Friday, 1 August 2008

August Already!

Time has flown by since my last post. I have been off for a week now, it's been very hot and we've had a couple of thunderstorms. These have filled up the water butts, but I do need quite a lot now that everything is producing.
The runner beans have been doing very well, but the climbing french ones have tailed off over the last week. Next year I will have them on seperate wigwams, as I think the french have been overwhelmed by the runners. Still, I've frozen several packs of each one, so hopefully these will be a nice change in the winter. I blanched them, as this kills bacteria and lengthens the freezer life.
The courgettes are still prolific, but some of the older leaves have powdery mildew. I've been cutting these off, which doesn't seem to have affected the plants. I am keeping them fed and watered, especially as they are in pots. Today I have just potted up my follow on plants. Only 2 made it, due to slug attack. There seems to be quite a few in the greenhouse!
In the greenhouse the cucumbers are going mad, I picked 8 the other day, and another 6 yesterday. I do pick them when they are still quite slim as this keeps the plants producing, and the flavour is better. I am picking tomatoes from both the Tigrella and the Sunburst plants, but the Tigrella are definitely more advanced. I am feeding at least weekly, and have removed some of the lower leaves to let the air circulate.
The blackberries on the garden are ripening well, I'm going to pick some to eat fresh tomorrow. I have been out and picked some wild ones, they make ice cream to die for! I obtained an ice cream maker from Freecycle last year, it's small, but I don't use it often enough to warrent getting a new one. I stew the blackberries without water or sugar, and pass them through a sieve to get rid of the pips. The fruit pulp is then sweetened to taste, well a bit more than that , because the cold dulls the flavour, so it needs to be quite sweet really. Then I just add cream, chill and make into ice cream. One batch did us 5 small servings, but it's a luxury product, so you don't need (get) much!
The grape vine is going mad, I seem to be out there every day cutting back the shoots, but the grapes are doing well. I wondered if I'd left too many, but they are a small variety, so I think they are on track. They won't be ripe enough to eat until the end of September.
I've now harvested my red onions, some are very small, but I have a few decent sized bulbs. As I wanted them for use in salads, the size is not so crucial, I can just use a couple at a time. I have some more coming on from a later sowing. I think I will leave these in the seed trays to form small sets, and then plant next year to see if I get bigger bulbs. I did that one year and it worked, so fingers crossed.
On the flower front, some of the carnations are now in flower, I did wonder if I'd get any this year! They are quite small, not much bigger than pinks, but very pretty. I let the pot marigolds get ahead of me, I didn't dead head them enough, so most of them have stopped flowering and set seed. I should get a number of self sown ones next year though, perhaps enough to try out the hand cream recipe!
The roses keep sending out new blooms, I have been keeping them deadheaded, and the summer flowering clematis is looking good. One of my 'large double' fuschias appears to be Mrs Popple, or a simaliar variety, a single, red and purple flower. It is covered with blooms, and looks very good, but what with white instead of purple petunias, and some plants dying off on me anyway, I am going to stick to my resolve not to buy plants by mail order next year, as these were from a reputable mail order company!
I have a pot containing a dahlia, a sweet pea and a fushia, all are doing well, I've had loads of flowers on the sweet pea, again essential to deadhead to keep it going. There is a little mildew on the leaves, but I'll leave it unless the flowers stop. They have a lovely scent.
Every time I go to sit in the garden, I see something else to do!

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