We’re now into harvesting at London Road Station garden. We have climbing beans, yellow courgettes, raspberries, chard and sorrel, along with various herbs – sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, tarragon, thyme, dill and mint. Our beans are again towering up above the fencing, our very fragrant mint is spectacular (and held in check in a window box planter) and the yellow courgettes we were worrying about a month or so back are now are expansive after all the rain. We’ve had some currants, black and red. We’ve had some strawberries. We’ve got onions and garlic drying in the conservatory. We were proud of our ‘cocktail carrots’, grown in a window box. I’m still not convinced that carrots are actually a good use of the space and compost, but we were thrilled that they grew and produced something edible.
Meanwhile, our young fruit trees have some fruit: the earlier apples – Tinsley Quince and Saltcote Pippin – have big green apples. It’s received wisdom that you should remove fruit on very young trees as it saps their growing energy, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut them off. They are not due to ripen until early October, though they look deliciously edible right now. We even have some pears – well, one on each of the trees, Beurre Hardy and Concorde, but that’s enough to be proud of.
We did have salad leaves of various kinds in both the shady leaf bed and underplanted in the orchard beds, but the very hot weather encouraged them to bolt, and there’s only so much you can do with bitter scruffy lettuce. We cleared the final remains a couple of weeks ago to get the beds ready for planting … the leeks.
We’ve also not managed to keep the cabbage white butterflies away from the cavalo nero and kale. It’s looking sad: nibbled, crawling with caterpillars, with tough leaves. Brassicas are a real challenge in a small garden, and they need to be netted.
We’ve also not be brilliantly successful with the ‘climbing courgettes’ (Black Forest) nor with our tomatoes. Two courgettes and three tomatoes are growing in grow bags. I think they may have dried out during our three weeks of very hot weather. I tried to revive them yesterday by giving them a real soaking and sinking bottle-reservoirs in the soil, but they are not looking at their best. I think we may need to build another raised bed up in our sunny corner: grow bags have their limitations when the weather is really hot.
So, our WINS for 2013? I think, for me, the onions, the yellow courgettes (grown from out-of-date seeds), the climbing beans, the mint (fantastic tea), the dill (it’s beautiful, just waiting to be added to smoked salmon or new potatoes), the raspberries and of course, the orchard. And we’ve done well with seeds this year: perhaps too well. There are still around 30 leek seedlings waiting to be planted … sometime, somewhere.
Our LOSSES? Hmm … cavalo nero, kale, possibly the climbing courgettes which certainly didn’t want to climb at the start, our grow bags generally which dried out. Oh, and basil …
We have now planted two basil plants in our public herb planters. It seems that people round here really like basil. The first plant was exhausted quicker than any of our other herbs. Our replacement basil seedlings then suffered from overheating/drying during the drought, but we managed to raise a few plants, one of which was planted last week in one of the herb planters …
When I checked yesterday, however, there was no sign of basil leaves, but just a brown stalk. This time, not our basil-loving neighbours, I think, but the natural vandals: slugs and snails, who thus far this summer have not been much in evidence. Unless of course, it is in fact this year’s enemy number one, the cabbage whites? I console myself that whatever the cause of the damage, it doesn’t look like the wilful vandalism of humans – and that is a good reason for optimism.