It’s been the wettest April to June in our lifetime by all accounts, and we’ve certainly experienced the effects of the bad weather on the plot. The difference from last year is quite noticeable in several cases, a mixture of the the lack of sun and warm temperatures, the rain, and the impact of slugs – which have done exceedingly well in these wet conditions.
The slugs took, we reckon, about 80% of the strawberries, two plantings of courgettes, and have a good go at other crops, too. The copper rings managed to protect the salad crop this year – proving that they are one thing that does seem to deter slugs. They are placed around individual plants to keep slugs and snails out. Since these pests detest crawling on copper, the rings make a very effective barrier.
Plants that benefit from the warmth have done less well – courgettes and tomatoes especially. But other things have done well. The soft fruit – raspberries and blueberries cropped well, as did the strawberries, though we lost most of the traditional strawberries. The gariguette strawberries that we planted last year made a promising start, but best of all have been the wild, or alpine, strawberries that we transplanted from the garden. They have cropped heavily, and taste wonderful.
As for the vegetables, potatoes, broad beans and peas have done very well. We think the peas have benefitted from the mesh fencing that we acquired. We’ve had a long run of broad beans, benefitting from the late autumn sowing that began to crop in early June. We’ve done better this year with carrots, cauli and cabbage. We’re just starting to harvest French beans and runner beans, and they look promising, too.
One of the most noticeable things is the how late the blackberries are this year compared to last (top). This time last year we had already had several satisfying helpings off the brambles at the top of the plot. It’s something that’s been noticed across the country, as The Guardian reported this week:
Early indications from the army of amateur naturalists – or “citizen scientists” as they are now called by the project’s organisers at the Woodland Trust – show a delay of eight days over all previous first sightings dating back to the year 2000. Similar setbacks, almost certainly due to the dismal weather since late March, are also affecting rowan and elderberry.
Contrasts with last year are particularly stark, with the country’s first ripe blackberry recorded on 13 July compared to 4 June in 2011. The first sighting of a ripe rowan berry was on 1 July, compared with 1 June last year and of elderberry on 10 July 10 compared with 21 June.