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Joys of July

July has been one of those weird months, alternating between sweltering hot and drenched with some really quite cool weather thrown in. Most of the garden seems happy with the mix, however.

My main job this month has been installing a path from our side gate into our garden. It was very heavy work which meant I had to do it when it was overcast or during the brief hour in the morning when that area is in shade, so it took about 2 weeks off and on. It needed doing because the amount of wear had caused the soil to become compacted and the grass to die. As you can see I went with large stepping stones set into the grass on either side so that DH can mow over them:

In the kitchen garden I've harvested all of my blackcurrants, blueberries, gooseberries and jostaberries as well as a number of new potatoes, cabbages, lettuce, radishes and turnips. I've got my second sowings of sugar snap peas coming along nicely, as are my runner beans, swede, onions and salsify. The first of my tomatoes have ripened, although I was dismayed this year to find that a number were affected by blossom end rot for the first time in my garden. I've read various theories as to what causes this but the consensus seems to be that the root cause is inconsistent watering, which I'm surprised about because I'm pretty careful about that, but perhaps the days of incessant rain upset the cycle. I made my blackcurrants into a compote which I add to natural yoghurt, I've always loved blackcurrant yoghurt but it's very hard to find these days so at least I can enjoy my own for a couple of months every year (recipe here:

Left to right: jostaberries, blueberries, cabbage and seeds, tomato "indigo rose" (an unusual black variety)

My flowering shrubs and perennials are growing like crazy, with plants which have been small or medium sized in previous years suddenly towering to above 2 metres. Again I think the weather is the cause, although I confess I've been using a multi purpose fertiliser every other week which I don't normally bother with. This may have backfired on me as some of the plants are a bit too large for their settings, and I have a phlox which has grown vigorously but is refusing to flower despite the fact that another a few feet away is blooming beautifully:

Left to right and top to bottom: crazy large buddlejas x 3, calendula, lavatera clementii, sunflower, gourd grown from tiny plug plant, flowering phlox, non-flowering phlox

Other key events were when my husband was repairing the roof of our summer house and laid the felt out on our lawn to warm up. It was only there for a couple of hours but it warmed up so much it scorched the grass and looked like a landing strip for light aircraft! Fortunately a couple of days of torrential rain led to a quick recovery. And if you follow my facebook or instagram pages you may recognise this frog, which my kitten chased into my bedroom early one morning; getting into a dressing gown, down the stairs, unlocking a door and walking out to the pond all with a frog in one hand turns out to be quite a skill :-).


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