Hello July, I hope you have better weather in store for us than your neighbour June. The end of June raged out in most of the country with only the good people of the east escaping those freak weather conditions. There were hailstones as big as golf balls raining down in the Midlands and floods swept away most of the North West. It was frustrating for me as a gardener watching the clear blue skies over Wimbledon and just sitting there with my soggy bowl of strawberries picked from my sodden allotments.
The only encouragement I take for the rest of the summer is that historically July has the highest average temperature of any month and August boasts the record for the highest temperature recorded on any single day. So as the song says ‘things can only get better.’ My strawberries have been not as productive as usual with the lack of sunshine and some falling to mould before turning red. These are quickly gathered before collecting the juicy red ones to prevent this disease spreading to the rest of the crop. Still, the ones that have escaped the attention of the slugs have that unique flavour that can only come from the being harvested and eaten the same day.
The crop is, however, coming to the end of its relatively short career and is actively taking on the role of parent. From the plant itself there are lots of strange runners being sent in all directions. At the end of these runners are forming the new generation so as soon as a little plant is formed I sink a three inch pot of compost into the ground and peg this new baby into this compost. Before long a new plant will sprout roots and can be severed from its parent to produce a new plant for free. So there I have a new generation to create another strawberry bed for my future supply of these red berries. I never keep my strawberries for more than three years as the productivity decrease and the berries get smaller so these new plants will replace them for nothing.
My potato harvest for the last four weeks has been coming from the crop that I planted way back in February in my drums in the greenhouse. These are now all gone! So it was time to go exploring and find what lay beneath those tall green haulms out on the plot. There is always something exciting about plunging that garden fork into the soil near these haulms and lifting it clear of the soil and a cascade of white pebbles are seen dropping from its roots. Yes, there were plenty of good potatoes hidden there so no worries about buying potatoes in our household until well into next year.
So at last my basket is getting fuller and fuller as a steady, long awaited supply of fresh vegetables come on stream and there is much happiness in our house as the full flavour returns to the daily meals and my cash stays in my pocket.
I dread going along to local gardening shows as I go with a list of things I need but I am soon sucked in by gadgets that are demonstrated to save me time and money. I spend my money and these sharpeners that will make my knife super sharp like new and a gadget that will get weeds from between my plants without damaging them. These demonstrators make it all look so simple and I stand there in awe and I am soon walking away with one of the 'must have' gadgets. These never seem to work as effectively for me and soon join the growing mass of these I have accumulated in my shed.
I was reading an interesting article last week about snail poachers! Apparently there are Roman snails present in Surrey which are on the verge of extinction as they are being found and shipped off the France to satisfy the demand for this delicacy. Again it is said that the French eat 700 million snails a year - I hope I can create an interest in Welsh snails to meet this demand as this year my plot seems that it could meet this demand alone. What a boost it would be to controlling this munching pest if it would satisfy my culinary needs along with all my vegetables.
Read gardening expert Martyn Cox's tips for controlling slugs and snails.
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