July update

July has been a strange month – initially very hot and dry, then a little cooler and with some rain. Not a lot of rain, but  enough to keep the grass a little greener than in previous years. Of course there are drawbacks – rain and heat are perfect conditions for mildew and blight so I am watching my tomatoes carefully.  
The grape Aladin on the pergola is looking really good. I prune it regularly to control growth and have already taken off many of the bunches. If I want bigger grapes I should take off more and even thin the grapes within the bunch, but I think it looks so good like this!Two weeks ago I harvested the onions – now they are drying in the garage. Once completely dry I will string them for storage.Birds have been a real pest this year. I am netting much more than usual – not because they eat the plants, but because they scratch around them and dig for worms. Impossible when you have planted seeds, and destructive when plants are small. I have been trying to get grass to grow by the new strawberry boxes for 6 months – each time I plant it gets dug up by birds. I have now resorted to covering the area with mesh. Fingers crossed this works!

The grape on the little pergola was badly damaged in the late frost, but has since recovered and has nearly reached the top!
Claire’s gem squashes (her favourite!) are doing really well. I read that they like growing on the compost heap and so far so good!
Plantings this month include:
Spinach Matador – planted end of June and already had one reaping of it. Delicious!
Fennel Orion, Cauliflower Boule de Neige, Swiss Chard, Carrots Chanteney, Turnip Milan Rouge. Beetroot Egypte, Pak Choi, Broccoli Sibsey, Lettuce Sweet Success
But the real excitement this time of year is watching vegetables mature! All the chillies are full of fruit and some are starting to turn red. This one is Espelette
Lots of green peppers – early planting will ensure they have time to turn red. I am not crazy about eating them green.
Aubergines ready to pick
Sweetcorn growing really well and cobs forming
The Borlotti beans are filling out
Melons and butternut ripening
The melons on the frame are supported as they grow too heavy – but the advantage of the frame is that they get a lot of sun, and they don’t get damaged from contact with the soil.
I’ve been harvesting new potatoes for about 3 weeks . Celtiane (earlies) are delicious boiled and in potato bakes. Victoria is definitely the best for roasts and chips. The Sarpo varieties are growing very very tall – eaten some of the Axona and they are very versatile, but not as good as the Victoria for roasting.
The picking garden is still supplying lots of flowers For the first time, I let early planting of coriander run to seed and collected the seed and left it to dry. I use a lot of coriander in cooking (and for making biltong!) so I’m thrilled to have a good supply.

 

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