Gardener's Almanac: Midsommar i sa ghairdín

Well we've finally passed the hump that is midsommar.  The longest day of the year has come and gone and the days are now getting shorter here in Ireland, by about 2 minutes per day.  I'm going to enjoy the fleeting days of twilight at 22.30 and the day breaking after 4am.

Mixed lettuce, courgettes, tomato, sweet corn, peas, kale, carrots, leeks
The garden is bursting with growth.  Which is heartening as our cold spring delayed everything by about three weeks.  I usually do a final planting in mid June and this year was no different.  Luckily, the shoots are coming up even if I'm having to beat the slugs off them.  I don't use any pesticides and never have, either on the edible or ornamental plants in the garden.  The raised beds and copper tape (and picking them off by hand!) work as a good deterrent to slugs but they are trying my patience in the back garden and have eaten all my sunflower sproutlings (I plant all seeds directly into the beds as well, something I enjoy and prefer but I may have to raise some plants to a good size inside before planting out specifically for the slugs) for the second year running.

Garlic fresh out of the garden!
Fortunately, the front garden bed seems to not suffer with any slug damage and mixed lettuce, courgettes, carrots, kale, one tomato, peas, sweet corn and leeks are all coming up nicely.  I harvested the garlic I planted out at Christmas and am going to boil down some of it to spray over the back veg beds as a pest deterrent.  I need to start harvesting the mixed lettuce as it will keep producing all summer and most of the autumn and will benefit from being cut back.

leeks and spring onions
 I spent a morning this week thinning carrots, leeks, kale, spring onions and courgettes, which all look to have a very good year.  Especially if we have an Indian summer, the harvest could go on long past Lughnasa.

Roses and the last of the alliums
The roses and peonies have performed very well this June, the peonies have now died back but the roses have hit their stride.  I'm hoping for more blooms off the Blue Rose bush I purchased at Bloom 2016 but time will tell. 

Planter at side of house: two lavender (at right and left) with Boston Ivy, miniature pansies and dianthus
The 4year old lavender bush at the front of the house has become very woody and is concerning me as it looks very bad and isn't thriving the way the other lavender is.  Its Spanish Lavender, which has an early bloom time, fair enough but I'm finding it trickier to look after.  The other lavenders I've planted about the place (two at side of house, three in the back garden and four in the little communal patch I've taken over at back of house) are all Sweet Lavender and seem to be thriving this summer, hopefully they will over-winter well.

You can just barely see the clematis climbing out of pot to left, winding around gate.
A couple surprises I've had this year is potatoes in the back garden growing (I thought I'd pulled them all up last summer) and clematis in a pot at the front gate which didn't do too well last year, I'd actually given up all hope on it.  Surprisingly its doing much better this year and might even bloom!  My hope is eventually to train it all through the front gate for an annual autumnal display but time will tell.

Well, that's about it for the garden round up.  The weeding and grass cutting / general tidying continues although I must say that once you make an effort to get all the weeds out, the job is fairly easy, even during the summer when they're coming up fast.  An ounce of prevention and all that but its very satisfying.  The task I'm really not looking forward to today (besides giving the inside of the house a good scrub when I'd rather be out working in the garden) is using my dutch hoe to remove all the grass growing between the interlocking cobblestone paving at the front of house.  It can make the worst nails-on-chalkboard sound and I'm sure my neighbours are sending me the evil eye if they're within ear shot!

Happy gardening everyone!


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