Sunday, 10 June 2012

June Storms

Recently we've had some pretty changeable weather to deal with.  We've had a 10 day summer inbetween lots of unseasonally cool days, followed by lots of rain and then an intense windy storm.

I hope you all fared better than me with the storms!

Prior to our 10 days of summer, I had put fleece over all my germinating seeds to stop the birds from eating them before they got a chance to sprout.  And then the sun came.  With high temperatures averaging 26 degrees C.  The week before we'd had temps around 12 C.  I took the decision to keep them veiled with their fleece as I thought the sun might scorch them and I think I was the only person waiting for that heat wave to end to unveil my little beauties!

And it really did feel like unveiling my patch!  All of a sudden the areas I'd planted were fully populated with seedlings of salad, roots, onions, radishes (including baby rat tail radishes), leeks and the peas finally germinated.

On Jubilee weekend I decided its now June - I can start planting the tenders out.  Naturally I made some bunting with some ribbon, old scraps of blue/white/red cloth and my sewing machine so the whole weekend was not just dedicated to gardening but I did find myself (inbetween watching the Jubilee celebrations on TV) trying to make a start on planting the tenders out. 

I planted out 4 sunflowers, 12 french beans and 4 winter squash.  I didn't have quite enough time to plant out the tomatoes and the remaining winter squash and sunflowers.  I also left some flowers to plant out later.  They were all residing in my plastic greenhouse.

Then the rain came down, and it carried on coming down all week ending in a great big finale of a storm on Friday with very high winds.  I came home to find the greenhouse flat on the floor.  We were devastated!  We love tomatoes!!! 

I rescued all the seedlings one by one, my boyfriend helped me with the carnage.  It was hard work as I'd just come down with a cold and cancelled a weekend to London where I would have been helping my friends at Transition Town Wandsworth's Bramford Community Gardens with their Open Squares event. 

I moved them all the rescued seedlings into a shed, safe from the wind and naturally lost a few squash and some sunflowers - surprisingly all the tomatoes escaped unharmed.

Yesterday, I inspected the veg patch after the winds and all the supports were fine - naturally my boyfiend had done a sterling job with the plant supports a week earlier.  I only had one casualty on the plot - one of the winter squash had perished in the Friday storms.  Luckily I had germinated two of this italian pumpkin variety and this was one variety that had not perished in the greenhouse calamity.  So despite all the drama, I think the population of veg with all the heritage varieties amongst them had lucky escapes.

(I do realise in the grand scheme these are small problems in contrast to the people in Wales who had their homes completely flooded)

However, after all the doom, gloom and vegetable carnage, yesterday was a pleasantly sunny day with the elder flower in bloom and the blackberry bushes budding up with their flowers of promise.  So it was a day of planting - all the tomatoes are now in the new, slightly more secure home of the veg patch (that is providing we don't have another blight epidemic this year and with recent weather patterns this is highly likely!)

And today we are blessed with another sunny day - I really hope it follows true to the forecast today as they are predicting light showers in the evening.  If it remains I shall be planting out all the remaining seedlings currently in refuge in the shed and any seedlings that haven't made it will be laid to rest in my wormery to help those who made it with nutritious worm tea and worm cast!

I do hope the weather's going to start to be a little kinder to gardeners - it must be really challenging for those of us who are just starting out.


  1. Hey Claire, that's an eventful couple of weeks you've had there!

    I was thinking earlier, in a moment of glumness, that this might be the hardest season I've had in the 5 or so of growing.

    My toms and cues are really struggling, and all my tender crops, like squashes, that I put in thinking it was going to stay warm are looking really ill now the temp has dropped again.

    I had this moment where I thought this year was almost a write off before its begun. I'm considering only growing half as much as normal, and just consolidating the easy stuff.

    Tough times!

  2. It will be a tough year for squashes, no doubt about it. About the only cucurbita species that will thrive with these low temperatures is chilacayote, C. ficifolia. It's an enormous brute of a plant with lovely decorative melon like fruits and black seeds. The young fruit are sweet and tender and nice fried. The mature ones are rock hard and keep for several years and male lovely ornaments.