Rain Stops Play

Don’t worry, it’s not another whinge, just reportage: not much is happening outside since the planting-out fest last week, just a few more lettuces gone out, and a couple of trays of sunflowers. So with the weather doing it’s British summer thing now, I’m just leaving stuff to grow while keeping an eye on the weeds (had a fun thistle-pull on Wednesday, filling several wheelbarrows with the blighters): the brassicas and carrots are netted so hopefully they’ll be safe. The squash, courgettes and sweetcorn aren’t, but I’m hoping the weather doesn’t get too cold for them. And the trefoil looks like it’s starting to germinate in this rain too, which is good news.

Debris kindly left by the pesky mice

So it’s all about the polytunnels at the mo: I side-shooted the tomatoes for the first time at the beginning of the week, which is always an exciting job as it hints at the summer crop to come – and stains your hands dark green and makes you smell of tomatoes for a few days. There’s not too much to sow now either: a few more herbs and flowers, some PSB and an extra tray of nero kale just in case there’s room, plus lettuce every fortnight. I did try sowing more sunflowers, but sadly the mice had other ideas. They’re even after the basil seeds now, which is very annoying. Maybe if I put an owl box up somewhere that might help: ah well, with all this rain, I’ve got plenty of times to think up deadly rodent schemes. Watch out, Mickey…

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Back In The Groove

Great, pretty much everything is now in that should be, hurrah! So we’re back on track, and now the ground has had a good watering too, so let’s go! The squash, courgettes and pumpkins are in (and needed a brief watering before this rain arrived), and I’ve liberally sprinkled yellow trefoil seeds around these patches, plus the sweetcorn and runner beans: undersowing in this way will mean that these legumes will grow underneath the crops, so when the crops have finished at the end of the season, the trefoil will flourish and fix nitrogen in the soil, while also supressing weeds. I tried this last year and it did a pretty good job; the only management it needs before next year is a mow or strim a few times to keep it low and prevent it from smothering the crops.

I’ve squeezed in a few more lettuces outside now too that have been coming on well in the module tunnel – many varieties again have been poor like last year, with really bad germination, apart from my beloved Marvel of 4 Seasons, a red/green butterhead. I’m just about to put some sunflowers outside too now that a little line of space has opened up between the carrots/parsnip/celeriac etc patch, and the brassicas. The carroty patch also includes a line of caraway and a line of Hamburg parsley root as an experiment, plus some plain parsley and coriander (perennial herbs are between the poytunnels in permanent beds).

The tomatoes are now growing well in the tunnel, along with the aubergines and peppers that were big enough/lucky enough to escape the slugs that still seem to be hanging around there under the Mypex. And in the other tunnel, I’ve been picking radishes and rocket for a couple of weeks, and the pea shoots, spinach and beetroot that I redrilled are now showing well. Also it won’t be long before the first lot of spring onions are ready, and the leeks will need to be transplanted before the end of the month. Then it’s all go!