What a summer we have had this year. June has hosted some of the sunniest days in London we have experienced for a long time. Its' been a slight strain on the garden world, with a-lot of the vegetables suffering from thirst. The heat hasn't been all bad though. The number and variety of insects visiting the garden has dramatically increased thanks to the all the flowers popping up all over the garden. We have seen a large number of Ladybugs, of varying colours, we've had hover flies, crickets, grass hoppers, butterflies, bumble bees, wasps and the honey bee population has also increased slightly. We have even seen a few dragon flies roaming around. This sudden explosion in insect activity has been attracting the birds and so the garden is not only a food production site but not has small pockets of wild areas where nature is left to manage herself, and it is fantastic-ly diverse and teaming with life.
Natures canvas, one of the wild areas
So the heatwave we have had in June has been great for the insect world but what of the crops grown in site?
Sun is shining.... The weather is sweet...
Its' been fantastic weather for picnics, BBQ and sun bathing put the vegetables have been put on great stress. We had been mad to water everyday for the first two weeks in June. Temperatures have climbed to 38 degrees in the polytunnel making it unbearable to work inside. The conditions outside have been a bit better, its' been sunny but a slight breeze every once in a while circles around the site and the advantage of being on the hill top is apparent. It has been dry, but despite this the grass had grown to impressive heights and our wild areas seemed to be copping well with the dry spell.
Our winter crops, broad beans, spinach, cabbages, and garlics were all still growing strong. The heat caused the spinach to shoot up and flower very quickly so we had to continuously pick and prune. The red colour of the spinach and the height is reached added some character to the garden and the leaves weren't half bad either.
Spinach in bloom
Two months after the first flowers appeared on the broad beans we had began harvesting and have had a good crop since. We have had black flies trying to attack them this year as well but it seemed like there were more predatory insects patrolling the garden this time around and as a result the damage from black flies was almost un-noticeable. This variety of broad bean is very easy to grown and copes well in all weather conditions, but do not like being wet for very long periods. We planted them towards the end of winter in small pots and planted out in early spring. We also placed a few small canes around the plot and this acted as support against the wind (no need to fasten them to the plants).
Broad beans fully grown
Cabbages are a bit more tricky. In my last post I mentioned that we planted them from seed in winter and then planted out in the polytunnel then transferred some to the outside. This was all just to experiment and deduce the best conditions for growing cabbage. It has paid off. Outside, the plants have taken well and inside the polytunnel the first heads had appear in late May. So I would recommend planting in medium to large pots in late winter and feed well with both compost and manure, plant out in mid spring and continue to feed using a liquid feed if possible and very important do not let them get dry. We noticed that the moment they start drying out they send out flowers.
Cabbages growing outdoors and First head forming
Our garlics had gotten very leafy and kept growing right through the winter and had just started showing signs of flowering in mid June. Again another very east crop to grow. We simply used garlic we bought from the local supermarket and planted them in small pot until they grew about 4 inches and them we planted them out in the polytunnel and waited for then to just start flowering before harvesting.
Garlic soon ready for harvesting
Hanging out to dry
Spring time is the time for planting seeds and thanks to the polytunnel and the mini green houses we have been able to get them off to a very early start. More on spring planting next time.