The rains have finally come in buckets, or spades, to use a gardening term. They seem to have ushered in a new order, a restored equilibrium. And the frenetic weeks of street-level plant stalls are closing, so the focus is on the trickle of direct plant orders, and the world within our garden fence.
The Entrance Field, though not fully planted up, is receiving complements as it rises to meet the midsummer sun. “Bull’s Blood” beetroot, maize and companion flowers phacelia and escholtzia are employed in ornamental gardens, so it should be no surprise that they provide an aesthetic foil to the curves of functional potato leaves and meshed cauliflower.
The salad beds on the West Bank are as close as they ever get to full production: of the spring sown, only red orache is flagging, signalling the “relay” with winter leaves is soon to commence. Yes, winter already in the peripheral vision! We await the ravages of the lettuce root aphid, which have been sighted in Kent, from where they can access metropolitan transport connections. But pestilence has not reached the hair-tearing threshold this year: Stefan, the Salad Czar, has overseen a regime of regular inspection and control, whilst on the Field the “beneficials” seem to be literally working their way down the bean bed: the north end is totally “clean”, the south end crawling with blackfly; and ladybirds and their larvae.
The kitchen garden is weeded and being ridged; the apples and vines sheltered from further losses by the storms; even the delicate melons are showing signs of growing away from the pesky glasshouse woodlice. And there are strawberries galore. As my old mentor at Growing Communities, Brian Holden, used to say, “by June, the garden has righted itself”.