Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary - August 2006

Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary - 31st August 2006


The endless, hot sunny days of July were soon washed away by the regular deluges of August, but although I was half-drowned most of the time, the plants in the Kitchen Garden absolutely loved it! Harvesting produce became almost an hourly task, and the slugs were having races round the saturated beds. Here’s a check on what’s been happening over the last month…

Sweet as a Potato!
It was with a feeling of excitement that I very carefully dug down iHarvestn the soil where the sweet potatoes had been growing for near enough 6 months. I really didn’t have a clue what to expect as I had never grown this crop before, not in the Kitchen Garden or in my past horticultural life – but I was pleasantly surprised! The young shoots, which at one stage just after delivery looked like they might not pull through, had enjoyed living in their long tom pot so much they had produced a labyrinth of bulbous pink tubers, perfect for the kitchen. How did I achieve this? The young plants were confined to the greenhouse until early summer when the weather picked , and then spent most of July basking in the sun – this, coupled with regular and copious watering, seems to have worked wonders!

No need to rub a magic lamp and wish for aubergines this year, as I’ve managed to persuade the plants to produce some wonderful long purple fruits – incidentally the name of the variety! I think the key to this year’s success was giving the young plants the care and encouragement they needed to grow on and flourish, as, acutely aware of last year’s failure, I was determined to avoid a repeat. A quick crop overview goes something like this;

Seeds sown early February in a propagator then seedlings covered with fleece and kept moist potted up and growing tips removed when 8cm tall and regularly after to produce a bushy plant plants placed outside by greenhouse wall in the warmest position to grow on, flower and produce fruit.

It’s interesting to note that the plants outside the greenhouse have produced more fruit than those inside – I’m still working on why that is!

Support Required!
You may recall that a couple of months ago I was beavering away in the fruit cage with my gripple clips and nylon wire, erecting supporting wires for the raspberry canes – to say they have grown vigorously this year would be an understatement! Not quite keeping up in the growth stakes have been the various varieties of tree fruit introduced to the garden earlier this year, but I have plans for these…

As well as producing crunchy apples oozing with flavour and plums which melt in your mouth as well as run down your chin, these trees have an important role to play in the garden aesthetics. Some will be trained in a pyramid form, others will creep horizontally along the supporting wires to form wonderful espaliers, and the cherries will dramatically fan out across the back fence. Of course, you can’t rush these kind of things and it’s going to be years rather than months before the trees take on their desired shapes, but I’ve made a start by thumping in the wooden posts and stretching the nylon wire between them before pruning the trees in the winter, and I’ve already gently summer-pruned the trees which will eventually form a pyramid - they don’t require any support.

Pests at Rest!
Don’t say it too loudly, but it seems to have been a quiet month for pests in the garden! Last year, I remember regularly blasting black bean aphids off the runner beans with the hose and luckily that’s still a memory, as there has been no return visit – perhaps they don’t like the presence of the French climbing beans? I have however spotted colonies of black aphids on the nasturtiums, planted as companions and obviously doing their job. I’ve also noticed lots of ladybirds this year, both outside and inside the greenhouse and the basil I planted in with the tomatoes seems to have deterred even the bravest whitefly. It’s not all good news, however; I’ve had the dubious pleasure of being introduced to the root aphid, which decided the carrots would be a nice place to live. This pest aside, I’ve definitely noticed a reduction in the various creatures queuing up to take a chunk out of the leaves and fruit, and long may it continue!

Don’t forget to take time out from the garden to visit our Harrod Horticultural weblog, accessible from the Garden Forum link on this page, and enjoy reading the articles we’ve posted and the many comments they’ve attracted – maybe even post a comment of your own, especially if you’ve got some good gardening tips or can relate to some of the problems or questions raised. We’ve got recipes, pest control information and lots more – the Garden Forum is certainly the place to visit!