Sunday, 22 July 2012

Surveying the Damage...

 So, after the wettest June on record, following a wet winter and two wet summers, it was time to survey the damage.  While my broad beans did well as they were pollinated before the deluge, not everything else has done.  I was worried about my parsnips, which have a  habit of failing when it's too wet.  I was so worried that at one point I covered them with a cloche, which may have done the trick as I have a bed full of parsnips, albeit full of weeds as well.
 As for the tomatoes, well it's fairly disastrous.  Some of them have root rot, the brick in the picture is propping up one affected plant.  The cloches have been on and off the tomatoes in an attempt to keep them warm and dry, and allow pollination.  I do have some fruit, the later flowering ones are covered in blooms and look reasonably healthy, so who knows...
I started these beetroot (front) and carrots (back) under a cloche too a few weeks ago.  They have germinated quite well, so now they're in the fresh air and growing on.  The earlier beetroot sowing had patchy germination due to the rain and cold.  The cloches have been an essential tool this year though I really didn't have enough to cover everything I wanted to.  They will need to be replaced now - after torrential rain, hail and punishing winds they are now suffering badly, with tears and gaps.
This is my sole surviving courgette, the only one that made it through the rain, low temperatures and slug predations.
 The soft fruit is dreadful too.  Here is the first picking of redcurrants, a paltry few pounds of fruit, small and sparse.
Here you can see what the redcurrants should look like (left) compared with what I mostly have (right) - straggly partial bunches of fruit.  You would think birds, wouldn't you, though we don't have a big problem with birds on the plot.  But the gooseberries are the same, and they, like the redcurrants, had masses of blossom at the start.  I suspect that some didn't set, some got eaten by snails and some was simply blasted off by the wind, hail and rain.  The blackcurrants are much better, as are the whitecurrants and red gooseberries so it's very strange.
 The strawberries and rasberries have also struggled, the rasberries being particularly poor and suitable only for cooking.
Here are the blackcurrants and redcurrants bagged up for the freezer.  The redcurrants are destined to make fruit cordial, so they go in the bag as they are, I couldn't face stripping the tiny berries from the stalks!  Raspberries and damaged strawberries get made into cordial straight away.
 The grass has had a really good year, growing  up to 4 feet in height, as you can see.  Weeds everywhere, it will take months to get under control.  This morning I weeded the lettuce bed, hundreds of weeds needed removing.
It's been a great year for slugs and snails, here is a snail at the top of a redcurrant branch.  We used to have a lot of slugs, but the snail population has grown massively in the last few years, we have lots of species, including a few very stripy ones like this one.  They've had a great time eating my vegetables and fruit.
 The apples have also been hard hit, this is Katy which is normally groaning with fruit by this time, I reckon it's around 50% down this year, the Spartan only has one left, the Blenheim has lost a lot of its fruit and only the Worcester Pearmain has a decent quantity left on.  I couldn't find a single plum on the tree when I looked this morning.  Again, I suspect the weather did rather more "thinning" of the fruit than I wanted.
As for the strawberries, many have rotted in the wet, others eaten by slugs so we have a poor crop this year.

The lettuce has done well under a cloche for most of the time, the potatoes look good, the marrows and pumpkins are belatedly growing on now, the peas are behind but flowering well and the brassicas, though few in number, are looking healthy, so it's not all bad.  But I can honestly say that this has been the worst weather and most difficult year for growing fruit and veg I've ever known.  If you're a commercial grower though, it must be just disastrous.

While we have been drowning, on the other side of the pond there has been an extremely dry summer!  What a strange, strange year!

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