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July 2011 Update

July 18, 2011

My Claber irrigation kit was put to full use in my greenhouse while we were away on holiday for a week, at the start of this month. It performed beautifully.

Now I’m back in the ‘loop’ I’ve adopted the policy of letting the irrigation kit take care of the main watering, every morning, and I then follow this up with a light water & feed, for each plant that needs it, each evening.

In the veg patch, things in general are progressing well. I’ve been fighting an ongoing battle with slugs and snails who have taken a firm liking to my newly planted swedes (‘Old Jake’). There were raised in modules, brought on in 3-inch pots and only transplanted into their final position in my beds when quite large – even so they have been hammered by slugs and, during a recent chicken escape, by the chooks too.

I’ve been trying beer traps for the slugs – they are partially successful, in that they catch and kill some slugs – but they are plainly not getting all the culprits. I’m very loath to use slug pellets of any kin – but may have to resort to an organic pellet of some description if I can’t keep control…

The Swedes went straight in after I harvested my over-wintered garlic. I now have over 40 fabulous garlic bulbs curing in the garage. This was the first time that I’ve ever grown garlic, and it’s been just a huge success.

We are still munching though our first early spuds, and the second earlies are now ready for digging whenever they are needed. As I’m digging out the spuds, I’m planting beetroot in their place – so hopefully I’ll be using the ground well into the autumn.

Elsewhere, the pumpkins, leeks, main-crop spuds, and parsnips are all growing well. We have just picked another large crop of rhubarb (the first was picked back in late April/ early May). The red currents have been a major success this year – nearly 4Kg to date from one bush, and still one bush to pick. The black currents have also done well – with approx 2Kg from 1 bush, and half as much again from the other two (younger) ones.

In the greenhouse, we’re now starting to pick tomatoes. The ‘Mexican Midget’ are living up to their name – they’re tiny! The real surprise to me is the ‘Arctic Circle’ variety. These are full size bush tomato plants. Highly prolific, growth wise, and fruit wise. They seem to be a terrific cropper. My ‘Gardeners Delight’ are coming on nicely as well – another few weeks for them, I think. The cucumber plant is doing well, but as it was late going in, we’re still a couple of weeks away from our first cucumber. The sweet and chilli peppers are also doing well – but will be a few weeks yet.

I spent an hour yesterday evening pruning my damson and plum trees. These were all bought as three-year old potted specimens, and planted out in 2009. However until this year they had manifestly failed to make much growth. So, this spring, I cut them all hard back in the hope of promoting some growth – ‘Cut hard to promote growth’.

In three out of the five trees it’s worked well, and the pruning that I did yesterday was for merely shaping purposes. Note – always prune damsons & plums in late spring or summer, so avoid infections which are more prevalent in winter weather.

Anyhow, I found the main stem of one of the plum trees was, unfortunately, pretty much dead – possibly due to bacterial canker – so it’ll be dug out this week. The remaining plum tree simply hadn’t responded to its spring prune, so I’ll give it one more season to do something – else it too will be meeting its maker.

On the chicken front, I finally sold my Red Sussex cock over the weekend – he’s gone to a breeder up the country, where I hope his services will be much appreciated. Now I have to decide what to do with his two young sons that are approaching 12 weeks old in the garage…will I attempt to sell them, or just fatten them for the pot?

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