Thursday 16 June 2016

Dull and gloomy - good or bad?

Over the past 10 days we have had a lot of dull and gloomy weather. It has not been particularly cold (day-time temperatures in the high teens most days), but it has not been sunny, and it has rained a fair bit. Is this a good thing or not? We gardeners are never satisfied. If it's too hot we complain about having to water our plants; if it's too wet we complain about the gardens getting waterlogged; if it's windy we complain about having to shelter the plants, etc!

Purple-podded Pea "Desiree"

Actually, although as a person I would prefer the weather to be brighter and sunnier, I think most of my plants are reasonably happy with the cool-ish, cloudy, fairly damp weather. They always say that legumes should have plenty of water once the flowers appear. Well, my Peas look happy enough, and the pods are beginning to swell quite nicely. I may end up with my best crop of them ever!

Peas "Early Onward"

Likewise, the Broad Beans are setting lots of lovely pods which are growing at a satisfyingly rapid pace:

Broad Beans "Robin Hood"

I don't know if you have thought about this before, but have you noticed that the Broad Bean pods start off being upward-pointing, and then as they mature they gradually shift towards a downwards-pointing posture?

Broad Bean "Masterpiece Longpod"

Broad Bean "Masterpiece Longpod"

Earlier in the year I grew some very nice Radishes at the foot of these Broad Bean plants (when they were small), but the second sowing I put in are not going to come to anything - they are just not getting enough light. The beans shade them on one side, but the low general light levels are a factor too:

Radish "Sparkler" - long and leggy
 The Climbing Beans are enjoying the gloomy conditions too.

Climbing Beans

The beanstalks are shooting up very rapidly. I find that sometimes they relish a little help with climbing the relatively smooth bamboo canes, so I tie a bit of soft string round them very loosely to hold them in place.

One or two of them have reached the top of their supports now. I nip them out when they get that far, which prompts them to put out side-shoots lower down.

Two Sundays ago we had a really hot day, and some of the leaves of the Runner Beans got "crisped" (technically called "Tip-burn", I believe). They won't know what's hit them if we get any real Summer!

The brassicas are doing OK too. Still practically no slug damage on my Cabbages!

Cabbage "Cabbice"

The Kale plants at the corners of the Broad Bean bed are getting to a size where I might be tempted to pick a few leaves. I had a nibble of one the other day and it was very tender and almost sweet.

Kale "Winterbor"

Well, some of the veggies evidently thrive in gloomy weather, but what about the flowering ones? My tomatoes are all in full flower now, though no fruit has set. I expect they would prefer some sunshine.

Bush tomato "Montello"

Beefsteak tomato "Caspian Pink"
Usually by mid-June I'm watering my container-grown tomato plants at least every other day, but I have not had to start that yet - it's about once a week at present, because they have been benefitting from rain showers practically every day.

The bush tomatoes certainly seem to be thriving:

Bush tomatoes - 2 x "Maskotka" (L), "Montello" and "Grushkova" (R). Chillis in foreground

Just like the cordon tomatoes, the bush tomatoes have lots of flowers, but none of the fruits have set just yet.


Right, so the overall verdict seems to be that the garden is managing OK without much sunshine... Rats! I want sunshine so that I can sit outside and enjoy my garden.


  1. It looks like all your plants are enjoying the wet and cool weather. And your tomato plants are loaded with blooms, so wonderful. That's interesting that you trim the beanstalks at the top of the canes, it makes sense that it forces them to form side shoots.

    1. If you don't nip them out they keep growing, and you end up with a dense tangle at the top of the canes, which makes the whole contraption very top-heavy and liable to fall / blow over!

  2. That's so interesting about the broad beans - does this happen for all the varieties you have grown and would you be able to determine when to pick the pods based on how much they lean over? I noticed that with broad beans, sometimes pods appear full, but when opened up, the beans were still on the small side, so I tried to "feel" to see if the beans had filled out, but I wasn't always successful & would pick them too soon.

    1. I couldn't honestly say this effect happens with ALL broad Beans, but certainly with most. I think the "feeling" method is still the only real way of telling if the beans inside the pods are mature. It's always a good idea to pick one or two pods very early, just so that you get an idea of how they are doing before they get over-mature and go tough and floury.

  3. The rain has ruined my roses this year, I'm hoping for a repeat of flowers and for the sun to come back.

  4. The slugs thrive in this weather too! I had noticed that about the beans but at the moment we have none big enough to point in any direction.

  5. Your plants do all look so healthy. I had been wishing for rain for weeks and then we get too much of it! Sarah x


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