Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hot June, July and August Nights

Neil Diamond got it only one-third right. Younger readers might need to Google Neil Diamond+Hot plus one of the above-mentioned months. I'm not telling you which. You young people have it too easy these days.

So what's been happening since April when I observed that spring had finally sprung?

Summer. It arrived in late May, it's still here, and shows no signs of disappearing. Week after week of high 30s and low 40s. Typical Italian summer heat - baking, without a breath of wind, but, thankfully, mainly dry heat.

L'Artista is getting jack of it. I just tell her to wait five months. We'll be back to this:

In the meantime, what's been happening in the orto?

This was the root vegie bed in May:

That's beetroot along the left hand side, adjacent to the first crop of spring onions - not root vegies, I know, but space is at a premium around here - with the first crop of carrots behind, radishes perpendicular to the beetroot, and very baby parsnip amongst some more radishes on the far side.

How times flies in summer. The same bed today:

The beetroot are finished, that's the third crop of carrots in the background, the second crop of spring onions adjacent to the remnants of the first crop, and the parsnips going for their lives. They won't be harvested until at least early December providing they've had some frost by that time.

Between times, we've eaten very well:

They're the Amsterdam Forcing carrots I've mentioned before. An early variety, lovely sweet flavour, very easy to grow. I've managed to squeeze in four crops so far this summer. The cuke is a Mini Lebanese, seeds from Australia via a friend, Trish. They run rings around the local cukes for sweetness and flavour. Though they need to be harvested no bigger than in the photo. Any more mature and the seeds will get in the way.

In fact, we're onto our second crop of the Mini Lebanese cukes:

The first crop was murdered by a couple of days of gale-force winds in early June. As tightly as the plants were tied to their trellis, the wind tore them to bits. Recognise the tub? In early spring, it was home to L'Artista's new early Aaron Pilot potatoes couresy of The Cousins from Dorset, England. And what a triumph the Aaron Pilots were. From only a handful of seed spuds, L'Artista had a dozen or more feasts of steamed new baby potatoes.

Here's one of the cukes almost ready for harvest:

Onions? Who mentioned onions? Well, I tested out one onion adage and proved it right - that they will grow in just about any sort of soil. This, on the top terrace, is where I planted a mix of onion sets and seedlings grown from seed:

In gardening parlance it's called crap soil. I pulled out the weeds, dug over the ground, and, on the basis that I was short of compost and terriccio - that's soil improver - I planted. Time to test the old onion adage. More about the soil problems in this orto when I get to the tomatoes, but, suffice to say, I'd tested the soil and it came up pure alkaline - a pH of almost 9.

Did it deter the onions? Four months later:

Some of the 10 dozen I harvested. And, after they'd dried suitably, L'Artista added her touch:

I suspect onions would grow in concrete.