Pests and Produce
Updated: Jun 23
I'm running late with my updates.
The weather in May was extremely hot and sunny, I don't think we got a drop of rain all month, which meant some challenging times in the garden. With lockdown continuing I've been growing far more than usual from seed, plus lots of vegetables in containers, but of course all of those need regular watering. The heat has brought out the garden pests as well and I try to avoid chemical solutions so I've spent lots of time squashing them by hand or occasionally spraying them with jets of water to try to keep them under control.
Left: greenfly on rose bush. Right: scale insects on blackcurrant stems. These look like small lumps on the stem itself, but they'll suck the sap and damage the plant if you don't get rid of them.
Ants have made a nest in one of my compost bins, so my usual three bin system is down to two bins at the moment. The reduced capacity is yet another challenge - although the local household waste and recycling centre has reopened queues have been up to 2 hours long - but I'm managing by chopping my prunings so that they take up less space and putting mown grass directly onto my borders as a mulch. In the meantime I do quite enjoy spying on the ants from time to time:
Early on in the month I did a thorough check through all the old seed packets which I've been gifted or received free with magazines over the years. To my amazement they were all still in date! Along with a few seed potatoes, tomato and bean plants which I bought just before lockdown, and some potatoes which had started sprouting in my cupboard, I've got quite a decent vegetable patch this year. Of course I quickly ran out of space in my raised bed so at the moment they're in a variety of pots, growbags and re-used compost bags:
Left to right and top to bottom: rainbow chard seeds ready to go into raised bed; first batch of lettuce ready for picking individual leaves; mint, sage and chives; first signs of carrots; sprouting potato skins (planted early in the month, now growing strongly in old compost bags); dibbing holes for courgette seeds; broad beans; tomatoes in greenhouse and pots.
It's not just vegetables which are growing well. My orchard trees are still quite young and most of their fruit fell off but my bushes are doing well. Squirrels were starting to take an interest in my blueberries so I've had to move the first batch of containers into my trusty pop-up fruit cage, but I'll create a separate blog post about that.
Finally, a quick gallery of what's blooming in terms of flowers at the moment:
Left to right and top to bottom: white and pink astrantia ('April Love' and 'Roma'); old washstand turned into a container; snowberry flowers are barely open but already attracting bees; 2 salvias ('Amistad' and 'Black and blue'); potato vine (Solanum crispum 'Glasnevin'); citrus flower (orange, variety unknown); mum's rose (transplanted from my late mum-in-law's garden and much loved for the way it bears 3 different colours of rose in profusion, variety unknown); rose 'Lady of Shallott', Hydrangea 'The Bride'; fuchsia 'Hawkshead', Halimiocistus Sahucii; dogwood flowers ('Midwinter fire', the flowers are insignificant at a distance but rather pretty close up); Leptospermum scoparium 'kiwi'; Sambucus nigra blossom; old water feature turned into container; Malvastrum lateritium; Escallonia.