Autumn heatwave

by Pippa Greenwood

A disappointingly cold summer is often followed by predictions of a late heatwave. The predictions don't usually come true.

Watering a salad cropA disappointingly cold summer is often followed by predictions of a late heatwave. The predictions don’t usually come true. But this year, to my surprise, we’ve actually had an Indian summer.

Suddenly I’m glad that there’s still a dense layer of algae on the greenhouse glazing – it’ll help to provide some shade. And I’m happy that I made some late sowings of my favourite vegetables, which now stand a much better chance of putting on useful growth and thriving.

In this hot, dry weather I’ve been dashing around watering my newly planted garlic and onion sets, opening cloches and rolling back the vent covers on my new brassica frame.

I recently planted overwintering brassicas, so I rigged up some temporary shading for them, using old netting from the kids’ trampoline. It’s amazing how much difference the shade makes; you can feel the drop in temperature beneath the net, and the soil is noticeably damper.

Sitting in the sunshine, I’m watching the confused wasps buzzing around a bowl of strawberries, a second crop from early fruiting plants. I’m hoping the heat will prompt a little more growth of my pumpkins, and will ripen my new Cape gooseberries (Physalis peruviana). And if I’m lucky, the sun will dry out the soil surface and frazzle the slugs, stopping them from munching my winter lettuce.

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Gardeners' World Web User 05/10/2011 at 22:30

On the other hand...the seed falling from the wildflowers, the corncockle in particular, has already germinated. I fear the first frost will wipe these seedlings out and hopefully enough seed will still be on the ground for flowers next year.

Gardeners' World Web User 06/10/2011 at 07:41

Yes, Ryan, nature;s bounty is terrific this year because of the late hot spell. I had cleared away part of the vegetation in my veg. patch ready for hard landscaping and now it is covered with borage, love-in-the-mist, marigold and poached egg plant seedlings!

Gardeners' World Web User 06/10/2011 at 16:07

And the violets are flowering their socks off again in the "Woodland Edge"garden at the Botanic Garden, competing for compliments with the lovely pink and white Cyclamen hederifolium who usually have it all to themselves in the autumn. Pippa, you would be envious of the wonderful harvest in the Mediterranean Vegetable garden. Even the sweet and hot peppers have performed this year and squashes of every shape and colour, ridge cucumbers, and beans galore in many varities. Sweet corn ripening nicely and a good crop. But the thing that had me drooling today was picking the black pears. I remember their white, fine textured flesh from last Xmas and this year the tree was laden and they are twice as big!

Gardeners' World Web User 06/10/2011 at 20:35

Oh! Pippa I was horrifid that the weather in October so far is all out of rain I have just had some magor surgery so am unable to water my pots I am looking out of the window watching everything in pots gradually deing can't bear it.

Gardeners' World Web User 07/10/2011 at 07:43

Well I had a glorious time, ridding my front border of that pesky bitter cress and spreading about a ton of mulch (not my favourite job) that was made so enjoyable by the super colours of the rustic dwarf rudbeckia I had shoved in between the tree roots. They looked like velvet in so many different colours. A horrid job made easier all because of a packet of free seed from T&M given away with one of their offers in Gardeners World. Dare not look at the back garden - its raining right now and I just know what sort of greenery I shall find when next I get out there!

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