When a swede, isn't a swede....

The other day I was in the kitchen garden just checking things over and seeing how things were getting on. This year I am particular pleased with the brassicas, especially my apparent success with the swede.

A couple of months ago I had direct sown some chard, turnips and swede all side by side,  the rest of the bed being planted up with cabbage, parsnips, beetroot and celeriac. The bed was then covered with insect proof mesh to keep out everything from the cabbage root fly to the pigeons. The weather initially was a little hit and miss, but eventually some of the seeds which were sown started to germinate and grow.

Given the dry June that we had it became necessary to uncover the bed and drench the ground around the plants once or even twice a week. It was at this time I noticed just how well the swede and turnips were growing. That is until one particular day, it suddenly dawned on me that the turnips were putting on a lot of healthy top growth, but not much was developing in the way of a root. What I had initially had thought was the turnips were in fact chard, hence the swede that I was so proud of were in fact the turnips. What happened to the swede? who knows, it seems that the seeds never actually germinated.  It just goes to show that whenever sowing direct you should always label the rows.


A Blooming Dry July

Yesterday I awoke to the rumble of thunder and the sound of rain pounding on the roof. It hasn’t rained for a few weeks now and the water butts were dry.
I have spent most of my evenings in the garden watering, but not the flower beds as you would think. Although one or two of the plants are starting to show some affects of the dry weather, it  goes to show that the theory of right plant in the right place really does work. The only watering in respect of the flower borders has been a weekly drench of the ground around the roses. Needless to say they have put on a fantastic display, and with one or two other plants, have needed deadheading almost daily. In the kitchen garden the peas, courgettes and tomatoes have needed watering every day with the brassicas and onions requiring a good drenching once or twice a week.
The garden overall is really starting to get going now. The cold spell early in the year has resulted in some plants flowering 6 weeks later than usual, with the warm dry weather that we are currently experiencing, resulting in the earlier flowering of other plants. Some vegetables have also been ready for picking, namely shallots, garlic, managetout, peas, beetroot and spring onions. The tomatoes are a little behind in the greenhouse, and are only just starting their second truss of fruit. I was absolutely gutted a few weeks back when seeing some tomatoes growing in a public garden, further south from here, they were strong looking plants and already onto their forth truss of fruit. Mine at the time hadn’t even managed the first, let alone a forth. The tomatoes are not the only fruit we have had a problem with so far. The blueberries/bilberries have produced only a small amount of fruit this year. This could be down to not enough pollinating insects around at the right time, or maybe with the bumper crop we had last year they need some time to recover. All I know is that we are not the only ones with a poor harvest this year.
For those of you that recall, the bees that were introduced into the garden a few months back, all is not well. I can only assume that the warm weather has assisted in bringing to a near end our hive. The queen bee has died and all but two or three of the workers have gone. Our only hope now is that the eggs that have been laid hatch okay and the hive exists a while longer. Despite this we are still getting a number of bees in the garden, some species of which I don’t recall ever seeing before.



Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court

A few weeks ago we spent 10 glorious days in the Cotswolds and whilst there managed to squeeze in a garden or two. We spent some time at Hidcote, a garden created by Lawrence Johnson, which later became the first garden taken on by the National Trust. It is a fantastic garden and it was not the first time that we had visited.

We also visted Kiftsgate Court, a garden that is just down the road from Hidcote, and one that I would recommend. It has been gardened by three generations of women, with help and inspiration coming from Lawrence Johnson when he was a friend to the Muir family.