Sunday 1st August 2021 – The ups and downs of gardening in the UK!

Being British we love to talk about the weather, it’s just one of those things we do. Many of us are never happy whatever the weather brings. It’s either too cold (but it’s the winter so what do you expect, put a few extra layers on), or too hot (again it’s the summer and that’s what happens, drink something cold and buy a fan). It rains when people don’t want it to (I must admit sometimes when it pours and I’m working I do get cross but I can’t do anything about it), and then sometimes it gets very windy (we live on a small island that is right next to the Atlantic ocean so it’s gonna happen). Stop complaining about the weather all the time and just live your life and enjoy your life. You only get one life so make the most of it and stop moaning about something that really doesn’t effect you that much. Yes you might get wet when it rains or sweaty when it’s hot, but there is always someone worse off that you. Ok so moan over, here’s what I got up to today and how the weather has effected my plants.

Last summer was long, hot and dry, which was perfect for certain veggies but not so great for others. This summer has been humid and damp so the veggies that were happy last year are not so happy this year and vice versa.

Now that the tops of my Exhibition onions have now drooped over they are ready to harvest. These I sowed from seed in my greenhouses in January/February time I think. Yes it was very cold, but I put on loads of layers and out I went. Getting outside in all weathers is very good for your mental health and immune system. Nothing worse than being stuck inside all the time that’s why you get sniffles. No one in our house (and there are 5 adults) has had any sort of cold or sore throat for nearly 3 years now. I’m putting that down to fresh air, be it cold or not.

So back to the onions. I put on my very sexy pair of waterproof waders. Mark said I look like Mario from Super Mario. I suppose I do as I had my pink cap on as well. The onions came up fairly easily, some needed a little help with a trowel. I shook much of the soil from the bottom and trimmed off some of the leaves and then put 6 in a tray. I also removed any weeds that were growing between them, so the patch of soil is now clear and empty, Might plant a few more lettuce there now.

This video was from a couple of years ago and therefore weren’t the onions I sowed this year, but the process of harvesting is exactly the same.

Once I’d harvested them all, I put the trays in one of my greenhouses so they can dry for about 6 weeks before I store them. You can use them straight away, but if you store them straight away they’ll go mouldy and rot. Each Christmas our postman is given a sack of onions from the local farmer, which he gives to me as they don’t eat them in his house (don’t ask me why). I’ve got about half a dozen left from that sack and with all the onions I’ve harvested in the last week they should keep us going until he gets another sack this Christmas. Brilliant, not had to buy onions for a year!

It’s difficult to see the size, but apart from the odd one or two that are fairly small, most are the size of my hand.

The various fruits and veggies in the greenhouses are doing ok. The Okra is just starting to flower. The first of the aubergines has just started to appear, there are loads of flowers so hopefully more fruits soon. I have about half a dozen melon fruits, all various sizes with the larges about the size of a tennis ball. And the tomatoes are starting to ripen, although not as well as last year.

Gardening is full of ups and downs, depending what the weather is like, depends how various plants do. Some like rain, others do not. The weather this summer has be warm, wet and humid, great because I don’t have to water often, but this spells disaster for tomatoes growing outside. It looks like practically every one of my outside tomato plants has got blight!

It’s very sad as they were full of flowers and loads of little green fruits were just about to grow. There’s nothing you can do to save a tomato plant when it has blight. You can’t save it. You just have to pull it up, remove any fruits that fall to the ground, and either burn it or throw it away. Under no circumstances put it on your compost heap, because this will make the virus spread throughout the compost and when you spread the compost on the ground it will put the virus everywhere. Mine have gone in the garden waste bin and will be taken away and burnt.

You’ll notice brown markings firstly on the stems, they look like a light coloured bruise and then get darker. Within a couple of days more patches will appear on the trusses where your tomatoes are growing and the leaves will get blotches on them and curl up. Before you know it the tops of any tomatoes will go brown and wrinkly. If you notice blight on one plants and remove it immediately you may stop it from spreading to the other plants, but check each plant every day and remove any infected ones.

If you have any tomatoes that are not effected then take them off the plant and put them on a metal tray and cover with a tea towel. They will slowly turn red, but make sure you check them twice a week and if any get brown patches on them get rid of them.

I’ll have to think of another plan for next year as the ones in the greenhouses aren’t doing that well this year either.

The same Blight virus can pass to potatoes as well, so make sure you don’t plant either in that space for at least a year. Other veggies like brassicas, cucurbits or alliums will be fine.

But there is a silver lining to the sadness of the tomatoes, at least I can now reach the courgettes much easier. And they’re doing amazingly this year. They seem to think they’re marrows, but I can assure you they aren’t. These seem to be very happy with the humid wet weather, and I’m picking them and we’re eating loads for dinners. They’re great stuffed and even if they do get too big, they don’t get bitter like marrows can.

I like to cut them lengthways, scoop out the seeds, fill the void with mince, chicken, sausages, what ever you fancy really. Top with breadcrumbs and cheese, wrap in baking parchment and foil and roast in the oven for about an hour. Very tasty. Some I will cut up into chunks and freeze for later on.

The chickens came out for a quick play in the garden, and we had a little cuddle on the grass. Mark caught me talking to them, but I don’t mind. They both love a cuddle and will sit very happily on my legs and make happy noises. Soon the skies came over very grey and dark so I put them back in the run and not long after I got back inside the rains came. Not just a little sprinkle, but a full on downpour. The patio started to flood, and out the front of the house the water was running down the gravel drive. After about 15 minutes it stopped and the sun came out again.

Well that was this weekend, let’s see what mischief I can get up to this week after work. Another full week gardening in clients gardens, but that’s the way, aha, aha, I like it, aha, aha.

Have a fabulous week and Happy gardening!

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