October 30, 2019
The focus for the November garden is protection. Cold weather has arrived, and tender plants need to be snug in the greenhouse with those too large to move being cloaked in protective fleece. Move containers to shelter against house walls and make sure that any staked plants are nice and secure against wind rock. Use fleece and cloches to protect veg plants such as chard and swede against frost and possible snow.
July 1, 2019
Welcome to our July Newsletter
Well, what happened to flaming June? Despite the past few days, it’s been a dreadful June for many of us although it did make a bit more effort towards the end. Not just wet but also chilly and our poor plants have been sitting with damp cold bottoms and no motivation to grow. The one positive being that we haven’t needed to spend much time watering. We can only hope for better things in July, so keep those fingers and toes tightly crossed.
July is when we (hopefully) get to eat the edibles that we’ve grown and to fill our vases with colourful blooms. True satisfaction and pleasure can be gained from a delicious meal of homegrown fruit and veg eaten outside in a well looked after garden with a vase of sweet smelling, freshly picked annuals adorning the table.
Jobs for July
- Give sweetcorn a gentle shake to help spread the pollen
- Remove duckweed from ponds and keep the water level topped up. It’s surprising how much water will evaporate during a sunny spell
- Tie in climbers and stake dahlias and other tall plants to prevent them flopping
- Maintain a consistent watering and feeding regime, remembering that different varieties of plants will have different needs and that plants growing in pots will need a little extra
- Keep up the fight against slugs, snails and other pests. Encourage birds and other wildlife into the garden and they’ll lend their support
- It can get very hot in the greenhouse, so leave the door and vents open and consider applying shading paint or similar. Damping down the floor with a hose will help to reduce the temperature and increase humidity
- Pick cucumbers as soon as they’ve reached the right size for the variety and are still nice and firm. A slice of cucumber in a G&T makes a lovely change to the traditional lemon
- Keep picking courgettes to encourage the plant to keep producing. Share with friends and neighbours until they beg you to stop!
- Carefully lift and then dry and store your garlic. If you fancy plaiting them, leave the stalks until they are dry but not brittle
- Sorry, but early this month you will need to stop harvesting rhubarb. Apply a layer of mulch or compost and leave the crowns to recover ready for next year
As you harvest your new potatoes, peas, garlic and beans you will be creating space for new crops. Seeds to sow in July include:
From Plot to Plate
Babies are apparently left under gooseberry bushes, so watch out for one when you go to pick your crop this month. Also remember to wear gloves, as they can be pretty spikey – the gooseberry plants, not the babies.
Low maintenance and long-lived, it is strange that gooseberries aren’t more popular. They are hardy, fairly disease resistant and will grow happily in any soil. And of course, the real joy is gained from the gorgeously sweet/sour fruits that you will be picking and eating this month. Providing that the blackbirds don’t get there first!
To keep your gooseberry plants happy, plant them in a sunny, well-drained spot. They will welcome a feed in spring and an application of mulch. Apart from that, they will just need a drink in dry weather, a tidy up in late July/early August and a prune when dormant.
Traditional gooseberry plants were fairly sprawling and space hungry, which may account for their lapse in popularity, but modern varieties can be trained as standards or cordons. These space-saving growing methods mean that gooseberry plants can have a place in most gardens.
Gooseberry fool, gooseberry crumble and gooseberry pie are oldies but goodies. However, gooseberries can also be enjoyed in many other ways. Focaccia bread studded with gooseberries prior to baking makes a wonderful sweetish partner to strong cheese. The sweet red desert varieties are lovely eaten raw, as you would grapes.
The flavours of elderflower and gooseberry work amazingly well together. So, when you are cooking with gooseberries, splash some of that fabulous homemade elderflower cordial in and it will make the dish even tastier.
Gooseberries work well with:
Lemon Blueberry Cream Yoghurt Cinnamon Ginger
Saffron Honey Mackerel Almonds Hazelnuts Elderflower
Now is a good time to apply some fresh compost to any pots containing tomato plants. This will add much-needed nutrients and encourage new roots. To get the most from your plants, do keep your watering consistent and feed weekly with high potash fertiliser. Keep removing side-shoots from cordon tomatoes. Most importantly, pick and enjoy!
It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
– Lewis Grizzard
Offer of the Month
F1 Summerlast: 3 x 2-litre potted plants for £15!
Or 1 x 2-litre potted plant for £7.99
A new blight-resistant tomato that everyone can grow!
- Perfectly sized for patios
- Crops throughout the summer and into autumn
- Produces a good crop of large cherry-sized fruit
- Sweet fruits – great to snack on or for salads
- Stay green trait, so their leaves won’t turn yellow
Buy your F1 Summerlast plants while stocks last!
Understandably, there is a great interest in bees and other insects right now, with huge concern about the drastic reduction in insect life. Who remembers having to regularly clear the car windscreen of splattered insects? An unpleasant task that is now rarely (if ever) required.
Whilst doing what we can to encourage and help insects in our gardens, let’s not forget the other wildlife. Birds, frogs, toads and hedgehogs are all the gardener’s friend, as is the much over-looked worm.
There are several thousand different kinds of worm but those we see most often in our gardens are segmented earthworms. The richer your soil is in organic matter, the more worms you will have and they will tunnel hard, mixing and improving the soil whilst munching on live and decaying vegetation and turning it into hummus.
- There are many different species of earthworms and they range in size from 10mm to 3m!
- Worms create their tunnels by taking some of the soil into their bodies, pushing through and then secreting that soil as worm casts on the surface
- To help them move easily through their soil tunnels, worms secrete a slime and this slime contains and releases useful nitrogen
- Being an underground creature, worms like the dark. And although they don’t have eyes, worms are sensitive to light – if they cannot escape it, bright light will paralyse them
- If their skin dries out, worms will die, so they prefer damp soil. However, if the soil becomes waterlogged worms will drown. This is why, when it rains heavily, they push up to the surface. This is also why birds peck and stamp at the soil surface, to simulate rain – the worms pop up and are promptly eaten!
- Worms’ constant tunnelling not only mixes the soil but also increases the amount of air and water in the soil, thus improving it
- Most earthworms in our gardens live for 2 to 4 years but, under controlled conditions, they can live as long as 8 years
- Earthworms exist on every continent apart from Antarctica
How About a Wormery?
If you are keen to compost your kitchen waste, how about investing in a wormery? They are environmentally friendly and a great way to produce your own fertiliser and liquid feed. For your wormery, you’ll need brandling or red worms (not earthworms). These little chaps are brilliant at quickly turning green matter into compost and so are perfect for a worm city.