June-July, 2022: garden diary

July, 2022, will be remembered as a month of record-breaking high temperatures. But for how long? When will the next record-breaking heatwave arrive? Things are changing so rapidly nowadays that the gardening books on my shelves, giving tried-and-tested planting and watering instructions, are beginning to look a little behind the times.

Anyway … I’ve got a couple of experiments going on.

Although we moved all the furniture we needed into our new house in north Norfolk back in January, we still had to store quite a substantial amount of things from the house we’d sold back in 2016, prior to taking up temporary residence in Lynn’s late father’s Cambridgeshire bungalow. This involved using a large number of plastic storage boxes, which became surplus to requirements.

So I thought “why not use them as mini-raised beds?” That way, I’ll be able to micro-manage the sowing, watering, feeding, etc. of vegetables right through each season. The boxes are pretty sturdy, though time will tell whether they make it unscathed through severe frosts. One option will be to move some of them into the greenhouse, once the tomatoes and cucumbers, etc. have been cleared away.

Obviously drainage would be a problem if I didn’t make holes in the bottom of the boxes. My assumption was that making them with a drill would simply shatter the plastic; so I dug out my soldering iron and used that.

I’m planning to bring sixteen boxes ‘onstream’ eventually. Sowing has progressed swiftly since my last diary and we’re already picking lettuce and rocket from the first box, with celeriac growing in another three. This is an experiment – if it all fails I’ll simply take the boxes to the recycling centre. But who knows? I may be onto something!

I mentioned the other experiment previously. Just after we moved in, I decided to get started with tomatoes. I ordered a couple of packets online … but very soon realised that I could have saved myself the bother by looking in my seed box, where there were already three packets containing unused tomato seeds, most well within the allotted “use by” date. In my usual eagle-eyed fashion, I noticed that I would be the proud owner of five different varieties of tomato seeds. After giving it some thought, I came up with a cunning plan: why not try growing one specimen of all five varieties? As readers of my previous garden diary will know, at least one plant of each variety germinated and now I’m looking after five full size tomato plants, which are beginning to produce fruit.

To my amazement, the plant that seems likely to be most productive is the only one from the Golden Sunrise packet that germinated. Germination of all the others was very good. But I say I’m amazed because the Sunrise seeds were packed seven years ago, to be used by 2017! This kind of thing does happen quite a bit, in fact, but it’s always a nice surprise when something that’s been dormant for such a long time can suddenly spring to life.

This picture below doesn’t really do justice to the plant, which has trusses of tomatoes all the way up to the roof. A winner!

Shown above is the old favourite Gardener’s Delight … and below is Red Cherry.

Here’s Roma VF (a little contorted – I’ll watch with interest – not grown it before). The one shown below is Yellow Pear.

Keeping them all company are a couple of pots of Basil, a must-have herb accompaniment to raw tomatoes.

The new flower border, which I produced by removing part of the lawn shortly after we moved in, is going well, with the exception of the single rose. It’s a shady border, but we persevered with the rose nonetheless. It appears to be on its last legs but in the last 24 hours I’ve dug it up, re-planted it and worked it much more compost. Time will tell.

Here are some rather more successful inhabitants …

Petunia
Gazania
Rudbeckia
Nicotiana (also known as the tobacco plant)
Verbena Quartz, with Feverfew photobombing on the right

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