The benefits of warm weather
It was a relief to get some rain yesterday but the recent warmth has had some advantages. It seems to have accelerated the growth of some plants, which have done better than in previous years. In the now annual growth report, the albizia ‘Summer Chocolate’, which always comes into leaf so late that I always think it is dead, is looking better than usual and seems to have flower buds. It does this every year but they drop off when pinhead size, but maybe this year there will be blooms.
The nearby Clerodendrum trichotomum is better than usual too, perhaps because it is established and partly protected by the adjacent and now large Rosa roxburghii. It has never had so many flower buds or produced them so early in summer. Maybe I will even get the turquoise berries this year.
The biggest surprise has been the grapes in the polytunnel. Planted last spring, this has been the first (small) crop. A black variety made it known that the fruits were ripe because I noticed wasps moving in to eat the fruits. Next door is what is also supposed to be a black grape but, as so often happens, it is not what I thought I had bought and is a seedless white grape. I am actually not at all worried about that because, like so many people, I hate spitting out grape pips. I am sure it is not true, since she also told me that if I swallowed chewing gum it would get wound round my internal organs, but Mum told us that if we swallowed grape pips we would get appendicitis! I have tried a few of the grapes and they are delicious and are just like the small, seedless grapes that I used to sell when I worked in a greengrocer as a teenager. I think these were shipped from Cyprus and they had a short season but were always a treat. Anyway, it seems I have something approximating these and it is amazing that they are ripe in the first week of August!
The warmth has also helped the tomatoes to ripen. As expected, the cherry toms are the first to ripen and ‘Sweet Million’ is making me very happy with profuse, really sweet juicy morsels. These were sown mid March. A couple of varieties were sown a month later and are noticeably behind.
The autumn-planted onions and garlic are harvested but the spring-sown onions are starting to flop over and will soon be ready to dry off. These are ‘Roscoff’ onions, the type that used to be sold in the UK by French onion sellers on bicycles. I don’t remember this but apparently ‘onion Johnnies’ were a common sight and (I am ashamed to say) if I think of something ‘French’ I immediately imagine a man on a bike with a string of onions round his neck. I suppose it cold be worse – just. Anyway, ‘Roscoff’ onions are all the rage with chefs who attack lettuce with blow torches and maim cauliflowers. I did not grow as many as I should have because I had a lot of autumn-planted sets, not knowing that nearly all would ‘bolt’. That is the way of growing your own.
Posts have been a bit sparse in the past week or so. I had relatives visit to see what we have done here, and to see the cat, of course. Normal service should be resumed now.
Our tomatoes aren’t ripening either, only the cherry ones, as you said. Pretty grapes too.
Blue Rock Horses Frederick County, Virginia bluerockhorses.com
The warmer weather has certainly brought a spurt of growth to shrubs though the grass has suffered from drought. Though that Clerodendrum is very pretty it suckers like crazy.
It has started to sucker but not too badly so far. I love C. bungei too but that is even worse for spreading so I have been reluctant to plant it so far – but I am sure I will, somewhere it can spread and do no harm.
The suckers pull out with ease which is a relief.
Cannas dig the warmth, although I spray them with water to compensate for the aridity. People who are unfamiliar with our climate believe that it is a warm climate, and I suppose that it is, but it gets cool at night. That annoys a few plants that prefer more sustained warmth through the day. Even if they do not need it to be quite as warm during the day, they prefer a bit more warmth to linger into the night. That is why the sweetest sorts of grapes do not perform as well as other grapes here. Bell peppers ripen slowly, and even healthy plants may generate only one or two fruits.
That surprises me that peppers ripen so slowly and that long-season grapes don’t ripen well. I feel a bit better about my struggles with peppers.
Weirdly, they both peppers and grapes are agricultural commodities in adjacent counties. Climates are extremely regional here, but seriously, it seems to me that peppers and grapes should grow well here also. It is the cool nights that interferes with development. So, . . . I suppose that cool nights are more important than good peppers and grapes.