Yes, I know its hot and you just can’t bear it, but you knew all that when you started gardening so remember our motto: “when the going gets tough, the tough get hoeing”. Anyway, you think you’ve got problems, the idiot son has been with us on holiday and Cruella (my wife) has fixated on him being the next Chicken Messiah and leading her flock to the promised land. More chicken stuff later, in the meantime let’s get on with the important gardening.
18th July. Things I have been doing lately:
Selecting flowers for next years seeds. Wherever, possible I grow plants from my own seeds or cuttings. This not only improves your knowledge of gardening and is very inexpensive, but more importantly it will bring you joy. To get the best seeds you need to assess your plants as they flower. Look for good strong plants, with well shaped colourful flowers. You then need to select the best and mark them by placing a piece of masking tape around the stem; this will stop you deadheading the selected flowers as you want them to go fully to seed. There is no point waiting till all the flowers are dead and then selecting seedpods as they all look the same. The photos below show my flower marking system in action. Click on each photo for a larger view.
One of the major benefits of selecting flowers is that in the Darwinian sense you are mimicking natural selection and will get bigger better blooms. The photos below show me with some Marigolds that are over a metre to a metre and a half tall. I have been selecting these for about 6 years. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Time to cut back your Dame de Noche. If you have Dame de Noche (night scented Jasmine), and you want late season flowers, then now is the time to cut back. Cut the whole plant back by a third (no more). By taking a third off you will stimulate the plant into a growth burst that will reward you with a full flowering in September that will fill your late summer evenings with its intoxicating perfume. The photos below show my Dame de Noche before and after its trim. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Dealing with pests. With the intense heat you are probably not getting out in your garden as much as you should. But this does not mean that nobody else is in your garden. On the contrary garden pests are enjoying this weather, and proliferating and destroying your plants. You need to get out there and check stems and under leaves to see what is eating your prize plants. How you deal with these pests is up to you, chemicals or no chemicals, but deal with them you must.
The photos below show pests getting set to destroy parts of my garden. The first photo shows Farmer Ants happily setting up a Greenfly farm on my Dame de Noche, whilst the second shows an infestation on my Dipladenia. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Shading plants. I always argue that the right plant, in the right place should be able to stand anything thrown at it by the weather. And I stand by this maxim providing the plant is in the ground. However, if it is in a pot then it is different. Plants in the ground can always take their roots deeper to find cool and moisture. But this is not the case with plants in pots, they have no where to go and they are trapped in hot plastic buckets.
I don’t really grow vegetables, but at the moment I am growing some Chillis and a couple of Avocados and they are normally fine in full sun. But lately it has just been too much for them and they have been dropping leaves in distress and in the case of the Avocado it has become badly scorched. I have had to move all these plants to the rear North facing terrace where they will get early morning and late aftrenoon sun, but miss the terrible heat of the middle of the day. They are all now recovering, but the Avocado looks terrible and gives me reproachful looks every time I walk by.
The first photo below shows the plants now thankfully recovering in the shade. The second photo shows the Avocado reproaching me. Click on each photo for a larger view.
The coming of the Chicken Messiah. As I mentioned earlier our idiot son is with us on holiday and he has immediately taken to Cruella’s fancy chickens, but more importantly they have taken to him. The chickens follow him round, feed from his hand and let him cuddle them as he puts them to “bed” at night Cruella is in paroxysm’s of joy as she believes he is the promised one, “the chicken Messiah”. Given that Cruella is our local Church Warden, I mentioned that this might be seen as blasphemous, but she quickly countered with “we are talking chickens here not our Lord and Saviour”.
Anyway the upshot is that she wants him to leave his very successful career in City finance and come back home to be the Chosen One. To this end she is teaching him Chickenese and the hidden secrets of chicken wrangling. Me! I just ignore it all and carry on gardening.
The various photos below show the idiot son and his new found chicken followers. The next photos show Cruella conducting her evening Chickenese lessons from her perch beside the coop. The final photo shows the Chicken Messiah with Tango the lonely blind Labrador. Tango doesn’t even know we have chickens I’ve told him we have a CD of farmyard sounds. Click on each photo for a larger view.