With all this sunny weather, everything in the garden is booming and we are picking raspberries every day. My newly established gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes have yielded their first small harvests. The climbing beans are well up the poles and in flower, peas and mange tout the same. The brassicas are looking healthy and the earliest, calabrese, we're already eating. Here's a photo taken through the debris netting that keeps off birds and butterflies.
Good crops of apples, pears, quinces and damsons are well set and I am hoping that I shall finally be able to harvest my own tomatoes. I have 18 plants grown from seed indoors from four varieties before being planted outside and three donated by a friend who heard of my previous failures. The plants are scattered about in groups hoping that at least one lot will prosper. Sod's Law says it's overkill and we shall be inundated this year but we live in hope and spend a lot of time watering.
Three cucumber plants have finally started to climb. The first courgettes are swelling and a squash vine is showing signs of growth. Common herbs (thyme, sage, marjoram, mint and chives are doing well but my bay tree took a turn for the worse and seemed about to expire. I have pruned it savagely in hopes of saving it's life.
This afternoon, I dug up some horse radish roots - not because it's a good time to harvest the stuff but because it was spreading too near other plants. The roots have been turned into puree and frozen. If any reader fancies having some of this powerful stuff, by all means get in touch.
I have had to put fencing around most seedlings when first planted out to stop the pesky fox population from damaging anything they find in freshly tilled soil. So far this has worked well. I can't, of course, fence off potatoes and they are growing vigorously but, foxes have still managed to trample some of the tops. They have also trodden down onions that I was unwise enough to plant across a spot that it is now clear foxes use as a regular route.
Looking good, hopefully I'll be able ramp up the fruit and veg over the next few years. Any tips for protecting soft fruit trees from squirrels.
I have known squirrels to take strawberries (which I don't now grow) but I think the main predators on my other soft fruit (eg gooseberries and plums) have been pigeons at both the budding stage and when the fruit is ripening. Most of my previous generation of bushes expired of old age or worse and I have planted new ones in a wire fruit cage which keeps out birds, foxes and squirrels but not bees. As the bushes are still smallish, I have a few tomato plants in there this year.
As for bigger trees, I know of no way of keeping squirrels out. They can be discouraged a bit by having to move around at ground level where the foxes can get them. Also, they can be distracted by having a different food source nearby that they prefer. This is my present situation because there is a huge walnut tree for them to steal from and when that's done there's a huge pear tree loaded with rock hard pears that squirrels prefer to attacking my apples. Country lore says that encouraging rooks to nest in their trees can repel squirrels but that is hardly likely to be useful in an urban garden. Neither is the idea of cladding the trunks of trees with sheet metal that squirrels can't climb up. This solution depends on the trees being big enough and spaced out enough so that they can't jump across. Also hardly relevant in an urban garden.
Frankly, birds, butterflies and foxes are a bigger problem for me than squirrels but this is partly because of what I grow and those competing food sources. In other circumstances I would trap the little blighters.