• Petra Fulham

August in the Garden

Flowers in full bloom, second succession sowings, growing outdoor tomatoes, Irish weather and lots more!

As I sit here typing my August post the rain is pelting down and the garden is looking sodden and limp. We were away to the West of Ireland for a week with the most incredible weather, enjoying all the wild plants and scenery. I guess that is the beauty of Irish weather, and one as a gardener you simply have to work with. I'm learning more and more about the conservation of water, making sure I can harvest as much rain as I can in the water butts and containers. Indoor plants prefer rain water and show their appreciation in their returning vitality.

In previous years August would come and I'd be wondering how to extend crops with little know-how and think there was little to grow over the winter months other than the garlic. This year with some more inspired reading (and hindsight) I've managed to plan ahead with second successional sowings of carrots, beetroot and salads that should see us through the autumn. I'm feeling super organised with my winter-greens of Curly Kale and Purple Russian Kale. I find late summer sowings are better for these veg as they have the warmth and time to put on good growth when its still warm and then continue to crop when the weather gets cold- giving the leaves a beautiful hearty flavour rich in polyphenols. Also with fresh chard planted (as the summer lot bolted pretty quickly), turnips in the raised planter, more coriander seedlings to go out and a second sowing of the purple French beans, I'm hopeful there will be lots of variety when the cooler weather comes.

The greenhouse is bursting with tomatoes and grapes, and the cucumber Picolino F1 is doing really well. I feel I've really maximised this little covered growing space which is its own hybrid of greenhouse come potting shed. But most importantly its served as almost a sanctuary for my quiet morning coffee and contemplation. A place where I can sit amidst the plants, look out at the garden and quieten a busy mind. The outside definitely needs a lick of paint and some tlc to tend to its lovely energy. A project I'm looking forward to.

As much as I love growing tomatoes in the greenhouse I have REALLY enjoyed watching them grow outdoors! I planted two Marmande beefsteak variety plants in the sunniest spot in a back bed and have been amazed that with very little minding we are getting a seriously good crop. Together with fresh basil, soft mozzarella cheese and good olive oil- lunch is sorted with crusty bread.

And so to the exciting triumph that is my first pumpkin! At least I hope so. I planted one in the front border which has a set fruit on it and growing at a comfortable pace, and then the squash which was growing down the drive way! I managed to guide it up a trellis for support and it too has at least one healthy set fruit. I guess that was my goal- one fruit on each plant!- they could be the most mollycoddled pumpkins in the country! We'll see how they fare in September.......

As with most gardeners it comes to this time of year where we have thoughts about planning our growing for next year. On my wish list are some beautiful tulips from Sarah Raven and cosmos and more dragon snaps from the incredibly beautiful selection from Swan Cottage Flowers. From a structural planning part- the removal of the poorly apple tree has left a lot of space to recreate something new!

As family life prepares for our four children to return to school after 6 months, and work-life picking up with my teaching commitments and clients, I recognise what a special time the garden has offered me with the pandemic circumstances. On a personal note, the additional time in the garden and potting shed have helped me learn so much about the tempo of life that allows me to thrive in the creativity of growing and create space for venturing into new work projects. Staying present in these last few weeks of summer and holding space for the creative flow that the Autumn season may bring.