Lucina has started a vegetable garden in England and tells us step by step how things are going. At the end of the article you will find the links to recover the previous episodes.
July was a rather special month in the garden, from many points of view. First of all, as mentioned in the previous episode, I was on vacation for two weeks "abandoning" him to himself (well, not really. The daughter of my garden partner Janet kept an eye on him at the end). But the weather was once again definitely out of the ordinary, but this time in the positive.
While June had been bad, cold and rainy, July reached record high temperatures: 35-36 degrees in my area. I don't remember such heat since I live here. There was an almost Mediterranean climate. Basically we went from one extreme to the other: excessive cold in June and excessive heat in July. Is it any wonder that some vegetables have grown out of all proportion and that others have gone crazy and are whipped to seed?
But let's proceed in order: the first week of July, when I was still here and the weather suddenly improved, I finally harvested, in addition to spinach and chard, also other vegetables, namely broad beans, courgettes and the first beets.
During that week my seventeen-year-old nephew Pietro came as a guest, in theory to learn English, in practice to help me in the garden. He has never seen a drop of rain during his entire stay. Think a little! And in fact, as a result of this unexpected good weather, he had to come with me to water the garden quite a few times. As a "pay" he got rid of the ripe raspberries that had grown in the meantime. Besides, I also had to reward him in some way! Better to do it with horticultural products than in money ... :-)
Dolomite gardens = English gardens
For my holidays I was on the adores Dolomites. The interesting thing for me this year was observe the gardens of that area (obviously never "spied" before) and note that they are very similar, in terms of types of vegetables grown and ripening times to the English ones. What a nice surprise!
So I deduce that the Dolomites are equivalent to England as regards the climate and the type of vegetables that are grown. Compared to the rest of Italy, on the other hand, no comparisons can be made with England: we are a couple of months behind here.
I know this because in the case of tomatoes, for example, almost nothing is harvested here before August. I've signed up lately on the Facebook group of Orto da coltare. Well every day with great envy I see photos of people blogging incredible crops of tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. Science fiction here! But maybe in England we can grow vegetables that don't grow well in Italy due to excessive heat. Who knows! So never despair!
Holidays and crazy gardens
July proved to be the month in which vegetables, thanks also to the favorable weather, grew the most ever. Too much, in fact!
I discovered it when I returned from vacation and I found it a semi Amazonian jungle instead of the tidy little garden I had left. I did not believe my eyes! My friend's daughter did a great job during our absence but she couldn't slow down the growth of the vegetables which, appreciating the nice warmth, grew out of all proportion.
I found giant-leaved spinach and all the 3-foot-tall, seed-mounted beets. I had to uproot them all and replant them. Let's not talk about pumpkin and zucchini.
The only pumpkin plant I have (Marina di Chioggia, grown from a seed) became a monster during my absence: it was literally spreading throughout the garden. I had to quickly top it before it scrambled over all the other vegetables and smothered them. Zucchini grow at a dizzying speed to say the least. Every day that you go to the garden there are always some to collect. Incredible!
While I was away it became clear that some of the new potatoes were ready to be removed from the ground (the plants were all yellowed. A sure sign that the tubers are ready for harvesting). I gave Janet's daughter permission to do this and you can see the result from the photo she sent me.
A real satisfaction, even if I was not present at their "birth". Plus, apparently, they were really delicious! Considering how much the vegetables have grown in just two weeks I thought that maybe the thing to do in the future is either not to go on vacation in July, which seems a bit extreme to me, or to organize with the garden companion to go on vacation at different times or go there for just one week. ;-)
Successes and failures
To update you on my vegetables and their well-being or discomfort, let's start with tomato plants, particularly dear to me. As you can imagine, the heat of July was very much appreciated by them. They have finally begun to grow properly. Hurray!
Now a lot of green cherry tomatoes and a lot of flowers have appeared, so the situation is promising. A few shy tomatoes have already matured and were immediately eaten by myself. I must say it was not bad taste. We hope that the weather does not turn upside down again and that we will be able to have a decent harvest.
Eggplants, on the other hand, stubbornly refuse to grow, despite the great heat that has been there (which has even made airports and railway lines go haywire in the south. Did you hear? Incredible but true!) Will it also be a question of terrain? Bah! By now I have resigned myself to not even seeing the shadow of it ... ;-)
Some you win, some you lose, as they say here. Obviously, next year I will no longer dream of planting them.
Other vegetables that are not growing very well are i cauliflower. With the exception of a purple cauliflower that has peeped out (see photo), all the others have only produced leaves so far, which are also eaten by various beasts.
THE eater peas were a disaster. No seedlings have taken root. And normal peas only produced a few pods. I wonder why.
Also the garlic it was disappointing: we pulled it out of the ground but unfortunately it doesn't look good. It is made up of many small wedges but has not made normal heads. They are all a bit deformed. I wonder why!
The beans, on the other hand, have been a hit and the green bean plants are beautifully lush. We have already collected some at the end of the month but we will have to wait until August to collect the bulk. Strawberries also bode well. I bought a variety that theoretically produces it all summer. They started blooming later than normal ones but now they are filling up with flowers and fruit.
In the last days of July, we dug up the remaining potatoes, as well as beets and red onions. Beets and potatoes ended up in Janet's garage as long as we need them. Red onions, following the example of other people, are drying outdoors (or rather they are taking a bath since it has rained a lot in the last few days).
But now we have black holes in the garden, i.e. empty spaces that we will have to fill with new plants, obviously already thinking about autumn / winter vegetables. We will see what to do.
Every year inHummersknott allotment where my garden is, on the third Saturday of July there is one competition. Prizes for different categories are awarded by experts. One of these is that of the young gardeners, that is, those people who have been cultivating the garden for less than two years (like me). Well, incredible but true, I won the third prize! What a great satisfaction!
The judges' comment was that I made good use of the available space and grew a nice variety of vegetables as well as flowers. Well, I confess I went into jujube soup when I found out. Considering that, as you well know, I have never grown a vegetable in my life before this year, I can be proud of the results. And if I did it, it means that other inexperienced people like me can do it.
Lack of experience shouldn't prevent anyone from trying. Especially when you can draw on a whole series of very useful tips on this beautiful online magazine !! Indeed cultivating a vegetable garden is an activity that I recommend to anyone who has some free time and a piece of land at their disposal. There is nothing more satisfying than cooking organic vegetables that have been lovingly grown by themselves!