That’s the often repeated mantra that echoes throughout my garden at the moment! The visiting blackbirds seem very tame; I can get ridiculously close to them. One clever couple have raised triplets and bring them to the redcurrant bush to feast on. I don’t mind; there are plenty. But when they move onto my blueberries it’s another story. It’s as if they know they can be difficult to grow. They won’t keep their bird lips off! The thing about a wildlife garden is that it attracts wildlife. My brassica seedlings have been replaced three times because some critter keeps eating them. So rude! The critter tried to move into the hen pen but it was informed it had been eyeballed, and its’ plan for hen pen domination has been thwarted.
Talking of the girls– all but one of my lovely rescue hens that I got last year have died, so I have 4 newbies. It’s a bit like the Montagues and Capulets down there; each group sticking to their own end and occasionally clashing over food in the middle. Their noisy protestations make them sound like they need oiling!
The garden has been quietly growing (when critters and birds allow), although it seems a bit behind everyone else’s. Even so, the dinner table has been graced with beans, peas, potatoes, leeks, cucumbers, salads, radishes, cauliflower, cabbages, spinach, spring onions, and carrots. And for desert; strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and rhubarb. Onions, shallots and garlic are curing in the wood store – yes, the wood store – where else would one cure one’s alliums? The tomatoey madness is yet to come but the plants are healthy with flowery promise and there’s much laughter to be heard as they’re given a good tickle.
It took me a long time to figure out just how busy I should be in the garden in July, because it seems, in some respects, as if the growing season is starting to slow down. The long lazy days of summer make you feel long and lazy! July is sometimes known as our second spring, due to the fact that there are many seeds that can be sown now, many transplants to plant in situ, and it actually is a very busy month. Lots to do to prepare for the late autumn and spring harvests. The weather here is currently hair frizzing – 90 degrees in the greenhouse by 9:00am. And yet in the cooler evenings you can almost smell the forthcoming transition of seasons in the air.
You can directly sow Autumn King carrots, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Purple Kale, and all manner of salad leaves; such as quick heading lettuces, winter purslane, endive, oriental leaves, mibuna and chicory. Why not multi sow beetroots such as Boltardy, turnips such as Snowball and start yet more radishes, peas, spring onions, French beans, spring cabbages, kohl rabi, and fennel? Leek transplants need to be in by the end of the month, together with Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages, autumn cauliflowers and sprouting broccoli seedlings.
There really isn’t such a thing as a lazy summer when it comes to growing your own. As well as all the above; there’s weeding, feeding, watering, harvesting, pruning, and training to keep on top of. There are wars to fight – soil borne diseases, airborne diseases, pests and critters. Cats sitting on your seedlings or using your raised beds as giant litter trays; birds to scare as you wrestle them for your blackcurrants; slugs and snails partying on your greens; black fly, green fly and variations on a theme. There’s food to harvest, cure, store and preserve and July is the month to do it all in!
Cherry and plum trees are pruned now – not in the winter. Apple and pears need to be thinned out to allow each fruit to grow to a reasonable size. Blackcurrants can be lightly pruned, and following your harvest of summer raspberries, cut the canes that had borne fruit down to the ground.
August will hopefully allow for some relaxation, be it a staycation or a vacation. See you then with cuppa in hand.