Gardener's Almanac: Lughnasadh Approaching

Veg bed in front garden - sweet corn, tomato, peas, mixed lettuce, courgette/zuccini, kale, carrots and leeks
Its prime growing season i sa ghairdín.  As autumn and the old harvest festival of Lughnasadh approaches (one of the four great fire festivals of the year in Old Times, the others being Samhain on 31 Oct/1 Nov; Imbolg on 1 February; Bealtaine on 1 May), its time to take stock and be grateful for the impending harvest.  There is much to do.

We're not long back from holidays in the States which were great but being away from the garden for two and a half weeks in July was probably not the greatest idea I've ever had.  The grass in the back garden was two feet tall in places when we returned so its taken a good few days to wrangle it back into some semblance of civility.

Unfortunately, all the miniature pansies I had in pots fared poorly when we were away and I'm trying to salvage them now.  The Boston Ivy to the side of the house also looks a bit worse for the ware which is frustrating as I'm pulling out ivy in other places of the garden, growing wild, but can't seem to get it to really take off in the one place I'd like it. The lavender planted last winter looks great though.  I'm so impressed with this variety that I will probably replace the Spanish lavender (very woody) with it to the front of the house.

Lavender, miniature pansies (cut back hard) and Boston Ivy (struggling)
On a plus note, the mixed lettuce is thriving and smells brilliant when just cut.  I shouldn't need to buy any mixed greens until November (fingers crossed!). And the peas, though not ready to harvest, are flowering and climbing well.
Mixed lettuce to left, peas at right (kale and courgettes/zuccini at back)
The one pumpkin I managed to sow and keep the slugs off is taking off and about to bloom.  Its a giant pumpkin variety so we'll see what the fruits are like.
Likewise, the one tomato plant which took in the front garden looks very strong and healthy and is just ready to flower.
Tomato plant
The two apple trees in the back are a mixed lot.  One seems to be doing very well but the other seems to be affected by some kind of scarring on both the leaves and fruit.  It doesn't look too bad but it doesn't look great and I'll have to look into if its caught some kind of apple tree flu.  
Apple tree 1 looking great

Apple tree two with some scarring on both leaves and fruit

I had given up on the sweet corn this year but it seems to have hit its stride now so providing we have good and warm weather through September, it could be okay. 
Sweet corn
The courgettes refused to grow in the back garden at all this year but have yielded to doing well in the front garden veg plot and are now flowering.  I planted them in and amongst kale, which seems to be fine by both but I'll keep an eye on it and make sure they have enough air circulation. There is white mildew in the soil, which is a constant scourge and affects both courgettes and pumpkins, but I stay on top of it by lifting it out when I can and spraying the leaves with a mixture of tap water and bread (baking) soda.  If you compost, make sure you do not put any leaves with this mildew in the compost (it can spread). After harvest this year, when I'm tidying up the beds I'm planning on mixing cinnamon into the soil as a mildew deterrent.  
Courgettes and a bit of kale

I continue to be impressed by how the herbs along the veg beds in the back garden are doing.  The chives, rosemary, sage, thyme and marjoram are all thriving.  There is mint on the opposite side of the garden which is doing so well I'm just letting it reseed itself.  I'm also taking mint leaves, crushing them and adding them to plain yogurt as a salad dressing.  Simple and really delish. 

Towers of mint, growing wild
Marjoram (in flower) and sage

Thyme, chives and marjoram
On a good note, I'm pleased that the dahlias have come back this year, fighting off some pests in the process (I don't use any synthetic pesticides) to emerge triumphant. One has had its first bloom and I'm waiting on the second to flower now. 

That's it so far.  At the moment I'm waiting for my drill to charge so I can finish drilling holes in the bottom of some planter window boxes so I can plant these.  I'm normally petrified of using the drill but this drill is so gentle...I swear I'm not convinced its not a toy.  I'm drilling the holes through pure force but hey.  The better I get using the drill the greater chance I'll actually be confident to add some trellising one day and maybe get some wisteria growing around the front door.  
Trailing petunias and foliage for front garden window boxes. 
Hope everyone is enjoying the last days of the summer season and has a great bank holiday this coming weekend. 


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