What a lot of rain we had last weekend! I know bank holidays have a bit of a reputation, but that was just silly!
I was really worried for my newly-planted tomatoes, but on returning to the plot mid-week it looked like they enjoyed all the rain - they're looking much healthier already.
The rain did a nice job of settling in the petunias round the asparagus bed too. I planted them out a week ago but they didn't like the experience much - when I left them they were all limp and flopped over, and I thought they'd all die. They're growing strong now, apart from a little slug damage.
They're there essentially because I read somewhere that they repel asparagus beetles. I planted some there mid-season last year and saw a small decrease in my terrible infestation. This year I haven't seen a single beetle yet, so I'm wondering if just having had them in the soil previously has made a difference. The only other thing I did that could possibly have helped was to thoroughly weed and till the ground midwinter, to wake up any overwintering bugs early, but that wouldn't have stopped new ones arriving.
These petunias are a bright red variety (I hate those mixed-colour trays you get full of pinks and purples!) and grown from seed. Twenty four plants! I'm very proud of myself because my attempts last year failed completely!
I planted a row of parsley between the asparagus rows too, for the same reason. It'll all look rather pretty I think, when everything gets going!
The pond really enjoyed its rainwater top-up too. The level was getting worryingly low - I was starting to wonder how I could top it up myself without upsetting the balance of things, but there's no need now - it was actually overflowing after the rain!
Sadly the rain wasn't all good - it brought the slugs out in their droves and it has become painfully clear the tinfoil brassica collars make no difference to them whatsoever. Another bad year ahead for brassicas, I suspect...
I shall have to try nematodes again. I had a go last year but found the stuff really difficult to use and didn't notice much effect, but my Mum swears by them so perhaps I'll give them another go.
The wind snapped the stem of one of my courgette plants too. I heaped some earth up round the damage to give it a chance to put some more roots out and it seems to be doing all right so far. Time will tell...
And the wind and rain made a right mess of the broad beans - they'd flopped over all over the place. So I ran a couple of strings round them to hold the plants up together in a bunch. They're starting to grow little beanlets now - better late than never. Blackfly are making a meal of the tips, and dozens of ladybirds are making a meal of the blackfly!
I've been quite surprised at the beauty of the broad bean flowers, and the curious way the beans grow upright out of them! I don't think I've seen a broad bean plant before - I don't know what I was expecting.
I've been busy planting some other things out too; first the leeks in two rows alongside the parsnips, carrots and onions. I had trouble raising the seedlings last year (damn cats) so this year I bought a pack of 60 plants from Mr Fothergills; 20 'Lancia', for eating young in summer and autumn, 20 'Pandora' which mature in late summer and autumn, and 20 'Bandit' which should stand through winter and well into spring. I didn't have room for all of them (and I really don't think Eddie and I eat 60 leeks in a year!) so I just squished in as many as I could, alternating the 'Lancia' with the 'Pandora' in one row and with the 'Bandit' in the other. When I've pulled all the early 'Lancia', the later varieties will have more space to mature. Magic!
Next the cucumbers and butternut squash, which are to be trained up obelisks (fingers crossed). I've lost a couple of cucumber seedlings lately to damping-off and started some more which I'll plant out as soon as they're big enough. Looking on the bright side I guess it will spread my harvest a bit later. There are some spaghetti squash to go in the empty part of this bed too as soon as I have time to build the last two obelisks!
And finally, at long last, the beans. I started these at home ages ago and they've been getting so big they were trying to climb each other! Now all I have to do is pray the slugs don't kill them all off...
There are at least six plants each of six varieties. Not enough in my opinion; I LOVE french beans. I might start some in a pot at home too I think, since it doesn't look like I'll get round to doing everything I want to do on the plot this year, again. I'm starting to fear the 'spare' bed, which I was going to use for some extra squashes and beans, won't even get dug. And it's getting rather late in the season for my flower and herb borders.
It'll be different next year...
I wonder if I'll say that every year...