by Matt Noyce, Head Gardener at Quarr Abbey
I am writing this on the first day of rain we’ve had on the Isle of Wight for 43 days. Here at Quarr, the visible strain has been obvious on the trees, which have been dropping their leaves as though it is a very early Autumn.
We have also noticed the habits of birds and animals altering due to their having to adapt to the heat and the complexities that drought can bring.
All this being said, I believe that our natural world is hugely resilient and that it will bounce back when the conditions are right.
The slow start to the year meant that we were expecting a later, longer season but with the intense heat came intense growing, and many of our crops reached their harvest time much earlier than would normally be expected. The onions dried superbly so these should last well into the Winter. Unfortunately, with the speed of growth came a lack of bulk, so the produce size is smaller than we normally would expect. But then again you can’t always have everything.
Lawn care has proved difficult with the introduction of hosepipe bans across the region and the fact that most grass now resembles prairie rather than luxury lawns. I daresay that most patches of lawn will spring back after a good soaking, but it may be worth giving them some extra care this season as they have been through a lot of trauma. Cracks in the ground can be infilled with fine topsoil and raked over. Overseeding may also need to take place in areas that don’t recover very well after watering.
Other jobs that aren’t so weather-dependent include trimming unruly hedges, now that the bird nesting season has passed (after the 1st September). Shrubs that have flowered can be pruned, and climbers such as Wisteria can also have this season’s growth pruned to the required length.
It’s definitely worth considering selecting your favourite root vegetables to grow into the winter months using selected winter varieties. These can be started now while the ground is still warm and the evenings are light.
Enjoy the rewards of your hard work over the Summer months! Now is a good time to celebrate your gardening achievements and savour the produce that you have grown.
Pictures by Matt Noyce.