Alex’s Ramblings June 2022

So far, June has been a little disappointing. Last month I was bemoaning the lack of rainfall. Although we have had a fair amount in the intervening period, the ground still remains fairly dry. Day time temperatures have been slightly above average but we have experienced some very cold nights which has impacted on the growth of my sweet peas and sweet corn in particular. Speaking of sweet corn, I was watching Gardeners World last Friday and Monty Don was making his first sowing! I shall be keeping a close eye on his results.

The saga of peat free compost continues in my garden. I have previously reported on poor results achieved, particularly with transplanted seedlings . Talking to other gardeners, their experiences seem to be similar with results varying depending on brand used. I have used specialist tomato peat free compost to grow my crop of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Some  of the tomatoes are looking decidedly chlorotic so have started my feeding regime a little earlier than otherwise. I’ve had it told to me that certain of the luminaries in the gardening world have said that with peat free compost in general, it’s all about getting the watering right. Can’t disagree with that but surely, that’s always been the case.

In the greenhouse, I’m continuing to pinch out side shoots, some of which I’ve potted up to give me a longer  fruiting period. I picked my first tomatoes on 10th June last year so shall be a few days later this year. Cucumbers are producing a crop and to date I’ve picked seven fruits. Our grand daughters have commented how much tastier they are compared with shop bought! 

Outside, I’m expecting courgettes this week,  I’ve planted up my leeks and made a second sowing of French and runner beans. I’ve had to make a second sowing of mange tout as the pigeons seem to have had all but one of the first sowing. This time they have the protection of netting. My broad beans have been attacked by black fly. I blast then off with a fine jet of water from the hose. Pinching out the growing tip of each plant when the first pods are about 7-8 cms should prevent further attack. I’m expecting strawberrys in the next few days having protected the fruit with straw from a friendly local farmer and also ensured they are covered in a suitable netting. Otherwise it’s just a case of regular hoeing to keep things growing unhindered.

In the ornamental garden, dahlias should be in by now and I’ve taken the opportunity to fill in gaps with annuals. Roses are flowering nicely and the feeding regime started. Pots have been planted up which will require regular watering and feeding to ensure great results.

Last month, I mentioned I was off to Chelsea for the annual flower show which was being staged in the Spring again following the restrictions due to Covid. Well, it certainly was a full day out. It’s been many years since I last visited Chelsea and I have to confess to being somewhat disappointed. It seems to me to be heavily commercially orientated. While I can see that gardening related activities are a valid theme for trade stands, I fail to see what such things as fine art and the ability to buy a fashionable hat have much to do with gardening. 

The grand marquee failed to impress for me, lacking its usual  pizazz, however the trade stands exhibiting greenhouses etc were a particular stand out feature. The show gardens were a source of many inspirational ideas, some quite controversial. It may just be me but I felt that the show has become another venue on the social circuit for many. One of the additional things of interest was that I spotted a flock of parakeets flying in and out of the trees and a red kite above the site. Apparently kites were a common occurrence in the filthy streets of London in centuries gone by. Presumably they have found other sources of nourishment.

I’m now starting to think about the annual flower show that, this year has metamorphosed into a village show,  merely recognising what has occurred over the past years. I eagerly await the publication of the schedule so that I may start planning what I might enter. Hopefully you will be doing the same. 

In the meantime, happy gardening,