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Friday, 26 July 2013

Veg patch update - July

I've been taking photos for weeks meaning to do an update, then after a few days it's all gone and changed again! In the last few weeks everything has grown really fast due to so much sun and warm to hot weather. Of course that has meant copious watering, even at times getting the hose pipe in there. Once I gave up and put the sprinkler on to try to give my maincrop potatoes and red onions a good watering, as a watering can is quite futile for things like this (unless you do it all day long). But using mains water is costly, so whilst we long for sunny days we also need rain!

So now I am harvesting all sorts of lovely summer veg but I'll show some of the photos from several weeks back anyway.

6th July and I only show this photo because I actually captured a Swallow swooping over
the veg patch - sometimes they land in it and take soil or just perch on the tomato posts.
But have I been able to capture this? No, of course not!!

13th July and looking nice and moist after the sprinkler had been on!
The shallots have been lifted now and left to dry in the barn.
My wildflower meadow is in the background.

My rusty garlic has been lifted and left to dry in the barn; we are already eating it.
The spring onions (left) are huge now and the leeks (right) are desperate
to be planted out, but have to wait until the onions come out,
as they need that space!

That nice feeling after you've dug up a load of spuds!

Oh no, not more courgettes.... a week later and it's glut time again!

16th July when the harvest was still quite meagre.
First tomato, 2nd cucumber and something like courgettes nos. 5 and 6.
Since then there's been nothing meagre about the harvests
and my fridges are bursting with cucumbers and courgettes which we can't eat fast enough!

I am still picking tons of raspberries, although I have had to put the seep hoses
on regularly on my two raspberry patches as they are very thirsty plants.
We even got a few cherries that the birds left for us.

This is a Physalis (Cape Gooseberry) flower - first time I'm growing them.
They are already forming their 'lanterns'!

18th July and planting out my French beans -
the soil was getting seriously dry.
I dug down about 6 inches into pure dust.

And then it rained! Hoorah, hours and hours of thunderstorms last Sunday; the temperature dropped a whole 10C which was a blessed relief and it rained and rained, totalling 28mm which is a little over an inch. Most of the water butts were full and the garden and I sighed in relief. Of course it was short lived because the temps are back up to about 29C again and the plants have sucked that moisture up like you wouldn't believe, and I have just started watering the veggies again, but having 3 nights off from the watering was like the best present ever.

After the rain and my bought squash plant 'Courge Musquée de Provence' is going crazy
in all directions. Usually I train smaller squash up through the fence wire a bit but
I have never grown this variety before and have discovered that the fruit grow to 6-9kg!

Another view of this plot which has tomatoes, courgettes and two kinds of squash.
The straw mulch is more for keeping the tomatoes off the soil than keeping moisture in.
We've eaten 4 tomatoes so far, medium sized ones called 'Fournaise' which are
my favourite all rounders. I've tried all sorts and been disappointed with many.

The 3 cucumbers are producing too well now but the lettuce
in the background is starting to bolt.

I also have 3 cherry tomato plants in pots at the front of the house which are
doing really well and the first fruits are just changing colour.

We're also eating blueberries from my one plant which is in a pot.

Finally, did you think I could post anything without a bug?! I just noticed this tiny Cinnabar Moth caterpillar last night, on a groundsel 'weed', near my currant bushes in the veg patch. Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)* really is an annoying weed as it has fluffy seed heads that disperse seeds like dandelions, but the Cinnabar Moth larvae eat this, although their primary food plant is Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris/Senecio jacobaea). So I always leave a few of these weeds here and there and check them for the caterpillars before I weed any out. The moth is a daytime flying one and very beautiful; I've only seen a few this year but I finally managed to capture one at long last, sitting on a strawberry plant!

Cinnabar Moth caterpillar on Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae) on a strawberry leaf

* Note about Groundsel from Wikipedia, and I have read this before elsewhere. I've not had a problem myself, but I wouldn't purposefully leave it growing right next to crops because of it:

"Groundsel acts as a host for the fungus that causes black root rot in peas, alfalfa, soybeans, tomatoes, red clover, peanuts, cucurbits, cotton, citrus, chickpeas and several ornamental flowering plants...."


  1. I don't think I have ever seen a Cinnabar moth before.
    Are you sure you are not just making all these creatures up in Photoshop?

    1. They are similar to the 5 or 6 Spot Burnets, only with a stripe in place of most of the spots. I would love to be so clever with Photoshop, but so far my skills run to pressing the auto contrast button ;-)

  2. Looking good.........
    Will have to have a chat about leaky hoses as I could do with a couple and a timer to go with it......... A Nonny Mouse

    1. Thanks Nonny. I have a timer but have never used it! Seep hoses are worth it as they use less water but it drips where you want the water to go - and most importantly you can go off and do other things, in your case like bronzing your amazing torso ;-)

  3. The most rewarding time of gardening! Twofold in your case as it also provides wonderful photo ops. I am salivating in thinking about both :-)

    I enjoy your harvest vicariously. Love the moth in both stages, by the way. Excellent!

    1. Hi Marianne, hope you are having a great time. I checked out some of your Instagram pics a few days ago and looks like you are finding loads of lovely bugs! Hurry up with your blog post! Thanks for finding time to look and comment and I will think of you as I am eating my home grown salad :-)

    2. I just commented on your previous post letting you know why I haven't posted yet. Yes...I'm having a fabulous time despite their record rains! It storms every day but I'm finding time to shoot between the raindrops. the case of's impossible to get decent closeups because of the winds. Fungi are much easier to manage :-) BUT..I'm coming back up here next month so I'll have another chance.

    3. Thanks for telling me - I have checked out your latest Instagram pics and can see you are finding loads of interesting things! And you took the cats camping with you!!! Shame about the storms but you have interesting clouds and I bet it makes a change from heat and constant sunshine. And you have your next trip there to look forward to as well! Sounds great :-)

      Well done for organising all your images - I am trying my best to do this too and I'm spending a lot of time IDing. It's suddenly Skipper city here and to think I never even noticed them before last year! Will certainly be keeping everyone posted about the Swallowtails - thanks for commenting on that post too. I think I have consolidated the reply to both comments into one to make it easier. :-)

      I'm up at a ridiculously early hour due to thunderstorms during the night waking me - but lots more rain for the garden, so I'm happy! I have far less of a problem with hot weather when someone else is doing the watering for me ;-)

  4. I actually didn't mind the storms as they bring out the fungi which is my main goal when I go to Flagstaff. I think August might be even better so I'm already eager to go.

    I'm home and exporting my images to my main database at the moment. All keywording done on the road will be transferred. I love Lightroom :-)

    Looking forward to seeing a Skipper post along with Swallowtail news!

    1. Hi Marianne - glad to hear all your images are sorted! Good news about the rain and the fungi then. That's one thing I know very little about. Do you find edible ones?
      If you have time to look at my facebook page (it's public so you can just look) you will see a skipper photo near the top but the latest news/photo there is my first Swallowtail eclosion this morning! Missed the eclosion (it must have done it as soon as it was daylight) but huge excitement watching it for several hours before releasing outside. I won't post on my blog about it until all 3 have eclosed and cross fingers I may still get to witness the actual act! You need to click on the photos as it displays them on the page annoyingly square and cuts off half the image.