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August: the garden in high summer

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default August: the garden in high summer

Post by Chilli-head on 1st August 2016, 11:42 pm

... I say this with tongue in cheek, of course.  It seems to have turned cold and wet here.  The forecast suggests a return to more summer-like conditions by the tail of the week though.

Despite a below average start to the year, greenhouse tomatoes have been a great success for us.  Tonight I picked a mix of varieties for a savoury summer tart - I used a Raymond Blanc recipe that has a puff pastry case, covered thinly with onions sweated with thyme in olive oil, topped with sliced tomatoes, olives and torn basil leaves. Mmmm.  Onions, thyme, basil and tomatoes all homegrown and freshly picked. The San Marzano plum tomatoes have done really well this year, good rich flavour.

I cleared some ground the other day and made some late sowings of oriental veg - Mooli and Pak Choi.

I just remembered that I meant reply to a question on peppers from Ploshkin, about what was eating them ... I don't know, but wish I did ! It is a recurring problem for me, sometimes I find small caterpillars that are kind of translucent that I suspect may be the culprit, but I don't know what they are.  I will ask at our local chilli farm if I get a chance.


Last edited by Chilli-head on 1st September 2016, 10:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Ploshkin on 2nd August 2016, 2:52 pm

The stuff in my garden is limping along in the wet and cold. The potatoes I'm digging are quite slug damaged. Less than half of my carrots germinated, I've resown the gaps but nothing has appeared yet. I had a total failure with runner bean germination, had a bit of a dig and the seeds have rotted in the ground. I do have some dwarf beans and Mr Fearns with flowers on. I kept a few Mr Fearns and Tutankhamun peas for a corner of the polytunnel specifically for saving seed but they have failed to germinate in there so I'm going to be struggling with seed saving again.

I'm glad it's not just me that gets holes in my peppers, I think the mice are also having a go at the sweet peppers, there appear to be teethmarks in one or two. They're the only thing in the tunnel that has been really attacked by anything apart from a few strawberries before I evicted 2 blackbirds and fitted a chicken wire inner door.
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Post by Chilli-head on 2nd August 2016, 2:59 pm

Ploshkin wrote: Less than half of my carrots germinated, I've resown the gaps but nothing has appeared yet.

Monty Don's carrots on Gardener's World were a pretty miserable sight, so you are in good company. None of my carrots germinated, but that's because the seed are still in the packet ! The weather was so wet I didn't get around to it, but from what I'm hearing perhaps saving my seed for next year is no bad thing.
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Post by Ploshkin on 2nd August 2016, 3:06 pm

I actually replanted thinnings in some of the gaps - nothing ventured, nothing gained.
My neighbour sows her carrots in small pots then separates and replants them - I've never asked her if she actually ends up with any to eat. It took some persuading her last year that the tray of parsnips she was nurturing were, in fact, grass! I gave her a load of tomato, pepper, courgette and squash plants this year so that she had a fighting chance of getting something to crop.
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Post by freebird on 2nd August 2016, 9:27 pm

I bought 1kg of carrots for 45p today in Tesco. I really can't be arsed to grow carrots. Apart from only being able to grow stump rooted varieties due to our heavy soil, if I don't lose them at the germination stage to slugs and snails, the developing roots are always riddled with holes.

I have discovered something interesting though. As I was so late this year getting things started, I bought in some of my plants - peppers being one. I use the Easy2Grow self-watering pots, which have bases that each house two pots, side by side. This year, being so far behind, I didn't properly clean out all the water distribution mechanisms, and although it all seemed to be working when I put the plants in, they quickly stopped, and I was having to water by hand (thus defeating the point of self-watering pots!). Anyhow, I hadn't used all of them - only about half, in fact, so gave the remaining ones a proper clean and test, then spread all my plants (4 tomatoes and 2 peppers) between the six base units, so giving each plant double the usual spreading out room. My peppers never usually amount to much, but this year, since being separated out somewhat, are growing really well. Some of the best plants I've ever had, but they hadn't been showing much promise until they were moved. I've come to the conclusion that peppers really don't like to be crowded out - not even by each other, and certainly not by tomatoes. They've never had competition at root level, but have previously always been rather overshadowed by other plants around them. Certainly an idea I will expand on next year.
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Post by freebird on 2nd August 2016, 9:48 pm

I meant to say, Ploshkin, why do you sow your runner beans direct into the ground? You have often told us about the cold, wet summers you tend to get there, and runner beans are native to somewhat warmer climes.

I like to start mine in rootrainers, and this year although I was late starting them, it was quite cold, so I put the rootrainers in the heated propagator. I think once they are up and going, runner beans are quite forgiving, but they can take a bit of cajoling to get them started.
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Post by FloBear on 3rd August 2016, 9:09 pm

Oh dear!
I posted earlier but wondered if something had gone wrong as a weird thing happened as I left the site.
Oh well. Quick summary is that nothing much is doing - tomatoes have been hit with a brown patchy thing on leaves, stems and fruit and climbing French beans have got to 9 ft and finally decided to produce some tiny beans.
Had some nice blackcurrants earlier in the season.
That's it really.
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Post by Ploshkin on 3rd August 2016, 9:36 pm

Oh, Flobear, it sounds as though your tomatoes have got blight (same as potato blight). It's why I can't ever grow outside tomatoes here, they will always get it as it is invariably wet.

Freebird, I have always put my runner beans straight into the ground as I leave it until July before I sow them. That is because I usually have plenty of other beans earlier on and mostly we don't get early autumn frost so I take the risk and am often still picking them in October. This is the first time they have failed.
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Post by Dandelion on 3rd August 2016, 10:15 pm

Ploshkin wrote:The stuff in my garden is limping along in the wet and cold.  The potatoes I'm digging are quite slug damaged.  Less than half of my carrots germinated, I've resown the gaps but nothing has appeared yet.  I had a total failure with runner bean germination, had a bit of a dig and the seeds have rotted in the ground.  I do have some dwarf beans and Mr Fearns with flowers on.  I kept a few Mr Fearns and Tutankhamun peas for a corner of the polytunnel specifically for saving seed but they have failed to germinate in there so I'm going to be struggling with seed saving again.


I have spares of both peas and beans if you need any

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Dandelion on 3rd August 2016, 10:17 pm

I've just planted some climbing French beans in large pots as an experiment (I read it somewhere...!) They've just germinated - I'll keep them outside until the autumn comes and the weather cools down, then put them into the greenhouse. Hopefully they will provide some autumn beans, but if not they'll provide the compost heap with some nitrogen!!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Dandelion on 4th August 2016, 2:26 pm

What a lovely morning! I sat in the sun (and sometimes showers!) cutting back blackcurrant sage, mint and comfrey. I feel all mellow from the fresh air and the smells! Sometimes when someone gives me good advice I think 'yeah? YEAH?' and decide not to follow it. So I have a rambling bed where I have let the mint and comfrey fight it out without any restrictions. The mint is gaining slightly, but it all looks so lush, with the bright pink of the blackcurrant sage flowers and sweet williams at the edge. (I should have taken a photo before I cut it back. Whoops! Embarassed )

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by freebird on 4th August 2016, 4:13 pm

Sounds like you're having a good day Dandelion. Oh by the way, I will be interested to know the outcome of your late climbing beans experiment. Keep us posted.
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Post by Dandelion on 5th August 2016, 10:08 pm

I will. I do have a bean question though - I have three wigwams of beans in one raised bed, so they're all on the same soil and have been treated the same way. One is a wigwam of Kew Blue climbing French beans, which have flowered and fruited their little hearts out! One is a wigwam of runner beans, which had a slow start through that very hot weather, but they're liking the cooler weather and beans are now growing. But the third wigwam is some Italian climbing French beans (very international!) which I took from the seed swap. They are very leafy but with very few flowers and no beans at all. I would have said 'too much nitrogen' if someone had asked me about this, but all plants have had the same amount of everything. Maybe they are late developers??

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Chilli-head on 6th August 2016, 10:35 pm

Ahh yes. Those would be Fagiolo Rampicate Stortino di Trento, from Seeds of Italy.

I will confess I put these in. I got these from Seeds of Italy in a huge box, so thought to share them in the seed swap although I hadn't tried them myself before. I've generally had good luck with SOI varieties though.

Mine are as you describe, though I'm hopeful that some of the buds I can see might be flowers rather than just more leaves. They are leaving it a bit late though. Having said that, my other beans are not behaving normally this year though; some of the drying beans have a few fully formed pods, but are having a second go at flowering. The weather had not been good for them, I think.

Do let me know how yours get on Dandelion, and sorry for not testing them first Embarassed
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Post by FloBear on 7th August 2016, 2:26 pm

I just went out to count butterflies and discovered that my climbing French Beans which have been leafing like mad and finally decided to flower, have at last produced some picakable beans. I have a feeling there's a glut in the offing!

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Post by Dandelion on 7th August 2016, 8:10 pm

Chilli-head wrote:

Mine are as you describe, though I'm hopeful that some of the buds I can see might be flowers rather than just more leaves.  They are leaving it a bit late though.  Having said that, my other beans are not behaving normally this year though; some of the drying beans have a few fully formed pods, but are having a second go at flowering.  The weather had not been good for them, I think.

Do let me know how yours get on Dandelion, and sorry for not testing them first Embarassed

No - that's fine; I was glad to try them. I just thought it was something odd I might have done! I had another look this afternoon, and I could see a few shy little flowers tucked away under the leaves, so hopefully they'll get going. It will be good to have some beans which are slower to perform, as the Kew Blue have nearly finished (which seems a bit early to me!)

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 7th August 2016, 9:07 pm

My outdoor beans are only just getting into stride flowering. There are a few tiny beans forming on my dwarf French ones. You are all accustomed to a balmier climate than me as it's not been unusual here in recent years.
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Post by Dandelion on 16th August 2016, 6:35 pm

I've had an unusual problem over the last couple of days. To protect my Brussels sprouts from the dreaded cabbage whites I've made a cage. I pushed canes in around the plants, then stretched plastic netting around it securing it with old clothes pegs. It's not pretty, but it works a treat. However, although the butterflies haven't found their way in, twice this week I've had to rescue a tiny wren, who has found his or her way in, but can't get out. I first noticed it when I was washing up, and could see something bouncing up and down inside the netting quite angrily. I assume that because wrens are birds who like to stay low down and rootle around in the undergrowth, that the bird has found a way in that the butterflies haven't noticed, but can't find the little gap to get back out again. It's been lovely to see the bird at close quarters (albeit quite annoyed!)

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Ploshkin on 16th August 2016, 7:45 pm

I love wrens. There is a cheeky one that squeezes through the netting that covers the polytunnel door when it's open. I rescued a tiny, baby one from the cat the other day. It was the smallest bird I have ever seen - quite beautiful. Fortunately it had been protected from damage by a thick layer of grass and flew away
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Post by Dandelion on 16th August 2016, 10:11 pm

I've always liked wrens, probably since I was a small child, and used to see one on the reverse side of a farthing.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by freebird on 16th August 2016, 11:01 pm

Oh you lucky thing, Dandelion! Though I did see a little gang of three young wrens a couple of days ago while out walking the dog. One landed on a dying nettle, which promptly bowed under the weight, tipping the bird upside down on its perch. Made me laugh.
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Post by Dandelion on 17th August 2016, 12:15 pm

Very Happy

According to the RSPB website, the wren is the most common breeding bird in the UK, which is surprising as you see them so seldom.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Chilli-head on 17th August 2016, 1:27 pm

I find I have to net things at the allotment particularly to keep off birds, butterfies etc. But the trouble is that the netting keeps out the birds that would eat slugs and snails, caterpillars etc. You can't win, it seems.

I found my fruit cage once with a thrush inside it trying to get at my strawberries, with a sparrowhawk bombing it trying to get at the trapped thrush !
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Post by Ploshkin on 17th August 2016, 2:26 pm

Difficult to trump that Chilli Head though I have had a peacock in my garden before now.
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Post by Dandelion on 18th August 2016, 3:33 pm

Aren't they supposed to be nice roasted, Ploshkin?
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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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