SOS: Piglet’s Plot – Fruit and Vegetables in July

We are only halfway through July in the Western Algarve and already my vegetables have frizzled in the extreme temperatures and hot Southernly winds. With temperatures topping just under 40C and the serious threat of drought it’s time to start gradually winding down and covering exposed soil until the autumn. It’s been a while since I participated in Six on Saturday and to be honest, I have missed catching up with other gardeners around the globe.

1. Drought

Most of Portugal is facing extreme drought even more severe than in 2005. Despite pleas from the government to save water, I despair at some people’s complete lack of awareness and frugality. When I hear my neighbour watering her garden for over two hours with a hose I have to wonder and shake my head. What will it take before some people sit up and take notice and take the situation seriously?

We reuse as much water as possible in an attempt to reduce our consumption. For example, when we shower we collect the water in a bucket, wash our hands in a bowl, collect backwash from the pool and grey water from the washing machine all this is then used to water the plants.

 We are scaling back growing all fruit and vegetables to the bare minimum and will not be planting more in the main bed until the winter … if at all. But I have to wonder why we are going to so much effort and inconvenience when maybe we should also ‘just let tomorrow take care of itself’.

2. Main Vegetable Area

The remaining runner beans, carrots and courgettes are beginning to die off so over the next two weeks I will continue to cover the exposed areas of soil with black plastic to suppress the weeds while the area ‘rests’ over the remainder of the summer and we can conserve water.

Raised Vegetable Bed
Raised Vegetable Bed
Raised Vegetable Area
Raised Vegetable Area

Carrots

Although carrots are cheap to buy you cannot beat the taste of those you grow. Sadly, the last of these will be pulled today! Okay, they would not win any prizes for looks but they taste amazing!

Last of the carrotss
Last of the carrots

3. Strawberry Bed

Yep, you can be forgiven for expecting to see strawberries in a ‘strawberry bed’. Earlier this year we revamped this raised bed after invasive roots from the nearby melaleuca hedge and mint completely infested the area making it unusable. We created a brick base, laid plastic sheeting as a root barrier, and then added manure and soil from the compost heap.

We stood back to admire our handy work and the virgin bed. Satisfied we planted about fifty strawberry plants all neatly spaced like soldiers on parade. Sadly, for whatever reason, most of the plants withered and died. Luckily Mother Nature had other plans for the bed and provided a chaotic mixture of tomato plants, squash and physalis (Chinese gooseberry) probably thanks to me meticulously composting all the green kitchen waste.

Hmmm … the squash leaves are rather yellow … not enough or too much water. They need feeding again or have had too much feed …

At the far end of the bed, I planted mixed lettuce seedlings. I’ve covered these with crates to provide some protection from the sun and enthusiastic blackbirds harvesting the worms.

Raised Strawberry Bed
Raised Strawberry Bed
Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash

The self-seeded butternut squash has already provided six free squash. There would have been more but due to the lack of bees, I had to hand pollinate the female flowers with a paintbrush.

Strawberries - some of the survivors
Strawberries – some of the survivors

4. Aubergines

I grew these from seed so I am a happy bunny to finally be harvesting aubergines!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Tomato Challenges

These are meant to be cherry plum tomatoes. I’ve grown them before but the plum shape is absent along with the taste. Blight is also beginning to develop so their days are numbered.

Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry Tomatoes

6. Growing Salad Crops in Containers

Maybe my greatest success is growing lettuce. I cover the container with open plastic crates to ward off the blackbirds… little devils like to dig for worms.

Growing Lettuce in Containers
Growing cucumbers in containers and pots yield several cucumbers per plant. This one found its way up the bougainvillaea
Cucumbers growing in containers
Cucumbers growing in containers

 

Cucumbers growing in a pot
Cucumbers growing in a pot

My next batch of tomatoes I’m growing in a pot on the front terrace. So far so good!

cherry tomatoes growing in pot
cherry tomatoes growing in a pot

Well, folks. That’s all for my Six this Saturday.

Related Posts: Piglet’s Saturday Gardening Adventures

 

 

25 thoughts on “SOS: Piglet’s Plot – Fruit and Vegetables in July

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  1. […. when we shower we collect the water in a bucket] – I’ve found a kindred spirit in your blog! We only started collecting water from the shower when this drought began. Had no idea that water accumulated (while waiting for it to warm up) would fill half of a 5-gallon bucket. I also save rinse water in the kitchen sink, water from the dehumidifiers, and of course whenever it rains, there I am positioning my 5-gallon buckets in strategic locations. At least our water bill should be much lower this year…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have seen those rain chains but the problem is that we live in a 2-story apartment building and the downpipe leads into underground drainage. Our idea is to install a diverter on the downpipe (located next to our ground-floor home) and find a suitable rain barrel that’ll fit into a small space.

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  2. Good to hear from you again. Welcome back. Despite all the challenges you’ve had you look like you’re doing well. Your carrots look great (I can almost smell them) – I’ve never had any luck growing them for some reason. Fingers are crossed for the new batch of tomato plants and that conditions improve over there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, thanks for stopping by. The carrots would not win any prizes for looks … but taste … hmmm. The
      tomatoes, I will continue to harvest for a couple of weeks then discard. After years of challenges I’ve learnt when to quit flogging the dead horse.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, for stopping by, Rebecca 🙂 Good to be back blogging and catching up on all my blogging buddies. Fingers crossed that the sustained heat does not have an adverse effect on the plants. I’ve already lost a couple.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Our simmer of hell was nearly three years ago – my mind still remembers the heat and six months of bushfire smoke. Lost over half my garden and the enthusiasm of growing vegetables has yet to return. Spring planting is two months away . . . Looking at how bravely you have refused to give up I have ticked myself off and hope to spring back . . . !!! You have done amazingly well !! We in Australia tend to be smarty-pants when Europeans cry ‘hot’ at high 20s – well, you ARE hot – truly bestest . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Welcome back to the SOS Piglet! I think I would abandon all hope in that heat and live in the swimming pool. I have no idea how you get your lettuce so good, whenever I try sowing seeds it always bolts straight away!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I am gradually working my way through the SoS blogs. Re lettuce, I don’t tend to plant seeds I buy lettuce plugs (established seedlings) from the local market. I experienced the same problem growing lettuce from seed

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  5. Keep conserving because maybe your positive habits might rub off on those who seemingly either don’t care or are burying their heads…..I fear the latter is more likely. Having spent many years on the Algarve I am hearing from friends there who are suffering with extreme prolonged heat and drought. At the moment I am in the UK…with 40 c forecast for Monday and Tuesday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, the heat is getting to us now … especially for those of us with no aircon. I’ll keep plodding along saving water because someone once gave me a lecture when I was washing paintbrushes under running water at my local art class.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Welcome back! Sorry to hear you are suffering with the heat and drought, we are yet to have a water shortage (that I have heard of) but it is bound to come. Saying that I am very impressed by your butternut squash, there is nothing like a freebie, especially if it brought itself to the party. The carrots look lush. Stay cool. x

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  7. I’m delighted to hear from you again and I see that your garden is still going strong. You still have to water enough to get beautiful vegetables like that and unfortunately this year the heat wave hits us all… Good luck with the 40°C , expected for us too on Tuesday

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    1. Hi Granny, not sure what Day Zero is but it sounds critical. We are not quite at that point yet but from what I understand we are going to be up the creek without a paddle if we don’t get substantial rainfall this year. Reservoirs are at an all time low. To add the problem several Advocado farms have sprung up and they use masses of water.

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