May in the garden  June 7, 2024

Volunteer Steve with a bumper harvest of garlic, lettuce and broad beans

As I’m sure the keen gardeners among you have noticed, the weather has continued to make working outside a little tricky.  

The persistence of rain coupled with the low temperatures has held up our ability to do tasks like planting out our summer veg and annual flowers, but we have finally managed to get out in the last week – dodging between showers – and get most of it done. We have had to do a lot more potting up than anticipated this year, simply to prevent the plants being held back while we waited for a suitable gaps between downpours. 

Now most of our plants are in the soil, we have also been able to put the remainder of this year’s summer plants onto our sales area, so the tables are now pretty well stocked with cucumbers and courgettes, sunflowers and snapdragons… All of these are the result of the hard work of our volunteers, and all money from sales goes back into supporting the work of Martineau Gardens so why not pop down and grab yourself a bargain?  

Bumblebees on chive flowers

We’re also very grateful to some of our lovely supporters, who have donated some very interesting plants including friendship plants, alpines and some lovely ornamental grasses – a particular favourite of mine. We’ll find a permanent home for some of these onsite but others will also go onto the sales area to support the gardens – a donation we are very thankful for. 

One thing that has grown exceptionally well despite the conditions has been the weeds – or, I should rather say wildflowers. We tolerate – and in some places encourage – a lot of things on site that many people wouldn’t perhaps want in their gardens including mustard (some may know it as Jack in the Hedge), cow parsley and hogweed as their flowers are important for our insect population. That said, as soon as the seed pods were observed beginning to form on the mustard, we spent a bit of time conducting a cull to prevent them spreading much further. The last thing we need is a monoculture of mustard! 

A hoverfly on a hogweed flower

The beans and peas that we sowed at the end of last year have really performed well and we are currently having a good harvest of these, as well as our winter lettuces. As it’s their work, our volunteers often take our organic veg away to eat, but anything left is placed onto sales on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis, which isn’t bad for organically grown veg!  

Despite our early harvest of broad beans, the dreaded black bean aphid has made an appearance and we are keeping our fingers crossed that our policy of trying to attract predatory insects to deal with the problem for us will pay off. We recently moved our bug hotel to the wildflower area and the volunteers have built a green roof for it so a little gratitude on the part of the ladybirds and lacewings wouldn’t go amiss.

Our palatial new bug hotel

Let’s hope that the weather improves a little over the next month and we actually see some sunshine to help our summer fruit and veg along. I’m not holding my breath.