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The fruit and vegetable garden

July 2011

Vegetables 

green vegJuly is usually one of the driest months so a lot of time may be spent watering. You can reduce water loss and save yourself some time by preventing water loss.

Mulching with a layer of organic matter will help preserve moisture but may encourage slugs so you will need to take action against them. Another good method of preventing water loss is to hoe. This not only kills the weeds but breaks up the top of the soil stopping water from being drawn to the surface by capillary action and evaporating.

Keep on top of the weeds, it really is far easier to hoe them as small seedlings than as grown plants. Even if you cannot see any weeds, hoeing will actually be killing tiny seedlings you have not noticed and will be helping reduce moisture loss.

Previously in The Fruit & Vegetable Garden...

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011


Index
When you harvest your potatoes take care to remove all the tubers. Any left will not only sprout next year and become a weed, but will also be a reservoir for disease and potato blight spores. It's often worth forking over a few days after harvesting potatoes because more tubers always seem to miraculously appear! When you have harvested your potatoes you might like to consider sowing a green manure crop such as Mustard which is fast growing..

If they've not gone out yet, it's time to plant out your leeks. Just dib a hole about 150mm 6" deep and drop the leek into the hole. Water it in and the job's done. Don't follow old advice about trimming the tops and roots, it has no beneficial effect and is probably harmful. You don't need to fill the holes with soil, enough will wash in with watering and rain. The reason you plant in a hole is to blanch the stem.

It's also the month to plant out broccoli and calabrese, cabbages and cauliflowers and kale.

Keep your tomato sideshoots in check, you want  tomatoes not masses of foliage. Ensure they are watered regularly, drying out prevents the plant from taking up sufficient calcium and the deficit causes blossom end rot, and don't forget to feed your tomatoes as well; we demand a lot from them and need to keep them well fed. It's also a good idea to give your maincrop potatoes a feed. A major cause of poor crops with potatoes is poor nutrition. They are a very greedy plant and a boost now will pay dividends in tubers. A feed balanced as for tomatoes is ideal.

Keep your onions well weeded and don't forget to feed them to get the best possible crop.

Ensure good ventilation in the greenhouse. It can get incredibly hot inside with strong sun which can scorch your plants. You should also consider shading the house either with blinds or films or with a shading wash during the hottest months.

Fruit

loganberriesMany berry fruits should now be ready to harvest. Net over berries if possible and pick them immediately when ripe, to prevent the birds from having the lion’s share.(We have strung some old CDs onto string which catches the sunlight and the movement of them keeps the birds off.)  Swelling fruit requires a lot of water so ensure they have enough and continue to check for insect damage. Any damaged fruit should always be removed and destroyed to reduce the chance of contaminating the rest.

Summer-prune gooseberries, redcurrants, and whitecurrants Cut back to five leaves all this year’s new side shoots, except any you might want to develop into new branches next year. Removing foliage lets in light and air, helping any remaining fruit to ripen and reducing the risk of disease.Lightly prune blackcurrants just before or just after picking the fruit and prune again in winter.

As soon as you’ve finished picking summer raspberries, cut all the canes that have borne fruit down to the ground. Tie in this year’s new, green canes in their place. Continue to tie in new canes of blackberries and loganberries, those that are growing up this year without bearing fruit. In the autumn, when harvesting is finished, you’ll remove the old canes, ready for the new ones to take their place next year.

If your apple, pear and plum trees look overcrowded, even after last month’s “June drop”, thin them out still further in order to allow each fruit to grow to a reasonable size. Summer prune cherries and plum trees once you’ve harvested the fruit. Both are pruned in summer not winter.

Once your summer-fruiting strawberries have finished, you can tidy up old foliage, remove straw, and either cut off and discard any runners or use them to make new plants.

  
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