July/August 2022 News
July has been a challenging month to grow vegetables in the South-East, we’ve had a few mm of rain a couple of times that does very little and that on top of the mid July heatwave means the ground is very dry, and the plants are struggling. Our set up of 3 rented sites doesn’t allow for investment in reservoirs so we just use the bare minimum of irrigation using trickle tape in the fields to establish newly transplanted crops. We had to delay transplanting when the heatwave was forecast but have been able to do a limited amount since then, just planting small areas at a time so we can irrigate them before they die!. The early potatoes got enough rain and have done well but the maincrop varieties for storage are struggling and the onion crop is fairly small but at least not swamped by weeds this year! The squash and courgettes love the heat, although they still need water although we’re constantly amazed how many courgettes the plants keep producing with so little rain. Our carrots and parsnips are slow to get going, they prefer cooler, wetter conditions.
And then we got 12mm of rain during the evening on Sunday 31 July, very welcome, and will enable us to sow some green manure crops and work some ground to transplant the radicchio into. That 12mm will give all the crops a boost but we still need more..
Here’s some stats on the July’s rainfall in the UK, not sure if growing rain-fed vegetables in the South-East is such a good idea!!
Our small pond, the ‘Ripple Farm Watering Hole’ has had a lot of visitors during July, and during the week of the heatwave our trail camera captured images of 13 different bird species, including a turtle dove and a buzzard as well as a great image of a fox and a polecat/ferret hybrid (fairly rare in Kent).
Here’s some of the best images https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=ripplefarmorganics&set=a.3207636662887254
It’s a shame we don’t also have a pond on our main growing site at Wye, as the rooks soon found out the easiest way to get a drink was to peck a hole in the drip tape used to water in newly transplanted crops. Martin is trying to avoid them doing this by putting small tubs of water for them along the lines of irrigation!