My June kitchen garden update
We’re enjoying a mini heatwave in the UK, and the garden is loving the sunshine and the general warmth, well, apart from some of the lettuces which are wilting all over the place. The tomato plants seem to be the happiest of all, especially the two Losetto plants which are already starting to trail over the edges of their raised platform, as you can see in the picture above. There are fruits on all of the tomato plants now but nothing’s ripened properly yet, and I’m dying to have the first of them in some summer salads and on pizzas because home grown is always better than shop bought.
I didn’t buy as many seeds for the garden this year, and as a result I’ve mostly been making do with older stocks. This has meant lower germination rates, or just not enough seeds to go around for some purposes so I haven’t had much of anything to swap and there are fewer plants in total than last time around. It makes the garden simpler and easier to manage, but it’s not quite as much fun and I miss the way it brings extra variety onto the plot too.
Meanwhile, the permanent plants are doing okay, and we’ve had a few Polka raspberries and alpine strawberries to eat so far this month, plus a good crop of Champagne rhubarb. However, it’s the cherries that have surprised us with a bumper crop for 2017, after giving us only 10 or so fruits a year ago – have a look at the picture above. They need another week or so of sunshine before they turn a deeper red and are ready to start picking, and I can hardly wait.
The cucumber plants are forming tiny fruits, but most of the courgettes and squashes are lagging behind for some reason and haven’t even put out their first male flowers. The exception to this is the Summer Ball pumpkin/courgette hybrid that was planted in a big pot on the deck, which already has a couple of round yellow courgettes on it that look like they’ll be ready for a stir fry by the weekend (picture below). It had a 10-day headstart on the rest of them, so maybe things will look different in a couple of weeks.
The Cobra french beans got off to a slow start but they’re putting out pretty purple flowers now, and have even given us about 10 fine beans so I hope we’ll have a good crop from them eventually. The local snails like them too, unfortunately, but I’ll keep picking those off and feeding them to the nearby ducks. Another success story is the spring cabbages (Pyramid variety, I think), that I sowed last Autumn, which have formed hearts and are ready to start cutting and cooking. I might leave the stems behind, in case they re-sprout like they did last year, giving two crops for the price of one and little to no extra effort.
This garden also makes use of companion planting, and there are several healthy clumps of violas and basils now, plus one or two marigolds, and some nasturtiums. The lavender is starting to thrive and bringing in the honey bees too, so whoever owns that nearby hive is going to get some good honey this year.
They say that an hour of gardening in June is worth two in July, and three in August. If that’s true then I’d better get myself moving and do some more of it in the next few days… My plans for the rest of the month include plenty of watering, weeding, staking and feeding, and I’m going to try to sow one last batch of summer salad veggies and soft herbs if the weather allows. After that we’ll be picking cherries and rhubarb and enjoying lots of tasty desserts.
Are you growing your own fruit or vegetables this year? How’s it going? Any success stories so far?