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Notes From a Small Garden

Jim reports that in the greenhouse, the first melon has ripened. It is rather small but very sweet and well worth the effort. The Burpless cucumbers are ready in batches. Of the two varieties of tomatoes Red Alert ripens first and then Shirley 2/3 weeks later. Julie is not sure whether she is going to have a good tomato crop or not; it’s still a bit early to tell.

The cherry tree in the Jim’s fruit cage (Stella) had the best crop ever and the surplus is in the freezer. This variety is ideal for a small garden as it is self fertile and does not need a pollinator. The Victoria plum has had its second thinning. The peaches have a moderate crop including the one grown from a stone. They are waiting for the late summer sunshine to ripen the fruit!!

The runner beans (Moonlight and St. George) are now being gathered and enjoyed. Julie’s climbing and dwarf French beans are too, although she had some worries about the beans setting.

Julie made her first visit to Hyde Hall RHS gardens near Chelmsford recently. There are lots of interesting plants which like dry conditions, to see in their beds leading up to the old gardens at the top of the hill. The other real plus of these gardens is that they sell many of the unusual plants that are grown there.

The best plant buying decision she made recently, looking at the lack of colour in one of her borders, was to go to one of our local garden centres and get two glorious purply-blue phloxes. She had noticed that some very old plants from her mother's garden (taken 35 years ago) had done particularly well this year, probably because they had some proper mulching in the early spring, and also the rain we had in the spring and in June. Moral: look after phloxes particularly when they are in a border as they can get lost! Mark them and remember they need water in a dry spring and summer.

Jim writes that the modern so called Cottage Garden is a world apart from the one the old boys’ remember. The garden would be part of the cottage economy when wages were low and working days were long. It would be dug and planted in the spring, usually Good Friday, with potatoes planted in the trench as digging proceeded. Any flowers grown, usually dahlias and chrysanthemums, would be planted at the end of the rows. Onion seeds or sets would have soot sprinkled along


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