I find myself stuck indoors today due to the tail-end of Hurricane Bertha heaving her way across the country, having almost completed her Atlantic journey from the Caribbean. In spite of this, we’re at a hiatus in the year that is high summer. The bird song has subsided to the odd twitter here and there, the focus now being on feeding themselves up while shedding old feathers and growing new ones in preparation for winter.
The crops are ripe enough to be harvested, so recent evenings have been marked by the distant grumblings of combine harvesters working ‘til the small hours, bringing home another year’s crop. In the hedgerows and woodlands, berries are forming by the day, (the daily tell-tale blackberry stains on my fingers are a testament to that) and the green hues of the leaves have got that much darker and the grass browner, although, this year things seem to have remained greener than usual, thanks to a regular gift of rainfall. Again, the show of native flowers has changed for the next act, with plants such as Willowherb, Sorrel, Dock, Hogweed and Fleabane providing food for the seasonaly increasing number of insects.
My experiment with saving the seeds from last year’s sweet peas seems to have worked. I shall try it again this autumn, but I think I’ll add some other seeds to the mix as there seems to be quite a dominance of one colour rather than the variety of the year before.
The greenhouse is now coming in to its own. I’ve more cucumbers than I know what to do with; friends and neighbours are politely featuring them in meals as a way of distributing the surplus bounty. Tomatoes are ripening steadily, and I’ve been impressed with a variety that’s new to me called Roma. It’s a reasonably good cropper and has a beautiful tomatoey taste, especially when just picked. When the home-grown tomatoes run out, it’s often an underwhelming experience to eat most shop-bought ones. I’ve grown melons too, but I fear that it’ll more than likely end in disappointment. Growing melons in the UK is quite an optimistic activity at the best of times, but my greenhouse doesn’t get a long enough period in full sun, and I did hear that this year has seen lower light levels than ‘average’. Still, there’s time, and, being a glass half-full sort of a person, I shall keep the faith. Next year I think I shall have a go at the old Victorian method of using hot beds, which basically entails growing them in a deep, raised bed that has lots of manure in the bottom half, generating heat, therefore encouraging growth of plants more suited to a more exotic climate than the British Isles.
Another project for next year will be to put up another polytunnel. I did have one until a couple of years ago but, on a day not unlike today, it slipped its moorings after a strong gust of wind, ending up in the neighbouring field. I tried, in vain, to salvage what I could but to no avail. Next time I shall pay more attention to it’s safe anchorage.
Anyway, successes and failures all make up life’s pageant and, as ever with gardening, there’s always next year.