Hopefully your vegetables have been growing well through July and into August. It hasn't been very hot so if you have watered your veg you should have had success growing and eating them!
Time to pick your sweetcorn by the middle of August. They are ripe when the tassels on the ends of the corn turn brown. Peel one back and pierce the corn with your nail and if a milky sap oozes out the cobs are ready to eat. Don't leave them on the stem because the corn starts to go past its best quickly! Corn freezes really well. Take off all greenery so you are left with the cob. Have a bowl of iced water at hand and boil the cobs for 4 minutes. Immediately put into iced water for the same time as they were boiled (4 mins). Once cooled completely put into a freezer bag and freeze. If you have a gadget for sucking the air out and vacpacking brill. If not, try using zip lock bags and putting a straw in. Seal the bag up to the straw and then suck the air out through the straw! Quickly seal bag the rest of the way.
Pick tomatoes as they ripen. On a warm summers day "Toms" taste brilliant. You will be able to eat your toms as they ripen up to October. Keep feeding every 2 weeks now with tomato fertiliser (earlier in the year it was every week as the fruits developed). A little water every day keeps them happy.
You can be eating your carrots now, naturally thinning out so some grow on into the winter. The same with parsnips. You can in fact sow your last sequence of carrots for harvesting in November/December - fabulous!
Peppers and chillies will be ripening now and changing colour from the green they have been to orange, yellow and reds. Keep watering and feeding and you should have a great crop. If you have been sowing lettuce, rocket, radishes and spring onions every few weeks you will have fresh salads to go with your toms and peppers.
Onions - you can start to dig up your onions either for eating or preparing for the show. Keep them in a dry place for a week or two. If preparing for the show check out our Facebook page for how to tie them.
So what's left? Potatoes are ready to dig up (first earlies July, 2nd earlies August, main crop September). You can keep them if you don't eat them. First separate those that have holes in them from slugs or other pests and eat them first. The spuds that is, not the slugs! Put the rest in a cool place and they will last for months.
So what can we sow now for late crops? Lettuce, spring onions, radish, spring cabbage, carrots, swedes, winter cabbages and winter cauliflowers. Keep soil moist and don't forget to put fertiliser back in the soil if you are growing in the same patch all the time.
Look out for pests - aphids and slugs - and remember...
"Too wet, they drown. Too dry, they die!"
GROW, WATER, SOW, FEED Following Mays update here are some tips for June & July:-
The ‘salad’ seeds - lettuce, radish, spring onions, basil, peas/mange tout will all be ready for eating (if you haven’t already). Eat them before they go woody or bolt. (this is where the plant shoots up & goes to flower - too late to eat by then unless you want to keep the seeds). With mange tout the more you pick, the more flowers & then the more peas you will grow :)
Keep sowing salad little & often. Radishes are ready in 4 weeks, lettuce in 4 to 6 weeks, spring onions in 10 weeks.
Hopefully if you sowed tomatoes indoors in April you have planted into bigger pots & they are in flower with fruits showing.
Keep watering them in hot weather EVERY day if they are under cover & feed them with a tomato feed every 7 days (mix as per instructions). Tomatoes should ripen from mid July onwards. If you want to put them outdoors, don’t do so until mid June! A warm south facing wall, protected from wind is ideal. Use a long cane to tie them to and pinch out the side shoots (growth between leaf & stem) -google it for pictures.
Please water them or they will die!
Sweetcorn can go outside from June - if you sowed them in April or May they should be 30 to 40 cms tall now. Plant outside in a border- keep them 12-16”apart in a block & and as they grow (up to 4 - 5 feet) you will see a long stem at the top which is the male part of the corn. One or two cobs will be developing lower down. the wind blows the seeds from the top onto the cobs/tassles below and hey presto nature does the rest. From August they should be ready YUM!
Chillies & peppers sown 6-8 weeks ago will be growing. Pot on into bigger pots using garden compost/soil or bought multi purpose compost if you have it. Water a little every day & feed with ‘tomato feed’ every 7-14 days. Flowers & fruits will be coming on from June. TIP- put a 2-3 foot cane in to support the stem for when it is heavy with fruit. Warning - watch out for aphids etc on chillies & peppers & spray with a‘bug’ spray or soapy water mix (google it :) )
Now then..weeds, weeds bloomin’ weeds - they grow everywhere - pull them up or hoe - pain in the wotsit I know but they compete with your salad & veg for the goodness in the soil so they’ve gotta go!
SOW NOW (JUNE)
Runner beans, dwarf french beans, squashes (my favourite :) ), courgettes, marrows, lettuces, radish, carrots, herbs, winter cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spring onions, salad leaves, cucumbers, melons (indoors), sweetcorn, beetroot, swede, turnips. That will keep you busy! Choose your favourite & you will look after them - remember - treat them well, too wet & they drown, too dry and they die.
Cucumbers, melons, chillies, peppers, tomatoes that you have in pots inside (or outside) will have their roots exposed where you keep watering from a can, so ‘earth up’ by putting more compost around the base every few weeks. Cucumbers & tomatoes send new roots once you do this - which makes for a healthy plant & more fruit -hurrah! So cover them up and watch for aphids/bugs & keep moist.
If your plant drops or goes yellow something is wrong & you need to think it through!
“Sow Baby Sow” - Salads & Vegetables
Whether you have a greenhouse, a garden, a big pot or a window sill, now is the time to sow. More light and more sun means everything is growing - including weeds - GRRR!
These little updates will be of no use to the experienced grower but for those with limited experience maybe they will help - especially if you are youngsters from the local schools who will be joining the Village Show this year...Hurrah!!
So what do you need....seeds (don’t buy plug plants because that is cheating!), compost, small pots or root trainers (google them), water and warmth! Easy Peasy.
Choose your favourite salads or veg. Apart from watching the seeds and then the plants grow, the best thing is eating what you have grown!! Really, it tastes better - honest:)
So now the seeds are chosen there are two outcomes - produce that grows quickly and those that take ages...here is the list:-
Can be eaten within 10 weeks of planting/sowing:-
Radishes, lettuce, rocket, basil, coriander, mint, early potatoes, small beetroot, pea shoots,mange tout, early french beans, early runner beans.
Can be eaten 10-16 weeks of sowing:-
Potatoes, all green beans & young peas, broccoli, greens, cauliflowers, cabbages, cucumbers, spring onions, young swedes, beetroot, baby pumpkins, peppers, young carrots.
Can be eaten between 16-24 weeks of sowing:-
Peppers, chillies, aubergines, leeks, onions, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, melons, watermelons, fennel, bigger cabbages, all types of squash & pumpkins, brussel sprouts, sweetcorn.
So what to do now in May......Choose 3 or 4 things you want to grow. Lets choose tomatoes, sweetcorn, chillies & peppers. Beg or buy seeds, compost, pots, trays. DO IT NOW!!
You can use old yoghurt pots or mums old baking tray :) but they must have drainage holes in the bottom. Fill with seed compost ( I suggest you buy a bag!) - make sure you break up any lumps - a nice fine soil is best. Wet the soil with TAP water, place seed in pot (Sweetcorn seed 1/2” down - the rest on top of the soil) and cover with a little more soil. Keep moist every day. Don’t drown or saturate soil - the seeds will rot otherwise. Keep in the warm, on a window sill is best if you don’t have a greenhouse. DO NOT PLACE OUTSIDE! (unless salad as below). You can put 2 or 3 seeds per pot and prick out excess later.
Assume 50% of the seeds will germinate. Treat them like a human being in the first couple of weeks - too wet they drown, too dry they die, too cold they hate - just right they grow! So 16 to 22 degrees centigrade and your seeds will come up! Observe every day & water regularly.
The salads can go straight into a big pot or a border outside now. Prepare soil by weeding & digging over a patch - or a big pot full of multipurpose compost. Wet soil, sow seeds, a little covering of fine compost. Keep moist and they will be up and showing within 2 weeks. Rocket, lettuces and radishes will grow quickly. If you sow every 3 weeks you will have salad all summer & autumn :)
Take notes, take photos - google for stuff you are unsure of and grow, grow, grow!
More tips in 3 weeks!
I will add my photos then!