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The fruit and vegetable garden

July 2012

 

Vegetables

 

Previously in The Fruit & Vegetable Garden...

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

 


Fruit & Veg Garden Index

 
SaladAlthough this year has been slow and difficult with much rain and low temperatures, the harvest has begun in earnest now with all manner of vegetables becoming ready for the table.

Commence picking broad beans when they are just 2 to 3 inches long and they can be cooked and eaten whole. Peas and mange tout need to be picked frequently when young, which will encourage the plants to produce more flowers and thereby prolong the picking season.

We have been eating spinach for a couple of weeks now, we just cut the leaves off with scissors and the plants continue to produce new leaves throughout the summer.

Our lettuce and spring cabbage are cut off with a sharp knife, and the stalk is left in the ground which can sometimes produce another plant from the same root.

Radishes and carrots can still be sown, but be sure to water well if the weather is dry (some hope!)

Early potatoes are ready to be lifted this month and should be stored in paper or hessian sacks in a cool, dry place.

The first of the runner beans can usually be picked towards the end of the month, again pick frequently when small to prolong the season and ensure they are kept well watered.

Our tomatoes now have five trusses set and we will take out the growing tip when we get to six, at which time we will commence feeding the plants with a liquid fertilizer twice a week. Our outdoor bush cherry tomatoes need no attention other than consistent watering and feeding once the fruits start to form.

In between enjoying the fruits of your labours, continue hoeing to keep the weeds under control and be continually vigilant for pests, which can reduce your crop (and your morale) demonstrably!

Fruit

StrawberriesThe strawberries are now ripening faster than we can eat them (well nearly). I have cut the runners off and discarded them this year, as the plants are only one year old and will produce a full crop again next year. If your plants are three years old, however, it is wise to plant some runners into 3” pots and stake them until they root, and they will then be ready to plant out in the strawberry bed to replace your older plants this autumn.

The gooseberry bushes have produced a good crop, most of which has already be turned into jam, but with a few set aside for a pie later this week! The bushes themselves have been pruned back to three leaves on all the new side shoots and any old wood has been cut out from the centre of the bushes to allow for good ventilation, which protects against mildew.

We are continuing to tie in the new canes on the blackberry and the loganberry plants, which will produce fruit next year. They are planted against a freestanding trellis to allow for very easy picking from both sides; when the old canes have fruited this year they will be cut down to ground level and composted.

The blueberries and blackcurrants are looking good this year and will be harvested towards the end of July, but the perennial problem of birds enjoying the fruit is always there. We have managed to make a netting cage over the blueberries, but the blackcurrants will have to manage with reflective tapes and CDs strung on canes, which can be quite effective.

Because of the cold weather the jury is still out on whether our raspberries will produce enough fruit for a dessert! Oh well, maybe next year…..


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