Garden 101 Blog

A week in the garden: 28 June 2020

Highlight of the week – homemade strawberry and redcurrant jam

I do feel like I might have neglected the garden a little this week, but everything seems to be ticking away nicely, so a little potter here and there has been enough to keep it going. Keep picking the peas and strawberries, try not to let the weeds get out of control and, of course, water, water, water. This has been more important than ever, as we had the hottest day of the year so far, hitting around 31 degrees! Extraordinary. Fortunately, we have had a bit of rain, which means the water butts are at least a third full – higher than it has been lately, while we seem to be going through a dry spell.

Thanks to the dry weather and hot sun, all the romanescos have now bolted and the cauliflowers are on their way out, too. I still managed to make ‘romanesco cheese’ (i.e. cauliflower cheese with romanescos), which was great – highly recommend – and it does mean that I have another spare bed for the ever increasing amount of things in the greenhouse that need to go in the ground.

The BIG news of the week was that we had our first jam-making day – strawberry and redcurrant jam, which was a favourite from last year. Redcurrants have a high level of pectin, which helps the jam set, so you don’t need to add any of your own. I was really pleased to be able to collect 1.25kg of redcurrants off the bush, given that it was almost decimated by an aphid infestation earlier in the year (you can read about how I tackled that with ladybirds here). I had, however, forgotten what a tedious job is it to pick and remove stems from redcurrants, but we managed to entertain ourselves with three episode of The Thick of It (I missed it the first time round, but it’s now a current fave – not for the faint hearted / easily offended).

I’ve tried making a banana fertiliser this week, which I’ve never come across before, but I saw one of my fellow gardeners on Instagram doing it and there were a lot of people saying how well it worked for them. All I did was chop a banana skin up and leave it in a closed jar of water for a few days. It came out like syrup! I’ve got a bit of an experiment on the go now to see whether it makes a difference. There are two aubergine plants, which were planted at the same time, under the same conditions. They were moved at the same time to the same spot, so they get the same sun, same wind and same watering. The difference is that one is now getting a banana feed and the other isn’t. In an ideal world, I’d have another getting a normal tomato or seaweed feed – I do have another aubergine plant (in the greenhouse) and might set that up this week if I get round to it.

We also (finally) took delivery of a small Chilean Guava plant, which I’m really looking forward to next year, and I’ll be planting that in something a bit larger during the coming week or so and tell you more about that, then.

Other aims for this week are to feed everything while it continues to fruit (that’s courgettes, cucumber, strawberries, chillis, cucamelons, etc) and keep the weeds under control. I need to give it all a good going over with a hoe! There’s also purple sprouting brocolli, kale and savoy cabbages in the greenhouse that urgently need planting out.

Finally, my big task for the week is to move my compost heap. My compost heap started well, but it’s open to the air and doesn’t have any sides. A heap, in its most literal sense. I’ve bought a new composter, which arrived a few days ago, so now I can start moving the heap by hand into its new home. Unfortunately, it really does need to be moved by hand, as not only is it a mess (things love growing in there), there was at least one hedgehog living in it throughout the winter and the last thing I need is a skewered ‘hog!

Have a great week everyone, whatever you’re doing!

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