These hot months are always a battle with enough water and making sure you get to the crops before the bugs do by keeping your plants healthy and well-watered.
Water, water and keep on watering – water deep and long every other day rather than a little every day. Water in the evening so less water will be lost to evaporation, and keep feeding, use seaweed based liquid fertiliser as it can also help plants to resist fungal disease, apply with a watering can.
Start your winter plantings of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower but watch for the white butterfly laying its eggs, use Derris dust or white pepper and remember to dust under the leaves.
Harvest time is upon us now and if you are new to the gardening game here are a few tips.
Corn- is at its sweetest when it is still at its milky stage – the corn silk will dry away and the cob will be full if you are not sure pull the leaves back a little and push with your fingernail. Corn doesn’t improve by leaving it to long the cobs will just go doughy.
Peas- Getting these to the table is always the problem; they are so tasty straight from the bush. But best picked slightly on the early side so the pods are full but not tight and bursting out.
Beans –Rule of thumb is to pick around at around 10 cm (4”). Picking them younger will often apply better to runner beans that can get a little stringy if left to long.
Cucumbers- This does depend a little on the variety that you have chosen to grow. Apple cucumbers are picked when they are about the size of a tennis ball. Long green types around 15-20cm long.
Onions and Garlic – These are ready to be harvested when the tops are dry and flowers have fallen over. When you have pulled the bulbs leave them out in the sun to dry before storing. Twist of the tops and rub away the old roots, then store in a wire basket or mesh bag.
Peppers – Colour and size will be your guide, harvest any touching the ground as they will be susceptible to rot. Also remove fruit that is touching each other to prevent overcrowding remove the smaller ones and let the other grow to full size. It will also keep a good air flow around the plant.
Pumpkin- Be patient, pumpkins picked before they are mature soon don’t store as well. Wait until the vine dies away and the stem are shrunken and dried up, leave the stem on the pumpkin when you pick. Before you store pumpkins wash in a mild solution of soapy water with a cup of household bleach, dry them off well, this solution will inhibit any bacteria or mould growth, store them in the garage where it is dry and out of the sun.
Beetroot – These should be harvested when they have reached a moderate size, some people prefer them the size of golf ball to use fresh grated in salads. If you want to keep some for winter then let them grow a little larger around the size of a small fist, remove the foliage and store.
Potatoes –Be careful when digging up any potatoes they can be damaged very easily. Early potatoes are ready to harvest 3 months after planting or when the flowers are fully open and the lower leaves are staring to go yellow. Main or late cropping potatoes differ and with this crop you wait until the foliage dies away. Dig deep when harvesting so as to come up under the crop and reducing damage. Test the storability of your potatoes before you dig them all up, by burrowing in to the side of one mound. Grab a few then rub your thumb over the skin, if it rubs away to easy they will not store well so use them straight away. Leave the rest of the crop in the ground and dig up as necessary.
Keep an eye on your grapes mildews will be prevalent now due to the humid weather. Spray when necessary; remove any leaves covering the fruit so they are exposed to the sun.
Your flower and rose bed will benefit from some mulching during this hot weather, always water first before applying and keep the mulch away from trucks as it will encourage collar rot.
Give your roses a summer prune – just a tidy really, prune away any old flowers, branches showing signs of dieback and dead branches.
Once your lilies have finished flowering cut back to 5cm and leave to continue die off ready for next year.