Garden 101 Blog

A week in the garden: 8 August 2020

Lots to catch up on this week given my month-long absence!

Tomatoes are beginning to ripen

Let’s start with the tomatoes, which are now beginning to ripen. This year has been an odd year on the tomato front. When we all went into lockdown back in March, I was on the cusp of ordering my seeds, which became very difficult, very quickly. Given that getting onto any seed selling website became nearly impossible as, seemingly, everyone in the country became interested in gardening, I re-used last year’s mystery tomato seeds. After a few weeks, no germination. Not even one.

Devastation.

So I planted some more. I would say that at this point, two or three started to germinate, but was I satisfied? Obviously not. When the garden centres opened, I purchased six more plants; I also planted a slice of my favourite ‘sugardrop’ tomatoes. I’m aware that these may or may not resemble the parent plan, but worth a try!

At this point, everything germinated all at once. The six garden centre tomatoes are doing the best, but at this point I have around twenty tomato plants – bring on the homegrown tomato sauces. I’ve been pinching out and staking and feeding and loving, and I can’t wait to begin that harvest!

Sweetcorn silks
Sweetcorn silks

Next, sweetcorn. A month ago, they weren’t yet a metre high, but they’re now as big as I am (5’5, in case you were wondering – the beauty of being British is using both metric and imperial measurements in one sentence without flinching). On most plants, we have tassels (the male bit at the top) and silks (the female bit at the side that turns into a corn cob). The sweetcorn have been planted in a grid for easy pollination, but I’ve still been doing a bit of hand pollination every time I walk past and some of the silks are starting to turn brown, which is great. Sweetcorn is on the way.

I’m really pleased with the cucamelons as well. It’s my first year growing cucamelons, but I think they might be come a garden staple. Next year, I would like to grow crystal apple cucumbers as well. The ‘regular’ cucumbers (variety: Telegraph improved) are doing well; they seem to have taken over the greenhouse, but they’re welcome to it if it means endless cucumbers. I think they’re one of my most favourite things in the garden, especially in this heat.

Lots of basil for pesto making
Climbing basil mountain in search of great pesto

We’ve made pesto from the basil, which has gone nuts in the greenhouse. We balanced the basil pots on open grow bags when there wasn’t space elsewhere; however, this seems to have been a happy accident, as the roots have grown into the grow bags and now we have monster basil. There’ll be more pesto before summer is done.

The only bad news on the plot is that we had to take all the peas up due to a monster covering of powdery mildew. We had a good run from them though, so I’m not too upset about that really. It’s also given us space to put in something else (there’s leeks and cabbage waiting).

A ladybird sheds its outer layer on the beans
A ladybird shedding its outer layer on my beans

Finally, the runner beans are growing at an alarming rate! We had a little trouble harvesting at first, because of the ladybirds that we released earlier in the summer. There was a huge aphid infestation in the beans, so I released something like fifty ladybird larvae into the beans. As they grow, they shed their outer layer a few times and I kept finding that they were doing this on the beans. There were also lots of larvae that are quite difficult to move without hurting. I didn’t like to disturb them, so I’ve been harvesting around them, which is more of a challenge than it sounds.

Overall, everything is coming along nicely. The heat isn’t causing too many problems, except that I have to keep watering everything, but if it helps everything to ripen, I can at least take solace in that as I melt in the house.

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