It might be a little premature to be making comparisons with the long hot summer of 1976, but it’s got that sort of feel about it. Whether we will have standpipes in the streets, or are advised to share our bathwater with a friend,before watering the garden with what remains in the tub, or have clouds of ladybirds descending on us, remains to be seen, but the current dry spell is certainly unusual, and looks set to continue. Some areas have already announced hosepipe bans, and I expect others to follow suit soon, but I hope that we avoid scenes like those shown in the photo above; a bevy of beauties waiting to fill their buckets.
There were articles in the press yesterday about shortages of lettuce, broccoli and cauliflowers, because of the lack of rain. And at Wyken I was talking to a lady from Yorkshire who grows potatoes under contract for McCain (the frozen chip people), and she told me that the crop was going to be a disaster. Expect higher prices in the shops in the weeks ahead, but I wonder how much of the increase will find its way back to the growers.
I can’t compare myself on my 2 acres to those large commercial farmers, but I am experiencing some difficulty in the garden. lettuces are bolting in the heat, so the batch that should have lasted for at least another week is no good, and the lot that should have succeeded it is not yet ready, so there will only be some small ‘Little Gem’ lettuces this week. The Swiss Chard is also bolting, but I am hoping that I will be able to harvest enough leaves for this week before I pull it up. I will be picking the second crop of broad beans this week, but the yield will be adversely affected by the dry conditions. Cucumbers and courgettes are beginning to produce more fruit, and I will be cutting a few aubergines from the greenhouse this week, but they will be very limited, so you will need to be quick off the mark if you want one. Some tomatoes are ripening, but still not enough for me to offer them for general sale. This week there will be some small pointed cabbages, limited Cavalonero kale, beetroot, carrots, kohl rabi, onions, mushrooms and new potatoes. I am not offering any fruit because the oranges, lemons and kiwi fruit are now all being shipped by air from far flung areas of the world, which I don’t approve of.
I continue to waste far too much time in the evenings watching the football World Cup, but it has me well and truly hooked; whether or not my interest will continue once England has been knocked out is open to question, but I think that it will, because I am watching every game that I can, irrespective of where the teams are from. I might have to miss tomorrow’s match though, because it is my daughter Emily’s birthday, so we will be celebrating it in some way. I suppose that we could make an early start, have a break between 7.00 and 9.00, and then recommence the festivities. Do you think I will get away with that? Eckers like!
I am adopting the Spanish way of working during this hot spell, starting early, having a break during the fiercest heat of the day, and then carrying on once it has cooled down a bit. I have my Glastonbury tent pitched under the shade of an apple tree, ideal for a siesta, and I also have a hammock, which I really should make use of. It’s not often that we have weather this good, so we’d best make the most of it.
It will soon be time for me to head back to start the unending round of watering, so I had better stop now. At least the breeze is making the heat bearable, but it’s going to get more humid this week; that’s something to look forward to!