Wednesday 27 June 2012

Any Similarities are Accidental

tulip tree 2

My aunt was a very keen gardener and her garden was full of interesting plants and ambitious design. One of her treasured projects was a tulip tree Liriodendron tulipifera which grew bigger and bigger and bigger on one boundary of her plot but couldn't ever be persuaded to flower to her great disappointment. This tulip tree is in my garden in France and has flowered regularly for the last 10 years. Every time I see it I think of my aunt and hope she knows of it and feels my gardener's pride. 

Unfortunately, although it's a good year for tulip trees the weather hasn't really improved enough to bring on the vegetables particularly. The humid conditions have encouraged nearly terminal rust on the garlic and slugs on the seedlings to such an extent I've resorted to pellets even though I would prefer to avoid them.

Today is dry and with regular warnings of Smith periods from Blightwatch for the Channel Islands (the closest area they cover to me) I'm trying again to give a prophylactic spraying of Bordeaux mixture to the potatoes. The later varieties are making some tubers now and if I can keep them blight free for a few more weeks we may yet have a useful crop. I can hope anyway.

The runner beans are running but the other beans aren't really making much growth, the sweetcorn seems to be at a standstill and the courgette plants only just beginning to flower. I've never known a year like it and the longer range weather forecasts are all pretty gloomy for the rest of the year.

small wild flower - common cow wheat

The different conditions are producing some different vegetation. I'd never noticed this little flower before, a semi-parasitic weed of ancient woodlands called Common Cow Wheat or Melampyrum pratense. It is the food plant of the Heath Fritillary butterfly and if there were any butterflies this year it should be heaving with caterpillars but again, the weather is against it. I can't find a definitively good source about the plant to link to so I suggest you use your favourite search engine and read several entries to get a fuller picture.

I told you we'd had rain

The unusual conditions did bring on an early flush of ceps, I spotted these from the cab of the tractor when grass cutting, but it's small recompense for all the waterlogging everywhere else.

tuliptree 1

Sunday 17 June 2012

It rained and rained and rained

grey skies

The weather remains unsatisfactory and while it's so warm and wet I'm in some fear for the potato crop. Two days ago in a dry 12 hours I sprayed with Bordeaux mixture in the hope it would have time to work and dry onto the foliage. Later that day the rain came down harder than ever. I think the exercise was pointless.

Not that there's much crop to save so far. The Swift potatoes, normally extremely reliable very first earlies have provided just one or two tubers per plant and those were sluggy. Even the leafy parts of the plants were destroyed, a total failure for the first time ever. The Red Duke of York are making a little more weight but they are also falling prey to slugs. The soil is sodden and it's like pulling them from sinking sand.

The sweetcorn and pumpkins are now planted out but looking sulky and slow, the greenhouse tomatoes and peppers doing only o.k.

And of course, the deer were back the other night and took the tops off the onions.

However, at least this summer we won't be depending on local farmers to cut the grass and with our new best friend here we can start to manage the land in the way it needs. To begin with we'll be attacking patches of noxious docks and proliferating nettles and brambles but as time goes on we hope to encourage the ancient hay meadows here to achieve their full potential and clear up a lot of years of neglect at the same time.


Wednesday 6 June 2012

If there's nothing positive...

holding the moon

No sooner did I start to relax in the summer sun than it was cruelly removed again. I don't believe a word of it but the forecast for Friday tells me to expect snow. I mean, come on, give us a break.

dog rose

Time continues but everything is slow or going backwards. I've planted out the beans but I'm holding back on planting out the sweetcorn for a few more days. We might not get snow but we've lost the corn to hailstorms before now and so I'm not keen to take chances.

windy sunday

In other news I continue to be irritated by this broken travesty of a system for blogging. For a few days I imagined it had become better but this entry has proved me wrong. It even messes with the perfectly acceptable HTML image links provided by Flickr and the whole thing just makes me mad.  I don't like typing along the bottom of a text editing window.  If it wasn't for the pretty good spam filtering here (and my own lethargy) I'd move to Wordpress and be done with it.

So time to button my lip and wait for better times.