Diary June 2009

Monday June 1st
Even hotter today. 29°C outsode and over 40 in the polytunnel.

Around 8:30am a van pulled up the drive. It was a worker from the water engineers I left a message with yesterday. By 9 am he had fixed the control box for the well pump and we have running water again. I cannot praise them too highly for their efficiency. All I gave them on their answer machine was my telephone number and that the pump control box wasn't working. From this they deduced who I was and from their records what was probably wrong.

Spent a lot of the afternoon catching up on the watering I couldn't do yesterday. Potted on some Busy Lizzie (Impatiens) plants for the conservatory and also so moved some of the potted begonias from the polytunnel. Most of the potted lillies in front of the house are now starting to flower and a few Sweet Williams have opened down the drive.

When it cooled a little later in the afternoon I transplanted the wild flower seedlings into 12 cell trays. These need to be grown in semi shade until I have cleared tne larger weeds from the new garden. Nettles, docks, cow parsley, lady's bedstraw, creeping buttercup and dandelions might be classified as wild flowers but I would rather have more of the smaller more colourful ones growing here instead.

Pat picked and cooked the first Aquadulce broad beans for our dinner.

Tuesday June 2nd.
A little cooler but still hot for the time of year.

It was just about cool enough (34°C and 80% humidity Cool) to manage to start training the tomatoes in the polytunnel. All three varieties have small set fruits on the lowest truss with another truss starting to flower above this. I have decided to grow them all as single stem cordons so any side stems need to be regularly removed. The Bejbino and Marmande can be grown as bushes instead but I find tbis much more difficult to control, despite them ending up growing 3m+ to the roof of the polytunnel by the end of the summer. In a warmer, more reliable climate grown outside bush training would be the better choice, but not in North Shropshire.

Sowed wallflower, sweet william and cineraria in seed trays. Only the start of June and I am already preparing for the next winter and spring flowers!

Pat picked the first courgettes, A small yellow ball variety called Floridor, and sauteed them sliced for our dinner. A variety we haven't tried before. They were delicious and there are many more already swelling for next time. there are small fruits starting to appear on the other courgettes and plenty of flowers on the squashes, even a single female flower on one of the melon plants. The bumble bees have noticed them so hopefully they will be fertilised soon.

Planted out the celery plants from their cells into the kitchen garden close to the house near the beans and peas.

Wednesday June 3rd
A much cooler day but still no rain. Spent much of the afternoon watering outside and in the polytunnel.

Thursday June 4th
Slightly more sun than yesterday but definitely much cooler than earlier in the week

Earthed up all the outdoor potatoes with compost. Needed 6 barrow-loads to do this. I must get round to doing some more shredding before we run out. Even in the middle of summer it takes at least 8 weeks to rot down enough for mulching.

Started to plant out the peppers n the polytunnel.

Picked the first cucumber and had with some Brie on a Matzo cracker for my supper

Friday June 5th
Cold and overcast morning. Warmed up a little by lunchtime but then started to rain. Not heavily but enough to thoroughly water outside.

Planted out the rest of the peppers and the aubergines. The melons and squashes are starting to climb up their frames and there are plenty of flowers on them. I noticed the first Humming Bird moth in the polytunnel. Their long tongues are very good at getting nectar from these flowers and at the same time pollinating them. Unlike cucumbers which should not be allowed to pollinate - no problem since I  always grow an all female variety.

Had the first purple top turnips and a Satelite courgette with our tea followed by more strawberries, now mainly from outside - it is a good job we never tire of them!!

Saturday June 6th
Wet, cold and windy most of the day, sometimes with quite heavy rain showers. Still, every cloud has a silver lining, even black rain clouds. All six water butts are nearly full again and I probably won't need to do any outside watering for at least the next ten days, even if this is all the rain we get (the forecast is for showers all next week). Unfortunately the heavy rain has knocked dowm some plants such as the broad beans,m but they will probably recover; they usually do.

Still plenty to do in the polytunnel. Potted on the chrysanthemum cuttings from 9cm to 14cm pots, stopping the tall growing ones for the third time and removing any tall sports from the short stemmed ones.

Sunday June 7th
More rain but less windy and not very warm with only the odd glimpse of blue sky.

Finished potting on the chrysanthemums and then moved the bedding geraniums into 9cm pots.

Monday June 8th
Stopped raining but still cool and overcast.

A good day for pulling up weeds since all this rain will have loosened their roots. So spent most of the afternoon pulling nettles, thistles and lady's bedstraw from the ditch running along the road. Weeds are successful because they grow quickly, smothering everything
else but in doing this they usually only have shallow roots. The
exceptions are those with long tap roots like dandelion, dock and cow parsley but even they can be pulled out with a sharp tug after loosening with a fork when the ground is wet. Took several barrow loads to the turf mound at the back of the garden where, after a few years they will rot and compact into a humus rich loam perfect for making potting compost.

Tuesday June 9th
The day started sunny but slowly became overcast and was raining by teatime

Pulled out the rest of the weeds from the ditch and bank along the road and then finished the last of the repotting of bedding plants, the coleus. Also planted out some begonias into 14cm pots for the conservatory. Most of the seeds I sowed in front of the greenhouse are now through.

Wednesday June 10th
Rained overnight and heavily most of the day.

Planted out the Hungarian peppers in the greenhouse. The strawberries in the polytunnel are nearly finished so decided to dig them up to make more room for the squash and courgettes. Found enout strawberries on them for our evening meal - a good job since their were very few outside with all the rain.

Thursday June 11th
The rain has cleared and it was quite mild with sunny intervals most of the day. Pat picked a few strawberries to take to work - they were much appreciated!

Having cleared most of the borders in the polytunnel spread out the remaining squashes and courgettes, half sinking the pots on the soil. The tomatoes now have fruits swelling on bottom truss, the second truss is flowering and the third truss is already showing. There is at least one fertile melon starting to swell.

Friday June 12th
A cold start but soon warmed up with sunny intervals all day.

The wallflowers have nearly finished so I pulled them up before they had chance to seed. Hopefully that cold night was the last we shall have till late in the year so filled the spaces with Nicotinias, African and French Marigolds, Petunias, Salvia and Mesembryanthemums. Tomorrow I will start to plant out the beds in the Rose Garden.

Pat weeded the onion beds. We are already pulling some of the ones planted last autumn.

Saturday June 13th
Warm and sunny all day

The recent rain has caused the potatoes to grow so quickly they need earthing up again despite only doing this less than two weeks ago. I started to do this but soon gave up when itv became too warm for such strenuous work. I will continue tomorrow morning when it is cooler.

Planted out more summer bedding in the empty beds round the roses and alongside the garage. I now have enough room to move the rest of the summer bedding plants out of the polytunnel into the cold frames.

Sunday June 14th
Sunny and warm most of the day.

Finished earthing up the potatoes in the morning. Tidied up the bed in front of the conservatory now that the daffodil haulm has died back and covered it with woven polythene. Moved the pots of lilies from the bed next to house to give the grapevines more light now they are growing well - there are already tiny buds where the bunches of grapes will form.

Cleared out the violas from the troughs and sieved the compost, adding some fresh soil and fertiliser to it and then replaced it in the troughs. Planted each trough with coleus and geraniums and either impatiens or begonias. These also went in front of the conservatory.

Rain forecast for tomorrow so decided to do some serious watering in the polytunnel.

Monday June 15th
It did rain but nothing like what was forecast. It was humid and thundery and no doubt others nearby did get drenched but we just had a short light shower. Enough to water the garden but not to refill the water butts..

Did some hoeing in the vegetable patch and the polytunnel. Boring work but essential. transplanted a few parsley seedlings into pots. These will grow outside and can be moved into the conservatory of the greenhouse in the autumn when those growing outside start to die back.

Tuesday June 16th
Back to sunny intervals and quite warm.

Not too warm to continue clearing the weeds from the new garden since this is mainly in the shade of the large oak. Most of the saplings for the new hedge are now cleared of weeds. Nearly all have taken root - the few that haven't I will replace later in the year with those I kept back in pots behind the polytunnel.

Wednesdat June 17th

Cool and drizzly with the odd sunny interval.

Did very little today as I am not feeling too good - the usual asthma, tiredness and aching. Trouble is I don't know what is causing it.

Thursday June 18th
A better day but stlll cool and rather windy.

Still feeling unwell but managed to do some watering in the polytunnel and pull some weeds out of the raised bed.

Friday June 19th
Still cool and windy with a few light showers

Back to clearing the perennial weeds from the new garden. Cut back the holly hedge behind the house to try and prevent the squirrels jumping from it onto the bird feeders.

Saturday June 20th
Similar weather.

Looked out of the window first thing to see a squirrel on the long peanut feeder so obviously cutting back the hedge didn't work. The poles holding up the feeders are well greased so how it got there is a mystery. Maybe it will try again when one of us is watching.

Trying to keep the squirrels off the bird feeders has been a continuous battle for many years. I wouldn't mind them stealing a few peanuts but the trouble is they try to bite through the wire mesh and if they succeed the nuts fall out onto the ground which is a waste and attracts rats and mice too. Not only that while they are there the birds won't come near. Tree rats, that's what I call them. To think that some people think they are cute!

More weeding. The Sweet William is in full flower now. Once we get some sun I will take some photos!!

Sunday June 21st
Similar weather

Compost bin E is empty and D more than half empty after I used a lot of the compost to earth up the potatoes. Also we need room to shred the mountain of twigs and cuttings collecting nearby. So time to start turning D into E, C into D, B into C and A into B. Spent most of the afternoon doing this. For once I was pleased the weather was cold for the time of year.

We seem to have developed a leak in the bathroom which is seeping though the wall to the outside. Trouble is all the pipework is buried in the concrete floor so it is not going to be easy to fix. Looks like I may have to break off gardening to investigate and fix it. Why can't these things happen at a quieter time of year?

Monday June 22nd
Similar weather to start but brightened up in the afternoon.

Continued to clear the new garden and transplanted the wallflower and Sweet William seedlings into 12 cell trays. These will be flowering next year just like the wallflowers this year have just finished and the Sweet William are just at their best!!

Planted out basil and parsley in the herb garden.

Went for a walk in the warm evening sunshine.

Tuesday June 23rd
Very misty at 3am but had cleared by breakfast-time. Slowly warmed up to a very humid 25°C by early afternoon and started to drizzle, soon turning into pouring rain. Only lasted about an hour before it cleared up again.

Emptied some of the Arran Pilot pots for more new potatoes. We are getting around 400g from each tuber which is pretty good for first early new potatoes. Earthing up the pots with soil rather than compost gives a better yield which I found surprising. The vegetables are really starting to come now with fresh courgettes, onion and broad beans as well as potatoes for our dinner followed by the usual large dish of strawberries. It won't be long before we have cherries as well.

Wednesday June 24th
A warm sunny day so worked in the shade clearing and cutting the hedge running down the south side of the garden.

Thursday June 25th
Still warm but mainly overcast.

Did some shredding till it started to drizzle. Started to transplant the chrysanthemum cuttings into larger pots

Friday June 26th
Warm and humid. Started to rain around lunchtime. Frequent heavy showers afternoon and into the evening.

Pat picked the first raspberries today so now we are having those with yogurt for lunch and strawberries with ice cream for dinner.

Continued to transplant the chrysanthemums, nipping out secondary and tertiary buds where necessary. Moved the grape vines into 10L pots and started to train two side-shoots sideways from each main stem,

Saturday June 27th
Very warm and humid with thundery showers, some quite heavy.

Took the opportunity to give all the plants in the polytunnel a good water, knowing the butts would soon be full again.

Sunday June 28th
Even warmer, maximum around 27°C in the afternoon. Rained overnight but stayed dry during the day despite distant thunder and black clouds on the horizon.

The Aquadulce broad beans are just about finished and the Extra Precoce are ready to start picking so I dug up the former and carefully removed any weeds so I could plant out the leeks without disturbing the soil; it needs to be firm. Used a dibber made from an old sharpened spade handle to make 20cm holes about 15cm apart. The leek seedlings have been growing in 20 cell trays of compost up till now and have good roots on them.  Shake the compost off the roots, tease them out and then drop the young plant into the hole, pouring water in to wash some soil over the roots. Eventually they will grow to fill the hole with a firm blanched stem to be harvested throughout the winter.

Spent most of rest of the day hoeing weeding, dead-heading and generally tidying up. The usual tasks for this and most days from now on for the next few months. Unless I do something else I will just report the weather from now on.

Monday June 29th
A very warm day, for the UK anyway. it was already 22°C at 9:00 and reached 27° by mid afternoon, 34° in the polytunnel. The high humidity and heat set off a couple of showers around lunchtime.

Tuesday June 30th
Started warm and humid with frequent short but heavy showers. Cleared in the evening. Maximum temperature 26°C.