The oppressive, suffocating heat of last week has been replaced by altogether more changeable, and unpredictable conditions. I’m not sorry that the 30°+ heat has gone, because it was horrible for working, and impossible for sleeping in; by Thursday when the weather broke I was part gardener part zombie through lack of sleep. Boy when it did break it did so in style! Down this neck of the woods we have had thunder and lightning and dramatic downpours since it all kicked off on Thursday. Having said that, the intensity of these events has been quite localised. At Moyns Park, up to the point when I left this afternoon, I have measured 69mm of rain since Thursday morning, whereas at home, which is about 4 miles away as the crow flies my rain gauge has registered a whopping 93mm in the same period! And talking to customers at Wyken yesterday morning it seems that up around that area there had been virtually no precipitation to speak of, though I think that there has been some today. 93mm is getting on for 4 inches! Crazy man.
I was in the doghouse on Thursday, because before I left for work in the morning I opened the kitchen windows to let some air in. Little was I to know that within an hour or so of my leaving there would be a cloudburst which the gutter was not able to cope with, resulting in a cascade of water falling onto the kitchen window sill, and subsequently proceeded to cover the floor! When Jennifer came down she was confronted with water water everywhere. If we are playing the blame game in my opinion it lies fairly in her court; if she got up earlier there wouldn’t have been a problem.
I had been moving the sprinklers about all week prior to the arrival of the monsoon, because the beans in particular were really suffering from a lack of water. Whether this change of weather will have saved them remains to be seen, I do hope so, because the bean season is short enough already without it being truncated. The summer squash is currently in full production; courgettes, marrows, patty pan and spaghetti squash are all producing very well. After the rain the ‘Charlotte’ potatoes will be easier to dig; last week I could have done with a pneumatic drill when lifting them. In addition to them there will be ‘Rudolph’ red potatoes – they are good for mashing, roasting and baking. There are lots of tomatoes at the moment, so now is the time to think about preserving some – chutney, pasta sauce, ketchup, drying. There will be a greater number of bulls horn sweet peppers this week, though they are still limited. There will be round red lettuces and loose leaf ones. Beetroot, onions, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, red cabbage and dirty carrots make up most of the rest of what’s available. Sadly there are no leafy greens this week.
I will be picking ‘Discovery’ apples for dessert use, and this week I will start picking all of the early varieties for juicing. I am preparing myself for a bout of ‘ladder leg’ resulting from constantly ascending and descending the rungs in the weeks ahead. I am not adding ‘Victoria’ plums to the shop at this time, because I forgot to see what state they are in today; I will do so tomorrow and add them if they pass muster.
During the worst of the heat last week, we were inundated with flies at home, and talking to neighbours and other local residents it seems that we are not the only ones. Since it cooled down the problem has reduced, but there are still plenty around and we are all suffering from tennis elbow from prolonged swatting; I have found that the backhand is my most successful shot. Nelly joins in, though is nowhere near as proficient at catching them as our black and white cat Wilfred, who takes them in flight quite regularly. Stanley, the grey cat, is not in the least bit interested in pursuing them, but he’s mighty impressed by the antics of his brother.
Since most of the fields have been harvested it has been a good time for spotting Hares; there is a field that I pass every day on the way to and from work, and one morning last week I counted 8 of them just as I was driving by. There generally appears to be a lot of them around at the moment, which is good to see, though I am happy that they remain on the other side of the fence to the market garden.
Finally, I would like to thank all of my long-term loyal customers who have stuck with me through thick and thin, I sincerely appreciate your unstinting support. During the darkest days of the lockdown I was inundated with orders from households desperately in need of home deliveries, almost doubling my weekly box count and dramatically increasing my stress levels as I tried to keep everyone supplied when I was really not geared up for that level of business. Inevitably, I suppose, the majority of those needy people have now disappeared without trace now that shopping has largely returned to normal. I am not referring to those of you who grow your own veg in the summer, I realise that this is a time of plenty in your own gardens and that you don’t need much from me, so it’s not you that I am talking about. One lives and learns, and should panic buying return as we head into the autumn/winter, it will be you, my wonderful regulars, that will be my top priority.
Have a good week, and make the most of the cooler night time temperatures to catch up on your sleep.