I usually rely on the first week of July being the temperature high spot of the summer. But today you find me sitting in the rooftop beach hut, like Noah.
It was a joke when we named the hut High Tide, back in 1997. Now, as I'm watching evil clouds gathering around the Telecom Tower, I regret the irony. It feels as if it might just rain for ever and the Thames high tide reaching Great Titchfield Street doesn't seem so far fetched any more.
The general feeling of doom is heightened, as I write this, by a church bell tolling just one sonorous note over and over again and a mysterious black helicopter circling overhead. (I'm guessing that the chopper is part of our heightened Olympic security.)
However, in spite of the foul weather, things are still coming to some sort of fruition in the rooftop veg plot.
On the bright side, just take a look at the stupendous tomatoes which are ripening nicely in the growhouse. The oil filled roof vent has done stirling work, closing down when the temperature dips for a rainstorm and then opening right up again, as the sun appears from behind a cloud and temperatures soar. I took the shading away ages ago. Those tommies need every ray of sun that's arriving on them.
Today I clipped off a few more tomato leaves and found a few more side-shoots, which seem to grow out as soon as my back is turned. Some of these shoots I've re-planted in odd spots in the garden or beneath the mother plant. I'm hoping that they will provide me with a late crop of tomatoes, once the main crop has passed. There is going to be a glut of tomatoes, but I never mind that too much. Anything surplus to requirements goes into an astonishingly simple bottling process. I make jam jars full of tomatoes preserved in oil, which I shall use as a quick relish for fresh pasta over the winter.
What is woerying at the moment is the fact that I'm not getting the pollination I need up here. Earlier in the year we were awash with bumble bees, hover flies and other furry friends. But the cold weather has chased them away. I had a fantastic showing of broad bean flowers, but only about 25% have converted into pods. I'm now watching the same thing happen on the radishes I'm nurturing for pods. But despite loads of pretty flowers I've had just one pod mature so far (and that's already been eaten). What makes it worse is that my posh counterpart NY rooftop veg blogger in Battery Park has chosen this week to wax lyrical about radish pods. (www.batteryrooftopgarden.org)
Flowers are doing well, I've got some lovely nasturtiums, sweet peas and runner bean flowers. I even saw a bee pollinating the runner beans the other day, but are there any tell-tail swellings yet? No!
But this humid weather seems good for seeds. I've got rocket, celeriac and lettuce on the go, cabbages and carrots are finally filling out and the potatoes are doing well. I harvested my first four early rockets today.
I keep thinking of the ying and yang of the weather and gardening. If one thing does badly, something else will do well in compensation. And if summer is a soak, surely autumn will be fine?