Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary July 2013
Phew! What a scorcher July has been. Here in the Kitchen Garden temperatures have been soaring. Our crops have been thriving with so much sun and warmth and we have been harvesting aplenty. With the all watering, feeding and harvesting, it's been busy, busy, busy!
In the heat of the Summer, most of our time is spent watering and feeding the veg plants to keep them happy in the sunshine. This can be a time consuming job. We have installed a number of watering gadgets to help keep this work to a minimum. Soaker hoses are laid in our main beds, which are simply plugged into the hose and then allow water to seep into the soil at the roots of the plants where it's needed. We have Raised Bed Irrigation Kits set up on all of our raised beds, which again direct water at the roots of plants. We water our main crops thoroughly twice a weekduring the really hot weather and this is enough to keep them healthy. It is a good idea to water early in the morning or late in the evening so the plants get the maximum benefit.
In the greenhouse, the plants are surviving the heat with the help of Quadgrow self watering systems and Tomato Success Kits. These are so useful to prevent us having to water more than once a day. We also put shading on our greenhouse when the hot spell started to prevent the plants becoming too hot and scorched.
Just as the warm weather started, our Autovent on our greenhouse window stopped opening. It is so important to keep the greenhouse well ventilated, so Jo was quickly up the ladder to replace the gas cylinder in the vent. Our Autovents are about 8 years old so the cylinders have lasted really well.
The warm weather has also brought the pests and diseases out in force and we've been keeping a close eye on all our crops. The cabbage white butterflies have been frantically trying to find a way into the brassica cage and last week disaster struck when Jo spotted the tell tale holes on the brussel sprout plant at the corner of the cage. Closer inspection led to the discovery of caterpillars busy munching through the leaves. This particular plant had grown so big that the leaves touched the side netting of the cage. We had already removed these leaves as butterflies can lay their eggs through the netting if the leaf is accessible. But it was too late. Jo spent a couple of hours checking all the leaves in the cage and picking off the caterpillars and eggs. Thankfully we caught it early on and only a couple of plants had been affected. We applied some Nemasys Caterpillar Killer and an inspection a few days later confirmed that we had stopped the little blighters taking hold. A lucky escape and a lesson on how vigilant you need to be against these persistent pests.
We've been continuing to feed all our fruit and vegetables to get the maximum harvest. In the Kitchen Garden we use a liquid Seaweed feed and an organic fruit and vegetable feed. Our more established vegetables, such as the brassicas are being treated to a blood, fish and bone feed every 6 weeks and our greenhouse plants are being fed twice weekly with organic tomato feed.
We have been harvesting in earnest this month. Strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and tayberries and blueberries have been filling trugs in abundance. So much so, that I've had the jam pan out stocking up the larder with lovely homemade jam.
In the vegetable garden, we've been picking french beans, broad beans, broccoli, calabrese, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, kale, spinach, chard, spring onions, beetroot and salad leaves. Jo dug up the garlic and shallots and left them out to dry in the hot sunshine. The shallots have been stored in onion nets and the garlic was plaited and hung up for storage. This left us with much needed space for plants in the cold frame to be planted out. The ground has been dug over, given a good feed of blood, fish and bone and is now home to broccoli, calabrese and cauliflower.
Also this month, Jo has pruned the espalier fruit trees, pruning the sideshoots to three leaves above the base. She also thinned out the fruit to allow the remaining fruit room to grow and to prevent the branches becoming too heavy.
Amongst all the activity this month, I still managed to find time to plan my seed order for Winter in the Kitchen Garden. We'll be sowing these later in August ready to fill spare ground as it becomes available. I've also ordered our garlic, onions and shallots ready to plant in the Autumn. I was lucky enough to attend a workshop on Superfoods at The Grower in Woodbridge at the beginning of the month and this was my inpsiration when I was trawling through the seed catalogues. There is so much to grow through the winter months and I'll be looking to try and avoid the hungry gap this year.
Here are some of the jobs we've got planned for August in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden:
- Continue feeding and watering to keep plants healthy.
- Sow Salad leaves, Spring Cabbage, Spinach, Oriental Vegetables, Peas, Rocket, Chard, Mizuna.
- Transfer Leeks to their final growing space.
- Continue to harvest and store fruit and vegetables.
- Keep on top of weeds by hoeing on dry sunny days.
- Maintain a Pest Watch to catch any infestations early.
We're always here to offer advice and support. Go to the Ask the Expert section on the website and Email Horticultural Advisor Jo Blackwell with your Kitchen Garden queries or Pest Control expert Gavin Hatt and they'll do their best to help!
We're busy tweeting about all things Harrod Horticultural - what we're doing, special offers, gardening tips and advice and you can always use Twitter or Facebook to get in touch with us as well. With our webteam manning the Tweet decks and Facebook site, you can be sure you'll get the best service we can offer!
Our 116-page 2013 catalogue is out now and it's packed full of gardening ideas, products and solutions to the problems every gardener faces, plus plenty more seasonal ideas to help get the harvest in and keep it fresh!