We started this month riding on the high of an unusually warm spring, and with all of the vigorous growth that brings. Since then, June has seen deluges and thunderstorms, and more recently soaring temperatures in the early thirties! And yet while I have at times struggled with the whiplash of this month’s extremes, the garden, on the whole, has loved it.
Yes, there have been a few hairy moments where we’ve had to spring to the rescue of a wilting plant or two, but overall, the growth we have seen this month has been enormously healthy. I am sure that if I had stood still and watched, I could have seen the Uchiki Kuri squash actually grow, from around 2ft high at the start of this month, to the point where we can no longer reach to help weave it around the support – let alone do the hand pollination I have been doing up to this point.
The tomatoes and cucumbers are growing strongly too. Five varieties of tomato were already outside at the start of this month, and now they are all bearing fruit at various stages. The Tigerella are the most far forward, with some fruits already ripening in the summer sun. It seems far earlier than last year, even taking into account my planting them in early February inside. The cucumbers are growing even faster than the squash, have now successfully cleared the top shelf in the greenhouse, and aren’t far off the roof. I don’t know what we will do when they reach the top.
This month has also seen our first meaningful harvests since the purple sprouting broccoli in early spring – the hungry gap is well and truly over. With salad leaves, cucumbers, radishes, courgettes and berries all ready to pick and eat – along with the first carrots, potatoes and shallots, we are tantalisingly close to not needing to buy any fruits or vegetables.
There has been work to do too. The first garlic bulbs are harvested and dried for storing, and the winter vegetables have been pricked out into their own pots – soon to be planted out. There have also been seeds to sow: for successional crops of lettuce, radish and carrots, and for autumn and winter harvests of red cabbage, cauliflowers and calabrese broccoli. I’ll keep sowing the salad crops through the summer, and hopefully I’ll be harvesting them into autumn, while I wait for the winter vegetables to take over.