July 15th blog: drought & watering, small garden, heat & aubergines, lettuce; new sowings 8


No rain since my last post, just a dusting of 4mm in June so it’s now full-on drought. At least the grass does not need mowing, but we are spending a lot of time with a hose, and I wonder what the water meter will read. It’s either that or no salads, and increasingly other veg need watering too.

However the garden is looking well, helped by plentiful sunshine. A dry summer is better than a wet one, within reason!

Unwatered veg

There is only so much time and water. Therefore I am estimating which vegetables can bide their time, just surviving until it may rain (my best bet is late August). So far I have not watered celeriac, beetroot except new plantings until established, onions until first water two days ago, climbing beans until first water four days ago, courgettes, raspberries, asparagus and most squash.

Drought soil

The photos say it. Homeacres soil is silt, dense enough to crack open when unmulched.

Change of mulch for drought 

Normally I mulch only with compost, for fear of slugs, also to help soil warm up.

This summer I have kept some crop residues as mulch for new plantings, for example after we mowed the bed of pea shoots, we then planted salads through some (not all) of the haulm. Also I am trialling “digestate” residue from methane production, it’s a ‘vegan’ one of grass and maize called Bloomin’ Amazing, though it’s not organic.

And I have been using mesh to cool plants – it’s cooler than fleece.

Small garden

I posted a new video in this series this morning, showing failures as well as successes, I hope you enjoy it. The next video will be on #nodig potatoes, from sowing to pulling.

Small garden 2

This garden receives three to five minutes of water every day, by hose from the mains supply.

Aubergines

So far, the perfect summer for them. Normally we are lacking in warmth…  In June our average day maximum was 23C/73F, while so far in July to 15th it is a phenomenal 27C/81F. Average 21.5C.

Potatoes

On 12th July we harvested Charlotte and Gourmande, they were going pale and had grown well, plus I wanted to plant leeks in that space. You can see the harvest on my next video: each plant gave 1.8kg/4lb potatoes, and it’s the 4th year consecutive of potatoes in this area.

Tomatoes

Another plant that is enjoying the sunshine, providing one can water. Although the small garden tomatoes have not received much water until recently.

I remove lower leaves only, to keep plants tidy, transpiring less water and to make picking easier.

Cucumbers

For cucumbers undercover, grown as cordons around strings, I cut off lower leaves as with tomatoes. AT the top they are now looped over the wire, along a little and coming down.

Soybeans for edamame

A mystery for me, the first time I tried them. Until a week ago we had given them no water, but now there are some pods swelling. They are so much slower than French beans.

New plantings

So much still to sow and plant, I so hope my weather forecast is wrong and that we have some rain. Otherwise, more watering.

Weeds

We have alsomt no annual weeds thanks to no dig, and the dry weather. However wherever there are roots of bindweed, its growth is phenomenal and needs regular removal. The photo is not for weeding though, lesser/field bindweed in grass near to my beds.

Lettuce

My most valuable crop, so I look after them. These were sown 4th June.

Growth

These two photos show the growth in 7 days, also you can see how the potato bed in middle is now leeks. The climbing beans have barely grown however, hence my decision to water them.

Miscellany

I hope you enjoy these images and have found the blog helpful.


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8 thoughts on “July 15th blog: drought & watering, small garden, heat & aubergines, lettuce; new sowings

  • James

    Hi Charles, great post as always. I too have got my hands on some Bloomin Amazing to trial. I only started no dig on my allotment this year and have used this on some and compost on others. So far it seems to be very good. 3 weeks ago I covered a bed of soil with Bloomin Amazing quiet thickly and planted a selection of lettuce plants into it. They are growing really well and look very healthy. It’ll be interesting to see how you get on and how my other beds with it on do. James.

  • Stringfellow

    Interesting ideas Charles, thanks. Main lesson here thus far has been using mesh to keep flea Beatles off brassicas as second plantings; not experienced this issue so acutely before. Mesh must be held off the leaves otherwise they sit on the mesh and eat leaves through it! Your potato trial is interesting, now in its fourth year. Yields over the long term will be intriguing; old timer on our site remembers land being well over cropped for spuds during WWII, but perhaps this was a double cropping of spuds (earlies?) and don’t know re. Fertilisation/ soil feeding.

    • charles Post author

      Flea beetles are often bad in dry years and aren’t we lucky to have mesh, I don’t know how I would manage without it.
      That repeat cropping of potatoes will have involved some savage cultivation of the soil, so this is different! I am unsure how long to continue with it.

      • Hawfinch

        Interesting this potato experiment you’re doing. I took on a new allotment this March and planted potatoes not knowing where my predecessor had had any. Turns out it was exactly where I have mine, I keep finding volunteers. The problem is I have Colorado beetles on them now, and Google “says” that it can be caused by growing them for too long in the same space. Strangely enough, none of my neighbours have the beetles, I thought they would spread over a large area.

      • charles Post author

        Thanks for your input on this Hawfinch and I expect that if we had colorado beetles, I would not be repeat cropping!

  • Boris

    Hi Charles, i m following your blog and videos since 2 years now. Thank you so much for sharing your very solid knowledge! I started a no- dig-garden in Northern Germany this spring on very weedy pasture and it has worked out very well so far !
    Do you use pure compost for sowing in modules? I have used pure municipal compost and results have been somewhat mixed.
    Thanks, Boris