such they are not in prime positions and maybe our spraying regime isn't as rigorous as for the main plants.
These plants have significantly more damage and are in less isolated positions.
The one below is enormous and situated in the middle of a very full border making spraying all the leaves difficult. Despite that the leaves are nibbled rather than devastated.
In previous, less mollusc friendly years, unprotected hosta leaves have been shredded before the plants have reached flowering stage - so much so that we have considered abandoning growing them completely. I did try to find photographs but obviously neither of us felt the urge to record the devastation.

Then there is another factor to take into account. We know that some frogs have lingered in the pond, so are these helping by having nightly forages amongst the foliage around the pond?
I know that Jessica at Rusty Duck is using a garlic spray on her hostas to try and ward off slugs but what do others find effective to keep slugs at bay? (Not necessarily only on hostas).