Garden update

· gardening ·

After the torrential rain of the past month or so, we finally got out into the garden today to do a bit of tidying up. We're incredibly lucky not to be among the people having to leave their homes because of flooding. We live on a slight hill, and are a reasonable distance from the nearest river, so we've been very lucky. The garden has not escaped quite so lightly.

The slugs seem to have had a population explosion in the damp weather. Most of our smaller seedlings (bunching onions, beetroot and salad crops) just disappeared overnight, with only a tell-tale silvery trail to reveal the culprit. After a very promising start, our 'three sisters' bed (beans, sweetcorn and squashes planted together -- a technique employed by the Iroquois), is down to two rather sickly sisters existing on income support rather than each other's strengths. The squashes started out wonderfully, but despite every organic anti-slug measure we could devise, we would look out each morning and find another healthy plant reduced to a chewed stump. The sweetcorn got a bit munched as well, and with the lack of sun, it hasn't grown a great deal. This in turn means that the beans don't have much to climb up. I was recounting this tale of woe over the garden wall to our elderly neighbour the other day, and he said incredulously, "Didn't you put slug pellets down?". He's probably right: despite my aversion to putting poisons down, it's probably the only thing which might have stemmed the slimy tide.

Anyway, I put some canes in this morning to provide the beans with something other than weedy sweetcorn to climb up, and the mizuna, tatsoi and rocket we planted in hanging baskets (Ha! Take that slugs!) has done very well. With all the rain, the (many) tomato plants have gone crazy, and seem to be making a bid to leave the garden by crawling along the ground. I don't know what it is with our toms, but they don't seem want to be vertical. I pruned back some stems to allow more light in to the tiny developing fruits, and hauled some of the healthier stems upright and tied them in.

On the positive side, our yellow mangetout peas are doing really well, and producing some delicious pods for our stir fries (food miles = approximately 3 m). They also looked really unhealthy for a while, but are happily fruiting anyway. Our chocolate peppers (indoors and thus out of slug range) are also doing tremendously well, and have dozens of big, glossy green fruits which we hope will ripen to their final 'chocolate' brown before too long.

Determined to try to get some more out of the season, I made some space in the beds, fertilized them well and sowed some more seeds of the oriental veg, kale and onions, so hopefully they will romp away if we have another late autumn (and we get a bit more sun).