Once more we’ve arrived on the summer equinox; midsummer’s day, the longest day of the year, and where on this day last year we were experiencing just the beginning of what would turn out to be one of the best summer seasons on record, this year’s late spring/early summer weather has been a considerable challenge for every gardener especially across these isles of Ireland and the UK.
It has been wet; very wet on occasion, and it has also been extremely dull, and with the low light level and constant rain we’ve had to make late sowings of many of the monster’s staples as the original sowings and plantings were either washed completely away or withered through chill and lack of full bright light, and even though today began with such promise with clear skies and sunshine from before 5.00am, it has since become cloudy and brooding with a mid-afternoon temperature of only 14 degrees Celsius, and a forecast for heavy thundery downpours.
But! It is what it is, and it most definitely is mid-summers in Ireland. We’ve not much to tell that would be any different from a retelling of earlier posts and the whys of why we’ve had to redo a lot of things we’ve had to redo on the plot, because, as just intimated it has been all weather related, and it has been little more than a copy and paste scenario with late April into early May, and now into early June…So, we’ll just update with a few images for now.
28th day of May; current temperature 11 degrees Celsius and in a fresh northwesterly it feels more like 8 degrees. 147 days of the year gone and 218 till we’re back with a January.
It has been an average spring, meterologically speaking: sunshine and showers, thunder and lightening, late frosts, and rough winds a plenty to shake those darling buds.
RHS Chelsea has come and gone, Chatsworth kicks-off next week whilst here on our own little green isle the biggest event in the Irish gardening calendar gets under way once more in just 3 days time when the Bloom festival in the Phoenix Park opens for its 13th year. The spring Bank Holiday was observed yesterday across the pond, while next Monday sees us here in Ireland celebrate the Whitsun holiday and with that the official onset of early summer.
We’ve not posted anything at all since the Greenfingers reminder in early April. We’ve had a little time on our hands of late, an imposed time-out necessitated by our own incongruant numbers of sorts, but, we were paying attention; idly perhaps, but definitely nonetheless. Did you know that there was a total of 27 medals awarded at this year’s RHS Chelsea show? Did you know for instance, that the greatest number of consecutive gold medals ever won at this same show was 60, by Hilliers Nursery, Romsey, from 1939-2004? and something you may not know is that left with the time on our hands we discovered that we have 79 different varieties of flower and vegetables on the monster’s measure this year, and in remembering that we still have some late varieties of swede and cabbages to go out, and late tenders for the polytunnel still to sow, well, that should tip the our sowing diary over the 80 mark before too long.
The curtailment in physical activity the last 6 weeks at least directed dirtdigging interest elsewhere. We now know the 10 Top Pots for Summer Patios and the 20 Best Gardens Along The Wild Atlantic Way. We also now know 5 Fiery Blooms for instant colour and 7 sure-fire steps to a greener lifestyle. We are also reliably informed that we can have 12 months membership of the RHS for only 9 months subscription, oh! And that the number 1 plant at the RHS this year is a sedum (one of our favourites btw) sedum takesimense ‘Atlantis’. It’s all about the numbers. You need a score of 27 points for a gold medal award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and just to make things a little more challenging from next year those wishing to win one of the coveted medallions and seals will now have to score 30 points.
Monster in the corner set out its stall 9 years ago, and a little over 2 years ago had to endure a forced move and relocation, but it all came good, so much so that awards for best in category and class were presented to the monster in 2015, 2016 and 2017. We’ve a little catching-up to do but not too much, the Monster’s measure is well laid, and Mrs. Dirtdigger’s fingers are truly greened. We will stake-out the planting paddles this weekend and once we bed the French beans and pumpkins in the coming fortnight we will be all set for summer 2019.
Last year’s monster bounty saw us make (among other things)120 jars of jam, 9 jars of chutney and over 40 jars of tomato sauce and salsa, and the first preserves of this year’s season should be jarred in the coming days. So just as the Sowing Diary entries wane, the Monster’s Mouth pages now increase.
50 pots of purple cascade sown; 6 greenshaft courgettes, 7 black beauty, cucumbers and almost everything else put to bed. 25 days left till the full-bright, midsummers day and still plenty of time to get the kicks. But look after yourselves as you’d look after your garden, take a little time to garden the self, for as grumpy ol’ Sam Beckett once surmised there are More Pricks Than Kicks about the place; indeed, and as the good book itself records in Acts chapter 9 verse 25, it is hard to kick against this worlds pricks.
Hopefully we will have some long hot days to look forward to in the coming weeks, a few weeks the likes of those experienced last summer certainly wont go amiss but whatever the coming summer season brings, chill out, and we’ll post more anon..
Congenial it was; and complaisant, almost to a fault, winter 2018-’19 cut itself plenty of slack and although we’ll not venture so far as to say it was derelict in its duty, in its coming and going this past winter bequeathed us one of the mildest, driest winter seasons in many decades.
Temperatures were 2 degrees above average from mid January and all the way through February, with seasonal rainfall amounts along the east coast 50% down on long term comparisons. Temperature and rainfall only returning to normal expectancy with the arrival of many weathered March. Snowdrops and daffodils, hyacinths and squills have all put out fabulous displays; cherry blossoms are in full flower, and plum and apple blossom are on show well before equinox. The Kerria Japonica Plentiflora has certainly lived up to its name with masses of bright yellow bachelor buttons since mid February and the hydrangeas were in full open leaf a fortnight before St. Patrick’s Day. There has however, been a lot of rain the last two-three weeks, but with soil moisture levels quite tolerable for early March whatever spot flooding occurs dissipates rapidly and the open beds are trafficable a few short days later.
Our first full visit of the year to the monster’s measure saw us plant out the red and white onion sets and sow some trays of cosmos, zinnia and pheasant eye seed. We planted out some kale and Dutchman cabbage seedlings and we potted on the cayenne pepper and the Moneymaker tomatoes. We tidied border edging, scattered potash and phosphate granules around the fruit trees and bushes, and broadcast a good many handfuls of chicken manure pellets where we will be planting and sowing in the coming weeks. We have plum blossom and apple blossom, and the gooseberry bushes are leafing up. The blackcurrant buds are tight yet, but the redcurrant has burst bud, and there is bright new red growth on all the rose bushes. Close inspection of our raised beds has betrayed some remedial work we need to undertake in the short term; we will re-seal the shed exterior as soon as we get a dry and mild run of weather and there is still have a run of fencing that needs to be righted. As with every other allotmenteer and gardener we are about to move up and into top gear, and it is rewarding to be able to say that here, right at the beginning of the growing season we have already benefitted from the monster’s measure having enjoyed a couple of weekend pickings of Timperley Early rhubarb before March is out.
This afternoon’s temperature hit 16 degrees with moderate westerly wind which is more than pleasant for this time of year. There shall be cooler and colder days a while yet, and we’ll certainly have frost after dark for a good month still, but winter has set its sights northward. The new lambs are coming and the Brent geese are going, and the monster – just as with the Celtic spirit we celebrate this week– is greening up in style…