This past weekend was a frustrating one, with almost constant rainfall from late Friday until mid afternoon Sunday and temperatures more akin to April than mid-June (especially at night), so many jobs that needed doing, had to be postponed. Out in the beds, some of the plants are really suffering with the unseasonably low temperatures and I had hoped to apply a liquid feed to them on Friday evening, to give them a much needed boost. However, with the forecasters predicting heavy rain from late Friday night, I decided that applying a feed to the beds was pointless and so I restricted my feeding to the greenhouse plants. Thankfully, the weather for the next few days is set to be warmer and dryer, so I plan to apply the feed to the outside plants today and then give them another feed in 3 days (permissible according to the instructions) to try and kickstart a much needed growth spurt.
To add to our weather woes, Little Mudlet has been poorly since Friday evening, suffering, it would seem, from the same malaise that floored Middle Mudlet just two weeks ago which manifests itself with symptoms of high temperature, headache, lack of appetite, nausea and sore throat. Several children at school have had the same illness, although with varying degrees of severity. Some, like Middle Mudlet, have gotten away without the painful throat, others have gone on to develop full blown tonsillitis but most are somewhere in between and it’s a waiting game to see how far things progress with Little Mudlet. Whatever happens, due to her practically non existent food intake over the last two days and her persistent high temperature, she’ll be keeping me company today.
As well as preventing Mud and I from getting on with various jobs, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the colder than average weather is having an adverse affect on the garden, with many of the plants sulking and not at all happy with the state of play. Whilst the onions, potatoes, carrots and parsnips are happily putting on growth, other varieties such as the sweetcorn and the squash are sitting huddled up, refusing to spread their roots as rapidly as one would expect for this time of year. I can’t say that I blame them, it’s at least 2 to 3 degrees colder than the norm for June during the day with night time temperatures even worse than that.
We have had a few days of warmer weather over the last week or so and the difference in the plants is noticeable. The Jack O’Lanterns and Sweetie Pie Pumpkins have really put on a spurt and have thrown out their first proper vine, albeit just a couple of foot in length but even that’s a huge improvement compared to the Invincible Pumpkins, Winter Squash and Sweet Corn which had only just started to grow when this latest cold, damp spell arrived. The Met Office have promised warmer weather this week though and so, with luck, the plants will finally be able to get on with the job of growing, ready for flowering.
That said, I noticed that some of my Squash and Pumpkin plants were already starting to throw out their first flowers which, ordinarily, is a sight to gladden my heart but not this year! Not right now! Right now my plants are far too small to be thinking about anything other than putting on significant growth. Past experience has taught me that if I allow Squash or Pumpkin plants to flower and fruit whilst they are this small, then any fruit they produce will be tiny and unusable, not to mention far from abundant.
So I was left with a dilemma: let the plants flower and run the risk of a miniscule harvest of half a dozen tiny Squash/Pumpkins if I am lucky, or take a more radical approach, like, say, removing the flowers that are currently forming, in the hopes that with the warmer weather, the plants will put their energy into more growth before creating more flowers.
I opted for the latter, grabbed my scissors and nipped off flowers and/or buds from the winter squash and the Invincible Pumpkins. I’ve never taken this course of action with the squash/pumpkins before and guess only time will tell if this strategy works but, if previous experience is anything to go by, I shouldn’t be any worse off than had I left the plants to flower and produce tiny fruit.