August is here.....July was good for the garden with some much needed rain for everything growing outside. Potatoes, squash, sweet corn and onions all need rain to swell the fruits and so if the rain doesn't fall you have to put the sprinkler on. Your fruit trees need rainfall too especially if you have them in pots so don't forget to do it ( yes that’s an order).
ght then let's start in the greenhouse. Everything there grows in buckets filled with my compost, sand, multipurpose compost and growmore fertiliser. Everything is watered every day during hot weather and once a week with liquid tomato feed. We have already eaten ripe tomatoes, peppers, chillis, cucumbers and melons. This time of year it is important to be pinching out your toms after 6 or 7 trusses ; pruning back the tops of your peppers ( it took me years to do this - but you really will get a bigger crop of bigger fruits if you do ) ; snipping out the melon leaders after 6 leaves to encourage side shoots and training your cucumbers up bamboo canes and picking them when they are small.
By the way you can freeze chillis, peppers and toms straight from the plant to cook with later in the year.
In the garden I have dug up my shallots and am drying them off in the sun , cut the first squashes , eaten all the peas and cut them back to ground level. Leave the roots of peas in the ground - they are nitrogen rich and the next thing you grow in that space will love you for doing that !! I am picking my first carrots now and they are sooooo sweet, dug up my new potatoes and picking the French beans which really loved the rain recently. Keep picking everything when they are young rather than letting fruits go past their best - it is a mistake I still do and curse myself all the time when I know they have gone past their best.
Right then, stop admiring your growing efforts and get sowing...lettuce, salad leaves, radish, Chinese cabbage, salad onions for this year and start to think about September / October sowing for next year’s crops - onion sets, garlic, spring cabbage, spring greens, broad beans etc. I will talk about those in the next issues.
There is still plenty of time for lots of fresh salads ....and don't forget plenty of basil too. I plant them in the tomato buckets....they grow easily together as well as being divine on the plate. It is also a great time to take some cuttings of mint, thyme, rosemary and marjoram. Insert the short cuttings around the edge of a pot and keep them moist at all times - in a few weeks they will root and start to grow.
The last couple of things .....check the compost heap and keep adding garden waste , grass cuttings and shredded paper to it. If the contents are very dry they won't start to break down, so add some water and give everything a good mix-up to get the heap working again. Lastly watch out for the first signs of blight ( yes I've said the word...even typed it so I am bound to be hit by it now ) on potatoes and tomatoes. It usually starts in warm, humid conditions after a period of damp weather and will show up as brown spots on the foliage that if not picked off will spread quickly...and burn or bin it… Do not compost it.
So, water, pick, deadhead, sow and eat in August and have a fab holiday season.
Phew what a scorcher most of June was. Brilliant for growing provided you water and feed plants regularly BEFORE they need it. I know it's difficult with the busy lives we have but keeping the plants watered and fed gives better results. We have all done it...come home and seen a plant all wilted, feel guilty and quickly over water it. The next day it is looking better of course but you can only do that a number of times before your crop will be poor. So, water a lot in the heat, early morning or later in the evening especially if you are on a free draining soil or in a pot. The other alternative is to set up an irrigation system. I have them taking water from my water butts' for the greeenhouse and the hanging baskets. They are very reasonable these days and work from solar power. If anyone wants to see my set up just email me and will be glad to offer help
Dead head roses, and bedding plants all the time to encourage new growth. Peas, beans need picking to encourage more growth (and they taste so much better young) and peppers, melons and tomatoes all need pinching out to encourage more vigorous growth to fruits already developing. I pinch out the toms after 5 or 6 trusses and peppers when they seem to be getting bushy on top. The plant cannot support hundreds of peppers so don't be too greedy.....once you have 20 or so fruits be brutal and cut out others, for now anyway.
The other issue you must attend to is summer feeding of your plants. If in doubt any veg in a pot can have a liquid feed - tomorite or other tomatoe feed. I do mine every 2 weeks once the first fruits set. That is the cucumbers, toms, peppers, chillies, sweet potatoes and herbs. I also feed on a monthly basis from now to September lilies, hanging baskets, onions and shallots. A lot of people don't bother and always wonder why someone else's flowers or veg look more beautiful or larger or healthier (back to the wilted plant earlier)
So July we are harvesting salads, herbs , peas , carrots , first early spuds at the end of the month, beans , over wintered garlic, currents and soft fruits. Pay back time for the hard work earlier in the year. Our pea and mange tout crop this year is enormous so I hope it is for you all too. Keep sowing salads, keep watering and feeding, and don't be afraid to pinch out...it really does give a better crop in the end ( I couldn't bring myself to do it for Years…all those lovely buds prematurely cut down!)
Lastly check for pests and dispose of them in your own way (squishing aphids and black fly between your fingers is a favourite) and if anyone has a guaranteed way of moving moles on let me know as I am contemplating dynamite now - it won't make more of a mess than what has already been done.
Send in any questions or photos...what is your favourite plant / veg you like to grow? My favourite is sweetcorn which I sowed into 3 inch pots in May and planted out on the 13th June (see picture). It is the best eating experience from your garden you can
Have…. I’m drooling in anticipation….
Every month I will give a short update on what to be doing in your veggie patch. No matter how small a front or back garden, you can grow something edible in pots, tubs or beds. Don't worry about lettuce shortages because of the rain in Spain (tee hee) just sow your own.