So the first weekend of June turns out to be a mixed bag of sunny spells and heavy showers, which means running in and out of the garden trying to make the best of the drier moments!
Last weekend I planted out the main tomato crop and so this weekend I needed to make sure that the remaining “bush” tomatoes joined them. I planted most of them in tubs and a couple as hanging baskets – let’s see how they manage. They are “cherry” types so hopefully will be more resilient to any erratic watering at my hands.
The peas and beans are doing well. At the moment the only care they need is a little gentle encouragement up the supports. Some of the beans have already reached the top of their canes, so I’ve trimmed the tops . The peas look particularly happy with lots of flowers and “pea pods” – there should be a good crop, if I can keep the pigeons and snails off them!
The recent rain and warm weather has been good for the garden; the salad crops are coming on well, the first courgette flower has appeared and the first strawberry has ripened – it tasted delicious (gardener’s perk!)
This growing spurt has reminded me to start the comfrey fertiliser. I have 2 large mature plants growing at the back of the rhododendron border which are quite pretty in their own right and also make a great, nitrogen rich, fertiliser. Apparently it also makes a good herbal tea but I’m from Yorkshire and so like my tea the traditional way. Making the liquid fertiliser is very easy; you just shred the leaves and steep in water for a few weeks. I put mine into an old composting bin which I keep between the new “Hot Bin” and the water butts. As I make it every year, I just top up whatever is left from last year last and when I need it dilute it at about 1 in 10 with rain water. As my plants well established I can cut them right back and they will give me two or three crops for the fertiliser bin.
The rhubarb growth is definitely slowing down and so I’ll probably only get a few sticks more this year. I’ll make sure that I get the last few juicy pink stems to make some rhubarb gin, it only take 4 weeks and so we will be enjoying this on the warm summers evenings to come. I’ve put the recipe in the recipe section along with the rest of my favourite rhubarb recipes. I’ve also added a great recipe for asparagus and goat’s cheese tart. One of the first things I did when I bought this house 3 years ago was to put in a small asparagus bed of 3 plants and this year we have had a bumper crop.
My favourite way to eat the spears is pan-fried in olive oil with some balsamic vinegar added towards the end and a sprinkling of sea salt – great with salmon (and mixed with peas later in the season).
In between the showers, and taking care not to compact the soggy soil, I’ve sown more carrots, beetroot, salad (rocket, spinach, leaves & radish), mange tout and chillies, as well as transplanting the sweetcorn. The flowers for the tubs and borders are sitting outside hardening off and will be planted next weekend…all being well.