At least one crop has made the most of the wet spring/summer: the leeks. Possibly one of the only crops that the slugs haven’t devastated (they even muched the chillies!), the leeks went out a few months ago (the last box of tiddlers only went out a couple of week ago though), all 9 rows of them, and many are looking nearly ready for harvest as baby leeks (good news for the chefs). It’s a good morale-boost to see them. Apart from a patch of annoying couch grass and few thistles, they’ve been surprisingly weed-free. I don’t think that has anything to do with my skillful management though: although I did cultivate the ground at a good time, wheelhoed them when it was dry enough, and have just given them a quick handweed, there wasn’t the mass of groundsel, chickweed, fat hen and redshank that I was expecting. I have a feeling that the slugs have probably got something to do with that, so maybe I shouuld feel grateful. Mind you, I’d rather have had more crops and more weeding to do than no crops and less weeds. Next year, next year.
Time to celebrate: things are actually growing, hurrah! The tomatoes especially are really going for it now; I’ve been sideshooting and deleafing the lower leaves every week for the last month or so, so keep the moisture levels down and so keep blight at bay, and also to let as much light as possible reach the set fruit, so they ripen well. The yellow Golden Queen and cherry Gardener’s Delight were the first, with the larger beefsteaks like Berner Rose, Black Russian and Marmande are taking a bit longer – but they really taste like summer! Best enjoyed still warm, with a leaf of basil. And we’ve also been promised another Indian Summer in September/October, so maybe the few plants out in the field that have survived this far will do well…
Of the 300+ mixed sunflowers I planted out in spring, 8 have survived the slugs. Not great odds really (better than the celeriac, carrots and parsnips though, where I have 0/10,000s), but all 8 are of the variety ‘Chocolate’, and look good enough to eat. The green manure of red clover and lucerne is growing away strongly now underneath them, so I’m just keeping the sunflowers as a Yah Boo, Sucks To You defiance messasge against the slugs. Fight. Win!
I think I’ve had it bad: at least I’m not a bee. The poor blighters aren’t enjoying these showers either – as soon as there’s a break in the clouds, they’re back out foraging, both bumblees and honeybees. The butterflies are in the same boat (that would be a light, fluttery boat I suppose, any more showers and it might come to that), plus the lacewings and myriad other wildlife trying to make the most of the food available in the summer, to keep them going in winter. At least my borage, calendula and nasturtiums are all very close together, so it’s easy for them to get their fill here.
The herb beds with the curled parsely and oregano that are now flowering are also humming with life; and encouraging bees and butterflies into the polytunnels next door to pollinate the sweet peas, tomato, pepper, aubergine and cucumber flowers. It does the soul good to see them all getting a good meal anyway.