Tuesday 20 September 2022

Life on The Weald - August 2022

Life on The Weald - August 2022

& in the garden and kitchen

The Weald allotment, Hove - August 2022
July was the driest and hottest on record and August started in the same vein with hose-pipe bans in some parts of the country and an official drought declared by the Environment Agency in several regions (including the South East) on 12 August.

The butternut squashes had not fared well during the drought but the Crown Prince, Tromboncinos and pumpkins seemed to be surviving but smaller and less prolific than previous years, and the Courgettes and cucumbers were doing well.  We also had a reasonable crop of climbing French beans

2 August - pumpkin

2 August - tromboncinos

2 August - French beans, cucumbers and courgettes

I picked some of the Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella) that had gone to seed.  I saved the seeds and used the dried stems for decoration at home.

3 August - Love-in-a-mist 

I also picked some of the Banana chillies (yellow wax)

3 August - Banana chillies

I will leave the Crown Prince squashes until next month but in the meantime, the Patty Pan can be harvested.

3 August - Crown Prince squash

3 August - Patty pan squash

At home, some of the tomatoes were showing signs that they might ripen soon - its a bit like watching paint dry! Or what's that saying about watched kettles?

4 August - tomatoes (Marmande)

4 August - tomatoes (Super Mama)

We had family visiting for a few days in August and then there was Pride weekend so the allotment got a bit neglected. I did manage to lift some of the 2nd Early Nicola potatoes and was very pleased that they were pest free and showed no signs of blight or scab. I am hoping that the Charlotte will also have fared well. 

5 August - Nicola potatoes

In the mini-greenhouse on the plot, the chillies were doing well but I noticed brown lines on the jalapeños and wondered what the cause might be so I looked it up and found that it was both significant and common. The jalapeño heat level varies from mild to hot depending on growing conditions and can be from a few thousand to over 10,000 Scoville heat units. The number of brown scars on the pepper is known as 'corking', and is an indicator of heat level. Growing conditions which increase heat level also cause the pepper to form scars.

7 August - Orange Habaneros

7 August - Jalapeño 


I picked the yellow wax (banana) chillies that were growing outside. There were courgettes and patty-pan squashes to harvest and I also picked some of the climbing French beans and some purple dwarf ones.

7 August -Courgettes, beans, peppers & squash

At home, the Orange Habaneros were ripening

8 August - Orange habanero

On 10 August beefsteak tomatoes seemed resistant to ripening, despite all the sunshine we have had - am I being too impatient? (It's the watched kettle phenomenon again)

10 August - Marmande tomatoes

There had been a delivery of tree prunings and woodchips on the allotment, so this was a cue to take advantage of the good weather and renew the central path and the paths between the beds.  There was, however, a lot of couch grass and bindweed to be removed.

10 August - bindweed and  couch grass roots

Having removed the weeds, I laid a layer of cardboard and spread the wood chips on top.
10 August - footpath renewal

10 August - footpath renewal

On arrival on the plot on 13 August I was confronted with swarms of flying ants - it must be "flying ant day"!  Contrary to popular myth, however, there is no such thing as "Flying ant day" but the pehenomenen does occur around the same time each year, between July and August and follows a period of hot weather.  The actual day will vary in different parts of the country and it is when the emerging new "queens" leave the nest with swarms of male ants, with whom they mate, and then go on to form a new colony.

Flying ant day is fairly harmless to humans but not very pleasant to experience.

"Flying ant day"

It was another warm dry day on 16 August  with temperatures in the low twenties.  It was hot work, but I continued to renew the paths.

16 August - path renewal

It was also time to harvest the borlotto beans.

16 August - Borlotto beans

I took these home and laid on trays and left them in a sunny place indoors to ensure they were fully dried
Borlotto beans drying

Whilst on the plot, I also lifted some more Nicola potatoes.

2nd Early Nicola potatoes

At last, on 17 August, the beefsteak tomatoes appeared to be ripening.

17 August - Marmande tomatoes

We were about to go away for a few days to celebrate my 78th birthday so I gave the plot a good watering before we left in case the dry spell continued.  We were spending a week in Holland and had glorious hot weather, although I was pleased to hear that there was some rain back home!

On our return on Friday 26 August it was great to see that the tomatoes were ripening nicely and we had a good haul of both Super Marmande and Yellow perfection cherry ones.

26 August - Marmande & Yellow perfection tomatoes

The earlier sown beetroots were looking healthy and might be ready soon and the later sown ones had germinated.

26 August - beetroots

The Crown Prince squashes and pumpkin had benefited from the recent rain and had increased in size

26 August - Crown Prince  squash

26 August - Pumpkin

The purple dwarf French beans were flowering again so there are hopes of a new crop.

26 August - French beans flowering

There were also more plums to be picked.

26 August - plums on the tree

26 August - Plums for the eating

26 August - Cucumber on the vine

26 August - Patty pan

26 August - good harvest

The month was drawing to a close and autumn is approaching but the temperature on 27 August was still in the twenties. At home I was waiting for more tomatoes to ripen.

27 August - Super Marmande

But there were lots of other tomatoes to be picked as well as chillies

27 August - Chocolate Cherry tomatoes and Habanero chillies

27 August - Tomato harvest

It was decision time about the plums - and I decided to try a plum tarte tatine.

27 August - preparing for a tarte tatine

Tarte tatine before turning!

On 28 August I decided to do something with an old redundant wheelbarrow.  I had tried , in vain, with WD40 to free the wheel but without success. Should I take it to the dump or find a new use?  I decided to convert it to a planter! Firstly, I painted it.

28 August - painting the wheelbarrow

The following day, I continued painting, having drilled some holes for drainage.

29 August - the wheelbarrow project

30 August it was time to plant the new planter. I planted winter savory. pineapple mint, French tarragon, grapefruit mint  and some cinammon basil  which someone had given as a birthday present.  The new trough was more for the bees than for us as we have a plentiful supply of herbs at home.

30 August - the wheelbarrow planted

30 August - the wheelbarrow planted

There were still more plums to be picked!

30 August

I began to make some plum jelly and put it to strain overnight

31 August - Jelly making day

It has been a strange year so far and the weather forecast is that temperatures will drop in September with quite a lot of rain.  The garden certainly needs the rain but I hope we see enough sunshine to ripen the rest of the tomatoes, peppers and squashes.

John Austin

Hove, August 2022

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