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Geoff Hodge Web Editor Peterborough

I've been a horticultural journalist for 20 years, a gardener for longer than I want to think about and a veg grower for 25 years.

  • Date Joined: 21 Nov 2006

Where's the summer gone?

Posted by Geoff Hodge on 21 Jul 2008 at 09:33 AM

I haven't blogged for a few weeks - simply because I haven't been around much the last few weekends to get any actual gardening done. After spending the weekend at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show we've spent the following weekends visiting family, goings to christenings and having a weekend away in Pembrokeshire - revisiting old haunts that I used to go to as a child.

This weekend has been the first one spent at home for ages - and yes there has been some inevitable catching up to do in the garden. Naturally, I've been doing things in the evening after getting back from the office, but it has only been 'maintenance work'. And to be fair, that's what tends to happen at this time of year: watering plants in containers, feeding plants in containers, tying in plants to supports (we've had some really windy days, which have caused even the runner beans to comeaway from their supports), sideshooting tomatoes - and, the one thing that makes all the hard work worthwhile - harvesting.

We've finished off eating the last of the broad beans, had our first crops of French and (a few) runner beans, potatoes (from the allotment and those growing in the compost bags), salads, courgettes, garlic (I spent Sunday afternoon stringing them up), onions and cucumbers.

But I'm not happy. The low light levels and cool temperatures, especially at night, has caused havoc with the tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. They're all growing well and looking healthy, but they're hardly producing any flowers and hence very little fruit. The beefsteak tomatoes have their first truss at about 1 metre high and there's not that many above that either. The peppers have just started to set their first fruit and the aubergines look like they're going to spend the summer as ornamentals! So, this weekend they all got a massive dose of potash - or sunshine in a bag, as I call it - so hopefully that'll help.

On the plus side, there hasn't been any blight so far this year - hurrah! I have had two automatic warnings from the blight warning service, but they haven't turned into actual attacks. Rather than getting out the Dithane and spraying immediately I'd rather wait to see if there are any signs of attack - a risky policy I know.

Hopefully the weather will pick up during the latter part of the month and I'll get some bumper harvests of tomatoes and peppers (I'm not hoping too much for the aubergines!). Although the way things are going, blight and a plague of locusts will attack while I'm away at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park this week.

If there's one thing you've got to be if you're a gardener it's patient, hopeful and remain positive. OK, so that's three things, which just goes to prove that gardening can sometimes be a real pain in the neck! 


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