Sunday 29 July 2007

Summer catch cropping


Although we are theoretically in the height of summer now as you can see from the pictures there are a lot of rain clouds out there. Instead of hot dry months we are having an extended spring with frequent showers and frost free temperatures. At this rate summer may never arrive, apparently this is due to a deviation of the usual jet stream which is much further south this year than usual.

Ordinarily it would be hopeless to plant crops from seed for another month so at least the mild damp weather does have some potential for cultivating an interim crop of quick growing vegetables. We've chosen varieties which are normally sown in spring to provide the early harvests and fill the hungry gap until the main crops mature. These varieties might not be the heaviest yielders or the best for storage but they grow strongly and quickly. If we're lucky we'll have fresh baby veggies in a couple of months.

Yesterday we did the actual planting.

From the left; a half row of dill (last minute change of plan there), a row of Savoy cabbages bought as plug plants as we've got to give the deer something to keep them going until the other plants are up, then a row of salad onions, some Early Nantes carrots, Egyptian Beetroots (I'm particularly hopeful over these as they appeal to me), a row of Lambs' lettuce, a row of Chantenay Red Cored carrots, another row of salad onions, a row of winter radishes - half black round, half rose long - and then a row of dwarf mangetout peas and a final row of haricot verts.

None of these, possibly excepting the radishes, are likely to germinate before we take a break to the UK during August so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather remains temperate and the deer, cabbage whites and slugs can be averted sufficiently well that the baby plants survive a week or two with little attention.

If these look as if they'll be successful it might be worth sowing some of the Chinese vegetables in August to carry on cropping until late Autumn. Some crops are capable of overwintering and could provide early vegetables next spring but there's always the deer factor to consider. We might just lose the lot.

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