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A Drought?

We really are having a strange growing Season this year. At the time of writing this, at the end of June, we could almost be said to be in the middle of a Drought, as it seems like weeks since we had any proper rain. There is one big upside to this and that is normally, with more moisture about, it is so humid that we get the start of Potatao Blight at the end of June. However, it has been so dry, and with no rain forecast for the next few days at the beginning of July, there is no signs of it anywhere! On the other hand the Potato tops havenít grown very big due to the lack of moisture, so what the Potatoes will be like underneath I donít know?

The prolonged dry weather caused some of my Brassicas (and Turnips which are related) to go to seed and they had to be replanted yet again, although a few survived. I had sown some more Beetroot, Kohl Rabi, Turnip, Lettuce and Radish Mooli, earlier in the month, in a Cold Frame. which came up well after just a few days, but I did put some shading on the Frame. A dry spell is not a good time to plant, but when the young plants, which were in Plug Trays, came out of the Frame, they were drying out so fast every day, that I was between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. I just couldnít keep them watered so the seedlings were baking in the trays and shrivelling up. Consequently, I put them in the ground thinking they couldnít be any worse off! They were planted out, as a second crop, in the small patches that had been cleared of Broad Beans, Garlic and the first crop Turnips.
When I did it the soil was baked hard with a layer of dust on the surface where I had been hoeing. It took a lot of water poured into the planting holes to give them a chance before I let them get on with it. I donít like watering plants after they have gone in the ground, only when planting, but in really prolonged dry spells I do sometimes water a little after planting as it can prevent many plants, especially things like Beetroot, Tunips and Onions, from going to seed early.

Elsewhere my Garlic leaves started drying out and going brown at the end of June, so I have just dug them up and spread them out to dry naturally, on the ground, in the Sun. The Bulbs are not as big as they might be because surprisingly, Garlic likes water, although, you normally think of it as coming from a hot and dry place. One of my work Colleagues grew some Garlic for the first time and found that her Bulbs hadnít divided into separate little Cloves. This can be due to them not having a cold spell in the Winter. Maybe she planted hers too late into the Spring, or it may be that the Poly Tunnel where she grew them was too warm over Winter for the seed Cloves to get properly chilled.

After being hit by the bad weather, first in the winter and then again by the late cold spell in the Spring, my Globe Artichokes looked really bad, but then they started to recover a bit and put on some growth. By the end of June they were starting to fruit, although the plants were very much smaller than usual which wasnít helped by the dry weather because they do like a drink. Whether the number of Globes cut will be fewer I donít know, but I have started cropping the first few of the season.

TV Gardeners talk of Mulching in the Autumn and through the Winter, but it can also be good to do it in the Summer, however, the soil must be thoroughly wet before covering it with Bark Chips, or Homemade Compost. If you do this it will help lock in the moisture preventing evaporation. Grass cuttings can also be used and they will impart some moisture to the soil as they decompose and dry out.

Elsewhere my Brassicas are doing better since the Chicken Wire was draped over them! It has certainly fooled the Pigeons who canít figure out how to perch on it or walk over it! Of course it wonít stop the Cabbage Whites, but I was more worried about the Pigeons who were pecking the Cabbages back to tiny bits of stalk.
All over the Allotments you can see little netting cages of various sorts going up over plants to protect them. The fine weather has certainly got people interested in their plots.

 

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