Is it the end of the month again already? July has whizzed past in a sunshiney haze, which has been delightful to laze around in, distressing for farmers, and tiring for those of us who didn't manage to install water butts before the rain stopped.
Our local farmer (who these cows in our fields belong to) has been round and cut some of the grass, in the hope that it will stimulate it to grow again. We've offered to let the cows into our final field, and in return he's offered to remove our chimney (which we are delighted about). The cows seem pretty pleased too at having an entire new field to explore.
We have had to take some precautionary measures though. This is the field closest to the house, and the one I originally planned to grow my veg in, back in March when we seemed to have bought a swamp and this was the highest and driest place. You can see the start of the beds in this post from May.
Cows aren't well known for eating courgettes, but I reckon they'd have a go given half the chance, so the farmer has had to set up an electric fence around the edge of the field (probably all the while cursing the fool who planted courgettes in the far corner of a hay meadow).
It does make watering a bit of a palaver (don't worry, there's a handle to disconnect the fence, I don't have to limbo under it each time thank goodness). But these plants are pretty well established now so I wasn't watering them every day anyway, and this weekend we've finally had a good downpour so they should be ok. The yellow courgettes are coming along nicely.
Ignore the weeds. I don't lean towards the neat and tidy garden look. The hay mulch kept the weeds down for long enough for the plants to get established and that's the most important thing in my book. It won't be long until we can start harvesting these now, which I'm very excited about. I'm also quite excited to see what other squashes turn up - I planted round green courgettes, patty pans, pumpkins and butternut squash, but sadly the labels washed off so I don't know which plant is which until the fruits appear.
The raspberries are up here too, fenced off from the cows (well known raspberry thieves). We had a few handfuls from them but they appear to have come to an end now sadly. I love raspberries, and will be moving these closer to the house and increasing production next year.
In the other part of the garden, the greenhouse is doing well, and I can't believe the change since my June post.
We've been eating home grown lettuce all month (and some of it has gone to seed now as we haven't got to it quickly enough). I can't quite believe the amount of purple basil - I really must get that into the freezer soon as it's starting to flower. The tomatoes have finally started setting fruit.
I feel like there's a mysterious art form to tomatoes that I haven't quite grasped yet. These are the plants a friend gave us - my own are still pretty small, although one of them now has a few flowers on.
The real stars of the greenhouse are the cucumbers.
I've never grown them before, and didn't expect them to germinate, so planted quite a few, and ended up with nine large plants in the greenhouse. It's been quite a battle to keep them watered, and as you can see in this picture, I haven't always managed it. They've had lots of flowers on though, and have started fruiting, which is very exciting.
At least it was exciting, until I picked my first one today and my goodness it's bitter! It was ok near the tip, but towards the end it became inedible. I've been reading up, and apparently this can be due to 'stress' - often by not having enough water. It seems my daily trekking up and down with the watering cans wasn't quite enough... Oh well. I've stepped up my watering regime (no idea if it will make a difference at this stage) and we'll hope for the best.
It has been pretty good to eat our own salads though.
Outside, some cheery visitors helped me dig more beds and we now have two types of beans, kale and rocket in the ground.
This picture is from about two weeks ago when the beans just started forming - they now look like proper French beans so I hope we'll be harvesting them soon too.
I've turned the compost again, and got another bucket of lovely compost out of it, which has gone into the veg beds.
It's been so dry though that a lot of the grass had just turned to hay in the heap, and it's been quite a chore to keep up with the watering. We don't have an outside tap near the veg, and it's barely rained since I installed my water butts, so I've been back and forth to the tap in the utility room, two watering cans at a time.
This week I finally thought about it properly and started saving my shower water.
It's no more effort (our bathroom is on the ground floor), and saves perfectly drinkable treated water from going to the plants while grey water washes out into the field (we're not on mains drainage here and the bath water doesn't go into the septic tank). I'm extremely glad there has been some rain this weekend - finally I can go back to just watering the plants in the greenhouse for a few days, and hopefully by then everything else will be a little stronger and able to fend for itself.
So there we are - a whizz round our garden in July. I wonder what August will bring? (Apart from too many courgettes, that is...)
Sit down and make yourself comfortable. I'm Jenni, and I write here about our new forray into country living, which includes growing food, knitting, baking, wandering around the fields, and seeing which local cafe serves the best cake.