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The fruit and vegetable garden

June 2011

Vegetables

  
tomatoesThis can be a dry month so keep an eye on the need to water. If the soil appears dry then check under the surface either by scraping some soil away with a trowel or pushing your finger in. If it comes up dry, you need to water. Always water when required and try to use collected rainwater or grey water when you can. Keep working with the hoe as well this month and try not to let the weeds flower.

You should be continuing to plant out brassicas now, broccoli and calabrese, brussels sprouts and summer cabbage. Beans started in pots, both runner and French, should also be planted out into their final positions, as should leeks. Ideally they want to be about pencil thickness.

Previously in The Fruit & Vegetable Garden...

May 2011

April 2011


Index
Try not to follow the old guidance to trim the leaves and roots when transplanting leeks, it has been proven to be of no benefit and is actually counter-productive. Celery can go out now as well.

Outdoor tomatoes can go to their final position in mid to late June . When moving plants from greenhouse to outdoors it is a good idea to condition them to the move, by hardening them off outside on warm days but still protecting at night, should temperatures be forecast to be low.

In the greenhouse keep pinching off the side shoots from your tomatoes and keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, whitefly and red spider mite. If you are subject to attack by these pests it is worth checking out biological controls as these are perfectly safe to use and, used correctly, more effective than traditional chemical controls. Many of the chemical controls of the past are no longer available anyway so the organic alternatives are now the mainstream choice.

On the subject of pests, the infantry brigades of slugs and snails are attacking at ground level so take action to keep them down and don't ignore the air force of birds that are dropping from the skies to eat your crops, so don't forget the netting. The butterflies are about now as well, beautiful as they are, check the undersides of your brassica leaves for the yellow or white eggs that will hatch into caterpillars and devastate the plant. You can squash them, wipe or wash them off easily at this stage.

The beetroot sown in May can be left to swell and store with the root vegetables, whilst the earlier sowings are taken at golf ball size to go in salads. The swedes go in at this time as do the turnips but remember swedes are brassicas, and can be vulnerable to club root. Extra lime in the soil and start off in fresh multi-purpose compost. Varieties such as Marian show resistance to club root.

Your squash, pumpkins, courgettes and marrows should go out this month. Take the opportunity to prepare for planting at the start of the month by digging in well rotted manure or compost. The outdoor cucumbers can be started directly or in a pot to go out late this month. The flavour of the outdoor varieties seems more pronounced than the greenhouse types, but they do like a sheltered warm spot if possible.

If your sweetcorn are not sown yet then you need to get going with them. The longer the season the better with sweetcorn. Even if the weather is fine, leave them under a cloche if possible until the leaves are pushing the edge, as the extra heat will help.
Virtually all crops can still be directly sown now, and if frost has caught you by surprise by killing your first sowings, it is not too late for a second try.

Fruit

strawberriesEnsure fruiting plants have sufficient water whilst the fruit is swelling and sprinkle some general slow release fertiliser around the base of the plants to help them feed. Thin out apples and plums if the crop looks excessive after the “ June Drop”. This is when nature does the initial thinning for you by shedding some of the set fruit and is not a sign of a problem with the plants.

Place straw around strawberry plants to keep the forming fruits clean and start to pot up runners if new plants are required for next year. I like to replace the plants every three years or so and I try to plant them out into their final positions in the autumn to give them a better start the following spring. Continue to tie in new raspberry canes to straining wires to stop the wind from breaking them. Gooseberries are often ready towards the end of June, and continue to crop rhubarb, which will freeze well if you have a glut.


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