Do you remember spring when everything we planted was bound to flourish? Sadly things don’t always work out that way. As gardeners, we need to be realists as well as optimists, revel in our triumphs and take disaster on the chin. Sometimes it’s our fault, but it could always be the weather.

The time we sow and plant is obviously critical, but the weather gods can play havoc with our timing and how quickly our plants grow. Or, of course, give us a helping hand.

Patterns of temperature, sunshine, wind and rain are key and location plays a vital role. I recently bemoaned my blackcurrant crop on twitter only to find a friend posting a brimming bowl of his fruit, with more to follow. Ah weel…

So what’s happened this year so far? Everywhere is different and personal, so let me tell my tale. My examples may be different to yours, but you’ll probably have some similar ones.

Planting times can easily fail because of unusual weather patterns. Last year was perfect for brassicas, mine sped ahead, reaching maturity well ahead of schedule. So this year I delayed sowing by 10-14 days only to find the erratic spring has slowed everything down and I’m anxiously measuring each millimetre of growth, hoping they’ll be big enough by the end of September.

With tatties, on the other hand, I was far too gung-ho. Relying too heavily on the milder weather we’ve come to expect, I’ve been planting my frost-sensitive potatoes much earlier. But with this year’s late frosts, my first batch was horribly frizzled.

The tubers recovered and we got a later harvest, but frost devastated much of the fruit crop. As well as a much smaller currant crop, we can expect very little from the apple trees this year.

The temperature sank below 5C during 30 nights in April and early May, damaging developing apple buds and fell below zero on 6 occasions at a critical blossom stage. As a result, only a few fruits in sheltered parts of the trees have formed. So, alas, we’ll have no fruit to store and the apple press will gather dust.

My cucumbers also showed their sensitivity to temperature. With steady warmth in the greenhouse, one grew steadily skywards, proffering a tidy supply of fruits. The polytunnel ones have fared less well. Although it can soar to 45C on a sunny day, the tunnel is usually one or two degrees colder than outdoors at night and temperatures were often below 10C, which cucumbers won’t tolerate. Only now are they growing well.

In the greenhouse daytime temperature soared and did horrible things to tomatoes close to freshly cleaned windows. Sparse leaves and tiny fruits resulted, clearly showing these tomatoes hate intense heat and they needed watering 3 or 4 times a day. At least they’ve recovered.

Rainfall is the other key driver. Although we’re not basking in a heatwave like last year, there’s been very little rain here till recently. My leaky hose in the kitchen garden has kept the soil good and moist, but perennial fruit has had to take its chances. The result? Smaller strawberries than usual, gooseberries half their normal size and globe artichokes on the stringy side.

And the benefits? Many fewer small deroceras slugs and little sign of moles as they’ve had to dig deeper for their worms. Even the weeds took a hit during the dry weather.

After the prolonged dry spell, the rain tap’s back on, weeds are flourishing and small slugs are on the slither. At least the soil’s moist enough for me to treat it with the biological slug control, Nemaslug. The nematodes should keep the emerging deroceras slugs at bay.

Plant of the week

Dahlia ‘Scura’. Growing to only 40cm this is perfect in pots. The small, single flowers are a vibrant red and bloom for months.