Flaming June

29 June 2023

Flaming June

For the past two months we have been experiencing a long, dry spell of beautiful, sunny weather but can you have too much of a good thing? Is the climate changing? It is interesting how quickly we forget the conditions experienced in previous years and how quickly our short-term memory tells us this is the wettest or warmest month we can remember so I thought I would examine some weather statistics from the past few years, which was quite a surprise.

How many of us remember the Spring of 2020 – the great lockdown – when we recorded 626 hours of sunshine in the UK, beating the previous high of 555 hours set in 1948.

This was also the driest Spring in Scotland since 1862 but was it the warmest? It seems that the warmest May day in Scotland is held by Inverailort which reached 30.9C on May 25th, 2012. Last month, our rain measurements ( not the most accurate) recorded 27mms of rain. Compare that to 100 mms of rain in the gardens in May 2021 or 66mms of rain in 2022 and it certainly feels much drier.

Fortunately, there are plants in the garden that like it moist and some that like it dry so, on balance, each year seems to cope with the differing parameters. Here is a photo of one of our meadows, gloriously bedecked with Pignut flowers ( Conopodium majus) a plant which seems to thrive regardless of the current dry conditions.

Trying to keep all the various vegetable plants alive in the Enclosed Garden and the polytunnels is proving difficult. Both these areas have a tendency to overheat and at times the tunnels can reach 54 or 55C so we have to be careful to limit our own exposure in these extremes.

We have underplanted the tomato plants with a crop of lettuce leaves. By inter-cropping we increase the productivity of the beds and help prevent the soil from drying out.  By the time the tomatoes grow taller the lettuce crop will be finished. Along the edges, we have planted parsley, chives and marigolds as these are well-known ‘Companion Plants’ for tomatoes. Companion plants are specifically chosen to create plant communities that help each other ’s growth or protect each other from pests. So, we hope that our plants will be healthier and produce a larger crop. Either way, it looks really pretty.

 We have started up our weekly supply of fresh vegetables to the food bank and even though many of our vegetables are still too young to harvest, we are managing to send a decent amount of food each week. This should increase as the Summer progresses and more vegetables mature and it is rewarding to see the results of all our weeding and watering beginning to transform into delicious produce.

Hopefully, those of you who are growing the ‘tatties in a bag project’ are beginning to see some impressive growth in your potato plants. Over on our Facebook page, We have been getting some great picture from thoses of you who have been taking part in the ‘Tatties in a bag’ project.

Remember to keep them well watered and top up the compost level above the growing leaves to increase your harvest. If you are not a vegetable grower then make time to appreciate all your beautiful flowers. Roses are particularly good this year. 

Out and about, there are vibrant patches of wild poppies, foxgloves and Ox-eye daisies blooming in any spare patches of ground. Instead of Flaming June, we should say Flowering June!

Post by Margaret
Margaret is the Head gardener and leads the Gardening team.

Catherine Bradley.<br />

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