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Summer overflow!

Nature is burgeoning, blooming and over-flowing all over the garden. Even though this happens every year, it is still a re-assuring surprise to see the power nature has to transform bare soil into vegetation and ….food. Here is what you see when you enter the garden gate, first looking west and second looking south.

This year the trees have really begun to look like trees. After just 5 years from being planted, 25 cm has become 5 meters. It's great to see even the walnuts are now “taking off” - putting on a meter or more of new growth every year.

Looking around the garden, we now have the sprouting broccoli (for next spring) well and truly under-way after being planted out in its protective net cages. So far, so good; neither birds nor butterflies have broken in. You can see a nice row of new lettuce growing fast beside the netted cage.

Next we come to some of the parsnips and the pink beetroot – both growing like crazy. Neither plant is vulnerable to insect, pest or disease although the field voles do like the occasional nibble at the beetroot. The broccoli grows very fast and will fill the cages before the end of summer.

On the other side of the path we have great crops of runner beans and sweet corn. Both have survived several summer gales and there is now a mass of deep red flowers spread over the full loom of string supports. Perhaps you can see now why such strong supports are needed with this huge heavy blanket of lush greenery which makes what amounts to a large sail if the winds begin to blow.

Down at the west end of the garden the courgettes and pumpkins are doing what courgettes and pumpkins to – swallowing up everything around them with serious “attitude”. They really are super-vigorous plants. Next to them is the fennel.

In the southern garden we have harvested the early potatoes now – they were getting blight anyway. They are now in dark storage. Harvesting is quite a long job – certainly a couple of hours – but it's easy to dig over and rotavate afterwards to keep the weeds at bay. This lovely bare soil will soon be covered in a dense crop of the annual weeds – chickweed, groundsel, dead nettle, etc... I am always very careful to pick out all the couch grass (wicken or scutch – depending where you live), using a fork to avoid chopping up the ferocious rhizomes.

This year I have sown a fine crop of curly kale. Amazingly this hardly ever gets attacked by the white butterflies and it make a great source of healthy greens during winter.

In the greenhouse the tomato plants are now over 6 feet high, hanging heavily on their strong string supports and leaden down with (as yet) unripe fruit. The grape vine has been eager to take over the whole warm space despite being cut back regularly. This year it must have over 50 bunches of grapes which are just turning to the lovely tasty purple before we begin to enjoy them next month.

Just in case you need reminding, there is a lot of work to be done in the kitchen when the harvest season begins. My aim is always to try and get harvested food processed on the same day it has been picked. Freshness really matters! Sometimes this means spending a long evening, for example, top and tailing gooseberries or sorting out red/black currants before freezing. Sometimes it means getting out the big pan and having a serious session blanching greens, carrots or parsnips. Sometimes it means getting out the blender to make pesto. We are half way through the season now – all the black and red currants have been picked, also the strawberries, gooseberries and smooth stemmed blackberries (a great crop this!). We have 15 jars of wonderful pesto in the fridge and dozens of bags of soft fruits in the deep freeze.


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