We are now just passed the middle of the middle of summer. Although strangely enough the weather in the first half of summer is always a bit rubbish and the second half is generally much more settled. But we tend to get it all wrong – the holidays are in the first half and the kids go back to school in the second… But anyway, finally all the holiday things are behind us – there are no more festive occasions to mark in grand style and we have gently fallen back into the ebb and flow of normal life again.
But not without one last camping session. Don’t get me wrong, because I really did enjoy myself, but I’m not sure I’m a camping kind of girl. Going to bed in a cold and slightly damp tent, with nothing more than a millimetre of fabric separating you from whatever is roaming about outside… in the dark! Not to mention sleeping on an airbed that isn’t inflated correctly, then waking up to a searing heat so intense it drives you from the tent in the early hours that you’d never normally see. But in order to get out of the tent you have to crawl on your hands and knees in a most undignified fashion as there is no standing room. Yeah, not sure camping is my thing…
But we’re back now, doing life in the ordinary way. I’ve set about restoring order in the garden, not that there has been much to restore, this season the garden is in a good place and I’m grateful for that. So I can rightly stand with my hands on my hips and look at the garden and try and find out what it is trying to tell me, things I should really do differently next season to improve the garden and all that grow in it.
Firstly – once again, some vile creature stripped my popcorn. I didn’t even know it was ready. Normally I’d leave it on the plant to dry and by the time it was ready it was late season and so I thought maybe it was a creature that was storing up food for the winter. Then I started harvesting it earlier and letting it dry in the greenhouse, which seemed to work. But this year I thought maybe if I planted it earlier, then it would be ready before the creature got hungry, but this clearly didn’t work. The harvest day fell while we were away and the marauding was able to carry on night after night until there were very few cobs left. What I need to do differently is to calculate the harvest date to a time when all the camping and such is finished so I can keep an eye on things. I also may need some kind of deterrent or physically cage my popcorn once the ears form…. Hmm this requires some thought…
This season I have replaced all my bamboo poles with steel rebar. Not only did it turn out cheaper but the strength it offers is beyond compare. Nothing has snapped under the weight of plants laden with full fruit or tossed about in the slightest of breeze. I’m hooked on these. However I think the trellis supporting the cucumbers and gherkins needs attention. With a pole at each end of a nylon netting that starts the season stretched tight, has not stayed that way. The gherkins instead of climbing the netting, have pulled it down towards them and gherkins are surprisingly strong and the poles have taken on a distinct lean. So next season I’m going to need something across the top that will keep the poles upright and at the correct distance apart to resist the lean and also will be able to hold the top edge of the netting to stop the sag. It is all very easy to suggest this, but I’m not sure how to connect whatever it will be, securely to the top of the rebar. I’m going to need to ponder this.
In order to get a bigger onion crop and a bigger melon crop – I got greedy. I did the same for my garlic and peppers and in theory it should have worked. The onions and garlic are generally due out on the longest day which is usually a miserable un-summer-like day just before Christmas. So I figured if I could only just hold back the peppers and melons in containers until the onion and garlic come out and then pop them in their place to carry on growing all season. It also gives a use to this empty bed that I normally don’t really know what to do with. Now I’ll freely admit some of this problem is mine as I didn’t plant the waiting plants into big enough containers so they could continue to grow unhindered. I ran out of time and didn’t have enough big enough pots. I’ll need to find some. But one thing happened that I didn’t expect, but probably should have – the weather has been horrible for summer and everyone is saying things are slower than normal, even my onion growing farmer friend across the road. Added to that the ‘fun’ of camping and my onions have only just come out of the bed I need for the melons, almost a month longer than I’d planned for.
So the melons are languishing in pots too small in my absence in increasingly hotter weather. I don’t hold out great hopes. The garlic came out earlier than expected due to the rust, but the peppers aren’t as lush as they normally are. So I think in order to learn from this for next season – is I need to be diligent with my plants in pots care. I need to ensure they are in the right sized pots and are lavished with love and attention until the time is right to move them. I still think this a sound idea that just needs tweaking.
These are just the obvious problems that stare at me and taunt me each time I go into the garden, but if I look closer I’ll see I’ve too many zucchini – what was I thinking? and the butternuts could probably do with more space, I should give up on the catch-up sweetcorn and just make sure the seed is fresh to start with, besides the pukekos just keep pulling them out anyway! I need to go for a wander in the garden with my notebook and take notes – and then make plans and put them in place next season.
Come again soon – most of the garden is well and thriving, but growing as a gardener is just as important as having the plants growing.
Sarah the Gardener : o)