June 2010 Newsletter

You can really get on  with sowing your vegetable crops outside

Outdoor tomatoes can be planted out now either in pots, growbags or directly into the soil. Cordon tomatoes should be tied in to canes or strings for support and side shoots pinched out from the leaf axils, if left on the plant they will use energy that should be directed to the developing fruit (these shoots are easily rooted to make more plants). Take out the growing tip of the plants when four flower trusses have formed, this will give more energy to the developing fruit. Keeping to a good watering and feeding regime for your tomato plants is crucial. Use a liquid feed high in potassium to improve fruit quality especially if they are in a grow bag which contains few nutrients. Erratic watering and lack of nutrients can lead to blossom end rot.

Sow sweetcorn in pots  in the greenhouse

Keep cropping lettuce, radish, spring onions, spring cabbage and asparagus spears. Small, repeat sowings of salad crops every couple of weeks will ensure a good supply all summer. It’s amazing how much you can get from a two or three foot row of a cut and come again salad crops such as Baby Leaf Salad or Spicy Greens Mix you can begin to crop when the leaves are only three inches tall and they grow equally well in a container. Quick growing crops such as lettuce and radish can be sown as a ‘catch crop’ between sweetcorn or brassica plants. They will be ready to harvest well before they are overshadowed by their larger neighbours and will make full use of all available space. If you like watercress it is so easy to grow in a large pot, Watercress Aqua germinates quickly and all you need to do is keep the compost moist by standing the pot in a saucer of water, top the saucer up daily and just watch your watercress grow!

Planting up of hanging baskets and containers can  begin in earnest now

If the weather is hot and dry do not neglect watering all young veg plants. One good soaking to the roots every week is preferable to a little splash here and there - this will only promote surface roots, which dry out much quicker. A good deep soak occasionally will encourage the roots to go deeper to find water, and will give them a much better chance of survival during periods of drought. Keep monitoring the slug population - they can decimate a crop overnight! Biological controls are very effective, Nemaslug consists of millions of tiny nematodes – microscopic worms which kill slugs above and below ground for up to 6 weeks. You just water the nematodes in which will then begin to protect your plants within days. Another benefit of Nemaslug is that they are completely harmless to birds, animals and children. Nemasys has the same effect on the larvae of Vine Weevil – the scourge of the container gardener! Drench the compost with the nematode solution and you will have protection until autumn. An autumn drench will destroy all larvae that hatched during summer.

Bedding  plants

If you have young plants growing in your greenhouse make sure there is plenty of ventilation and provide shade if necessary so the young growth doesn’t get scorched. Try to keep pests away from your greenhouse plants, if you prefer not to spray Yellow Sticky Traps are very useful for trapping flying insects in greenhouses, whitefly in particular are drawn to the bright yellow colour. S&B Invigorator is an environmentally friendly growth stimulant and pesticide for use on all edible and ornamental crops. It is a stimulating foliar feed promoting healthy growth and also controls whitefly, greenfly, blackfly, mealybugs and spider mite. Being non hazardous - crops can be picked immediately after spraying and it can also control mildew..

Chrysanthemum young  plants can be planted out

Plant out indoor sown winter brassicas, artichokes and sweetcorn as soon as they have a strong enough root system. Plant sweetcorn in a block rather than in rows to encourage better pollination. Keep hoeing between your plants to keep on top of the weeds which will compete with your veg for water and nutrients – hoeing little and often will keep on top of most weeds and prevent them from setting seed.

The soil is warm enough to sow French and runner beans directly into the soil if you didn’t start them off earlier indoors, they will crop a bit later but should still give a good harvest. Sow beetroot, maincrop carrots, Florence fennel, rocket, spring onions, salad leaves and kohl rabi. June is the perfect time to grow oriental veg such as Pak Choi, Chinese cabbage, Mustards and Chinese Broccoli Kailaan, they will just romp away in the warm soil, but do keep them all well watered if the weather is dry.

Gardening Tips
Avoid Carrot Root Fly when thinning your carrots

Cover soft fruit with netting to avoid competing with birds for your strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, once they find them to their liking they will keep returning to grab your fruit before you get the chance! Lay straw or protective mats under strawberry plants to keep ripening fruit clean and free from disease. Tie in the young stems of raspberries, blackberries and hybrid berries to prevent wind damage and make the fruit easier to pick later on. Gooseberry bushes will benefit from thinning the fruit if branches are carrying an excess, you can use the small fruits in pies, leaving the rest to mature on the bush.

If you haven’t already sown your runner beans

Thin out the young fruits on peach and nectarine trees, leaving only one fruit every 4-6 inches. This will ensure better and larger fruit with more flavour. Leave the thinning of apple trees until after the ‘June drop’, which is a naturally occurring process in which some of the smallest fruit will drop to leave the strongest to develop. If the tree still has too much fruit after this, thin to one or two fruits every 4-6 inches.

If wall trained apple and pear trees are becoming too vigorous shorten the leaders and side-shoots to divert more energy into the production of fruit rather than lots of weaker stems. Keep all wall trained fruit trees well watered, they can easily miss out on the heaviest rain if they are in a sheltered position. Help them to retain water by providing a thick mulch of compost around the tree. Rake in a handful of Organic Extra before applying your mulch to boost good growth.

Keep earthing up your potatoes as they grow

Attract beneficial insects and other predators to your garden by growing plants rich in nectar and pollen. Bumblebee Margin Mix contains Phacelia, Clover and Borage which are a positive magnet for all sorts of beneficial insects, some, like the bees will pollinate your beans and tomatoes etc and some will devour the aphids, whitefly and thrips which will be waiting until your back is turned to sneak up and feast upon your tender produce. Grow some in your border or on the edge of your vegetable patch.

It is easy to cover brassicas, lettuces and other particularly susceptible varieties with fine insect netting. This light-weight netting will protect vulnerable crops from a whole host of nasties including aphids, carrot root fly, cabbage white butterfly, cutworm, birds and rabbits. It is light enough to lie directly on to the crop but better protection is offered if it is placed over a support. A simple system is to use canes pushed into the ground with an inverted plastic pot over the top of the cane to support the net, pegging the sides into the soil to form a cage. The mesh is re-usable and will last for years.

If you prefer not to cover your crops Biological Controls may be the best approach for you. Aphid Control with Lacewing Larvae is a safe and natural way to help rid your plants of aphids. The larvae will also snack on thrips, red spider mite and mealy bugs and are totally harmless to other wildlife, humans and pets.

Vine Weevil is a beetle that seriously damages a wide  range of plants

Are you constantly exasperated by pigeons and rabbits snacking on all your young plants? Have you tried just about everything you can think of to deter them but still they manage to chomp away on your borders and vegetable patch? We have found the perfect antidote to your problem Grazers has proved very successful with farmers and growers and has only recently been offered in sizes suitable for the home gardener. Grazers makes the plants very unpalatable to pigeons, rabbits, geese and deer, it must be applied to the plant foliage where it is absorbed systemically through the leaf of the growing plant.

Because it is nutrient based, it can be sprayed safely on ornamental, shrubs, bedding, fruit or vegetable and lawns. It will in fact help repair any damage already caused. It is odourless to the human nose, and safe for pets. In most cases a single treatment is effective but 2 or 3 applications will allow Grazers to build up within the plant. Being trace element based is beneficial to the plant and can be sprayed safely even on young plants at the earliest growth stage.