JOHN STOA: Summer was late to start but the garden has burst into growth

John tying up the broad beans
John tying up the broad beans

Summer was late to start, and the rain was never far away, but things turn round, the summer returns and the garden just bursts into growth with flowers everywhere.

June may have finished with the sun shining, but it will go down as a very wet month. Although this resulted in a flush of growth on all crops, and also gave the weeds a huge boost, so it was out with the hoe to catch up before those weeds got too big.

Then numerous rows of young seedlings needed thinning out. Swedes, Golden ball turnips, lettuce, spring onions, dwarf French beans, beetroot and parsnips all got their final thinning.

Previous ideas for intercropping had mixed results.

Peony Doreen in 2019

Chrysanthemums inter planted amongst young cabbages took off quickly, but my nets were not tall enough for both crops so the chrysanthemums got replanted elsewhere.

They never looked back as the good growing weather was in their favour.

Another block of chrysanthemums had lettuce Lollo Rossa planted in between the plants and this has worked a treat, as the lettuce are low growing and do not affect the chrysanthemums. I have been cutting the lettuce before they get too big.

However another batch of lettuce and spring onions were planted in between rows of broad beans when the bean plants were very small, but the beans took off at a great pace and now I cannot even see the salads. You win some, you lose some but you keep trying.

Grandad helping Scarlet plant her pumpkins

Onion Hybound grown from seed sown in mid February have put on superb growth with the warm weather and plenty rain, and no sign of white rot.

Potatoes however are mixed.

My late and maincrop varieties have all been flowering since mid June, but as yet there are no flowers on my earlies. I started lifting a few shaws of first early Casa Blanca.

This is a salad variety so no huge spuds, but enough for two wee Scots folk who are no into huge platefuls.

Young parsnips

Potato Mayan Gold has developed some strange affliction.

Plants are dying back like in drought but soil is moist and it does not look like blight or blackleg. Afraid this one beats me.

Peas and beans all needed supports and protection from pigeons and slugs. Slugs were also a problem with strawberries, and they just love marigolds, and I think they have been holding meetings under my rhubarb leaves.

Weather was good for planting sweet corn, pumpkins, courgettes, and a second crop of cabbages and cauliflowers.

Plants potted up for the allotments open day

Harvesting has started with strawberries, salads, potatoes and kale and Anna was determined to lift a few of my Golden Ball turnips, but I think they will benefit from another week’s growth.

Strawberries brought on early with low polythene tunnels are now all finished so the old leaves will get cut down and removed together with the protective straw.

All good stuff for the compost heap.

Gooseberries are absolutely laden with crop bending branches down onto the ground so they will need a layer of straw to prevent soil splashing onto the fruit.

Good crop of figs

No sign this year of any sawfly damage. Blackcurrants, bramble Helen, Chokeberry, saskatoons and raspberries are all looking great and heavy with potential crops.

Last year’s hot summer appears to have ripened up the shoots on apples, and pears so this year they all had masses of flowers, but much more than the tree could cope with so the June drop (and it came in June this year) was heavy but enough fruitlets were left for a good crop, though Bramley and Falstaff are lighter than normal.

Roses are starting off the year in great form. Vigour is very strong and all bushes a good foot higher than last year with large flowers in abundance.

Chrysanthemums underplanted with lettuce

Mildew has been a problem on climbers due to the dry weather early on in the year, and greenfly have been in plague proportions.

Wee jobs to do this week

June has been a busy time with potting up of rooted figs, and grape vines from cuttings, saskatoons from layers, geraniums from cuttings, strawberry Flamenco (an autumn fruiting variety) from runners and many other plants for the City Road Allotments Open Day at end of July.

Anna looking after the flowers

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