There’s no stopping us now: British summer, with its tempered light and heat, is bringing everything – especially seed sown veg plants and vitamin D-starved humans – out of their shells. Day by day the tomatoes and peppers are looking taller, stouter and tanning to a healthier deeper green hue. I had Lycopersicon nervosa (Tomato Worry – a common gardeners’ complaint) for a couple of weeks as greenfly caused significant leaf curl on them, especially the precious Kondine Reds. But Holly and I inspected on Thursday to find them virtually cleaned up : a combination of volunteer lacewing larvae and spiders; introduced ladybirds; soapy comfrey spray; and no shortage of emotional support from myself and Nicole, their Irrigator-In-Chief.
Much has been written and researched about the beneficial effects of singing and talking to plants, but recently I’ve taken to yelling at them. Encouragement, that is, as if they were my football team or a Tour cyclist ascending the Alpe. Ultimately, I believe it’s about giving attention and love, however you choose to do it.
The climbing french beans are now taller than me. Sure, when you’re as vertically challenged as I am, you get used to having to look up to things, only not things that just a few weeks ago got lost in the creases of my palm. It’s truly staggering, and makes you think perhaps Jack and the Beanstalk was an historical account after all.
The Entrance Field is taking shape. I’m really pleased with its appearance: it’s starting to actually look like what you might get if you cross-pollinated the attention-to-detail of the gardener with the broad strokes of the commercial grower. A bit more colour required, but we’ve only got ourselves to blame for that, as we insist on ripping the flowers off the strawberries as soon as they emerge.
As yet, the pioneer strawberry and beetroot show no signs of interest from pests known or unknown. We’re now planting leeks. Wireworm, which can be a problem for leeks (and indeed our potatoes) is resident in the field, as it often is in established grassland. But we thought we’d risk it on the basis that I laid out potato and carrot traps last year and didn’t catch a single wireworm. True, anything that can turn itself into a click beetle is possibly clever enough to spot a trap when it sees one. But there’s no way they’ll have anticipated such vociferous support for the newly promoted green and white team when they’re on The Field. Altogether now: COME ON YOU LEE-EEKS!