Everything is ripening.
Strawberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, peas, broad beans, courgettes, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, spring onions, basil, salads, and herbs, just some of the fruit and vegetables being harvested from the gardens indoors and outdoors at the moment. We are reaping the benefits of all the hard work in the autumn and the spring when the soil was cultivated and fertilised with the school’s well-rotted organic compost. The wonderful warm weather we’ve been having during the month of June has helped too, enhancing growth rates and ripening delicious fruits.
Ridge Support for Runner Beans.
The field outside the glasshouse is filling up, a new ridge support structure has been built for the runner beans; with the threat of frost over since the end of May, they will do well outdoors now. The leeks have been transplanted from their seedbed in the glasshouse to the field outside and to the Kitchen garden, they were planted in a hole made by the dibber, watered in and left to grow and blanch. Some have been planted on flat ground and some in drills; it will be interesting to see how their growth compares. Sunflowers are being planted out and the pumpkins will be planted through the covering of mypex to reduce weeds and protect the crop. In this area also, a crop of wheat is growing for use in the Cookery School.
We have a new ‘no dig’ area in the field. The soil was tilled in the autumn, and received a generous top dressing of organic compost; it was then covered with a plastic membrane during the winter months. This month, onions, lettuce, spring onions, parsley, florence fennel and leeks have been planted directly into the soil without any digging. The humus, with its vital nutrients and ability to retain moisture has proved its worth during this month’s very warm spell and the plants showed no sign of stress due to lack of moisture. This is a new project for us so time will tell; if this might be the way forward in the vegetable gardens.
Stale Seed Bed
On the other side of the field, another experiment is ongoing; the ‘stale seed bed’ method of weed control is in progress, the area has not been cultivated; it has received a generous top dressing of well-rotted organic compost, once the area receives a few days rain, we wait for the weed seeds to germinate (7-10 days). The weeds will then be removed by hoeing. This area is being prepared for winter onions, by eliminating the weeds before planting, we will hopefully improve the yield of onions, weeds are a problem with an onion crop, as they have no foliage cover to deter weed growth.
In the kitchen garden, despite the shade this garden suffers during the latter part of the day, growth has been phenomenal. Broad beans, florence fennel, onions, and potatoes are being harvested here. Green manures such as: clover, buckwheat and lupins have been sown in areas of ground which are not in use and are also in need of nitrogen. This will be dug in before the crop goes to seed. The addition of metal wigwam supports adds height to the end bed; they’ve been planted with runner beans and sweet pea. During the very warm weather the vegetable beds were mulched with harvested comfrey, it was spread between the plants, this was done to help retain moisture in the soil; it also acts in preventing weeds set seed and the nutrients from the comfrey leach into the soil. Comfrey is a multipurpose perennial plant used by our gardeners, useful as a mulch, a liquid feed, compost accelerator and of course the bees love their purple flowers.
The herbaceous borders leading up to the shell house are magnificent with colour; the annuals raised indoors have been planted out. Perennials such as, Bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis), Jerusaleum sage (Phlomis russeliana), Giant knotweed (Centaurea macrocephala), Yellow loosestrife (Lysmachia vulgaris) and Geranium ‘Johnsons Blue’ a few of the plants in flower.
In this part of the garden, the wild flower meadow is dotted with a beautiful array of colour and the Celtic maze has come into its own, it’s a race to the centre!
In our glasshouse, the warm spell has added to the already favourable growing conditions and the effects are to be seen, the bays are filled with delicious edibles, tomatoes, basil (different varieties, e.g. thai, lemon), broad beans, peas, carrots, cucumbers, courgettes, salad leaves, chard, beetroot, peaches and nectarines are being harvested. A new method of training peppers and peas is being tried and a new crop of chickpeas has been planted. The vines and kiwi plants are laden with fruit. The new vines for wine making are growing well in their new environment. In the roof above, the winter onions are suspended, drying out.
As you enter the Old Pleasure garden, the scent that greets you on these warm sunny days is that of the Mock Orange (Philadelphus), the shrub is covered in a mass of delicate white blossoms. Just in front of it is, the Cornus capitata with its showy creamy/white bracts. Across the path is St. John’s Wort ‘Hidcote’ (Hypericum) in all its glory with beautiful yellow blossoms flowering all summer long.