I've been struggling to grow any decent lettuce this year. The weather has been just so hot and dry. This year my salads are in the Woodblocx raised bed. I would normally say this is perhaps too shady for them, since it is partially under the overhang of our Bronze Maple tree. This year though, I feel the plants probably appreciate some shelter from the scorching sun.
From a distance it doesn't look bad. Indeed a few of the lettuces, like this "Cocarde" one are OK.
Unfortunately, the majority are like this "Biscia Rossa" one - bolted.
I keep re-sowing and re-planting with fresh batches every couple of weeks, on the basis that maybe some of them will do all right. At some stage, presumably, the very hot weather will end and the lettuce will come into its own.
This is another vegetable that has had a bit of a hard time this year - Kaibroc:
In the Spring I put in 5 plants of this up at the Courtmoor plot, but all of them were killed by Cabbage Root Fly. I re-sowed another 5, and they seem all right. Three of them are up at Courtmoor, but the other two are growing in my own garden in one of the 35-litre plastic tubs that formerly held potatoes. They seem to be thriving in this tub (they are much bigger than their siblings), and are approaching maturity now.
Kaibroc is a hybrid vegetable, whose parents are the "Italian-style" broccoli (aka Calabrese) and the oriental Kailaan. The crop it produces is very similar to what you can buy in the shops labelled "Tenderstem Broccoli". As the name suggest, the stems are the main part of the crop, and they have relatively small flowers at their tips. In order to promote the formation of the succulent shoots, it is normal to remove the central flower before it gets very big. This is what I have been doing.
|The central flower of a Kaibroc plant - I think I probably let this one get bigger than the optimum size|
|Kaibroc plant after cutting the main flower.|
As all #GYO people know, nothing edible should ever go to waste, and I'm certainly planning to eat the little central flowers from my Kaibroc plants. This is four of them. The fifth plant is still too small to "have the op".
I think it's going to be a good year for chillis. Almost all of my chilli plants are already laden with fruit, with more forming every day. As long as they get sufficient water, they love the warm sunshine. Here are a few examples.
This is "Whippet's Tail", a variety I have not grown before. I got some seeds for it from a friend in a seed-swap earlier in the year. The biggest of its fruits are now about 25cm long.
One of the chilli plants I over-wintered was one I have nicknamed "Not Cheiro Roxa". It was grown from seeds sent to me by a friend, but his plant that produced them had evidently not been quarantined. The original Cheiro Roxa seems to have hybridised with an Habanero of some sort. It has these rugged green-and-purple fruits that eventually turn red (and very hot). After a slow start, this plant is certainly enjoying the hot weather and is now covered with flowers and fruits.
|"Not Cheiro Roxa"|
Chilli plants are attractive for a number of reasons, including their foliage. These leaves are on a variety called "Fish".
I think this one is "Calico". Again, I was sent the seeds for it by a friend who had no idea what it was. I'm basing my identification on the multi-coloured leaves and purple flowers. We'll see about fruits later...
Cucumbers also love hot dry weather! I have four plants, two each of "Marketmore" and "Delikate B".
I haven't been keeping track of how many cucumber fruits we'd had, but it is a lot. The "Delikate B" plants have produced a lot more than the "Marketmore" ones - probably twice as many.
I grew the "Delikate B" from seeds obtained at the same seed-swap where I got the "Whippet's Tail" chillis. I think they were originally from Lidl. I'll be looking out for more of them next year. The "Marketmore" seeds were kindly given to me by friends on Twitter.
|Plain green and spiky (foreground) is "Marketmore"; rough and stripey ones are "Delikate B".|
While we're talking about cucumbers, here's a little tip for you. Cucumber leaves are quite prone to mildew, and if this disease appears on your plants you may be able to stop it or at least reduce it, by spraying the leaves with a 50:50 mix of milk and water. Last week a couple of leaves on one of my plants developed mildew, but the milk spray stopped it before it really took hold. It's left the plants with a faint smell of dairies though...!