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Can it get wetter?

It’s pretty hard to believe this is July. I thought June was awful, well it was the wettest on record, and that July would have to be better. Ha! What fools we mortals be. Luckily for us, the massive storm dumping all of July’s normal rainfall in a day skirted around us but it’s not exactly been fun here.

The plants are suffering in this weather, they’re not just cold and wet but the nutrients, especially nitrogen, are just being washed from the soil. Being in a rural area, our newsagent stocks the farmers’ newspapers and occasionally I pick one up just out of interest and to ogle the tractors. OK, some blokes like sports cars, I like tractors. Anyway, the lead story in the Farmer’s Guardian is how the weather is causing problems for the arable farmers – in particular potato growers.

Where they have managed to get crops planted and they’ve not been drowned out, they’re not bulking up as normal.So be prepared for further price rises in staples like potatoes throughout the year. It’s an incentive to put that extra effort into plot even though the weather is against us.

Tomatoes

It’s not all bad news, my greenhouse tomatoes are doing very nicely thanks. Even these would benefit from a bit of sunshine to ripen though. We’ve had our first cucumber of the year. I meant to take a photo as it was a rather fine looking one but it got eaten first. Actual taste again after supermarket water-tubes that pass for cucumbers, bliss.

Potatoes

They’re bulking up now. Plenty of water so that’s not the problem – it’s the cold weather. I’ve not actually spoken to a grower who’s happy with potatoes this year. The main thing to do is extra feed. If you’ve comfrey liquid then that’s perfect to help them along.

We’ve had a few reasonable days and I’ve managed to get some jobs done outside. The last of the six permanent deep raised beds is now finished. This will have brassicas in it. You might recall my moaning about the sheep getting into the vegetable area and snacking on the brassica seedling salad bar? Well, the survivors were doing fairly well until the slugs arrived and ate half of them.

I’ve not known such a bad year for slugs, even the rubbish July of 2007 was better than this. I’d scattered slug pellets but they’d eaten those and it’s like one of those horror films where the monsters keep on coming no matter how many you kill.

I’ve had the hawthorns taken down. My pal reckoned I was just nibbling at the edges of the problem and the real answer was to be ruthless. So with a roaring chain saw he went into battle. They’ve been cut back to six feet high and he swears they’ll bush out in no time. My head knows he’s right but it’s hard to be so vicious. We’ll plant some more hedging between them come the autumn.

My problem is that I’ve now got a huge, and I mean huge, mountains of prickly trimmings to get rid of. I’m cutting out pieces that are worth it for the woodburner but that’s a time consuming job in itself.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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