Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary June 2011

Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary - 30th June 2011

Hooray!  We have finally had some rain since our last update – only one day of it, but nevertheless it’s still rain and it was very welcome.  As we seem to be having less and less rain these days we have been busy at the kitchen garden this month installing various forms of irrigation in the fruit cage, vegetable beds and the raised beds too. The well we had in the garden has eventually run dry so we have had to think of other ways of collecting water to keep our fruit and vegetables well watered. 
Company horticulturist Martin Fiddes is the Rain King and he's been busy installing the various gutters, water butts and irrigation kits. The potato bed now has a Soaker Hose Kit installed which has been laid between the rows so we are hoping that the much needed water will swell up our potato tubers giving us a bumper crop, especially from the earlies which are due for harvest soon. Soaker hose has also been placed in the legume bed so fingers crossed our runner, French and broad beans will benefit from this. We have started harvesting the broad beans in the last couple of weeks so the remaining pods will now swell up and come on even quicker.
Some of the raised beds have now been fitted with an AquaBox Spyder Watering System – these are highly effective and the cucurbits (courgette and squash plants) are looking well irrigated and are coming on a treat thanks to these arachnid-looking kits!  Other raised beds have been fitted with Click and Drip Raised Bed Watering Kits and once again these get top marks because water is taken straight where it’s needed – to the root zone - and the Rainbow Chard will just love all this extra water at its roots. Further beds have been equipped with the Garden Watering Kits so the Baby Corn, Celeriac and Courgettes will be happy too. Martin's made the installation of these kits almost invisible and has done a very neat job - I had to look twice to make sure the beds were connected!
The potting shed now has guttering and an Oak Barrel Water Butt  connected to it. These genuine ex-distillery barrels are very stylish and add another real feature to the garden, so we now have a much greener garden all set up to collect as much free rainwater as possible and cut the demand on our water meter and hence saving money.  This will also save precious time for Lynn our Kitchen Gardener trying to keep everything watered during this busy growing time in the garden.

Everything is coming on great guns in the garden, there has been a sudden spurt with all the vegetables, we are already enjoying the broad beans, spinach and Little Gem lettuces.  Some early Lady Cristl potatoes have been harvested, these were grown in Potato Bags and started off in the greenhouse and brought outside in late May but they can easily be set up in the garden if you don’t have the luxury of a greenhouse.  A great way of getting an early crop too especially if you are short on space.  These bags will be replanted again with Maris Peer potatoes later in the summer in the hope of a harvest on Christmas Day. The sweetcorn and baby corn were all planted out a few weeks ago and are already doing well.  The garlic is swelling up nicely and won’t be long before that’s ready for harvest too.

We have had one disaster in the garden this month, the spring onions failed to materialise. Having inspected the seed packet it appears a rogue packet of seeds from 2008 have slipped in the potting shed somehow – the seed tins have now been cleared out and new seeds sown.  A lesson well learnt – always check the date on your seeds!
The fruit is looking good too – Blackcurrants are almost ready, along with the Tayberries and Raspberries so I'll be having some nice fruit pies soon. The strawberries are looking a treat positioned on the Strawberry Raised Growing Table postioned in the large fruit cage for protection but Hoop & Netting Kits are an optional extra to protect your sumptuous crop from the ever hungry birdies.

We now have a Kiwi plant all set up in the corner of our greenhouse. It’s all very exciting but it’s unlikely we will be getting fruit from it this year but we can live in hope for next year as the plant fruits on two year old canes.  We have purchased a female plant var. ‘Jenny’ so no need for a male pollinator. Only time will tell if it takes over the complete greenhouse.  As per the name these plants originate from New Zealand, where much of the climate is similar to ours so fingers crossed again!

We have had the usual problems with pests this month – not so much slugs because we applied Nemaslug but the snails have been tormenting us big time.  They have certainly been determined in munching our young tasty plants so we have been ruthless in our aim to win the snail war and have set up Slug Inns with beer, sprinkled organic Advanced Slug Killer and placed Slug Circles around the young courgettes and brassicas.  Our pea bed now looks like a fortress!

Aphids have taken up home on some of our apple tree leaves and ants have started to live off the aphids so these little critters have now been zapped with Savona Spray and it’s like Springwatch in our kitchen garden – we now have a beehive complete with our own colony of pollinating bees. The bees are now at home in the Beepol Garden Hive & Lodge and no, we haven't been stung yet and are unlikely to as these docile pollinators are only interested in flowers!  
Unfortunately, we still haven’t got round to trimming the box hedging but it’s getting right near the top of our never-ending task list! We have been busy you know!

As you can literally see, the garden is in full swing which is good news for the local garden pest population - we've already had a few uninvited visitors as you can see above. Eager to get their jaws, mandibles and proboscises into the young seedlings and plants, this unwanted army will stop at practically nothing! That's where our latest version of the Little Book of Pests - now entitled the 'Little Book of Least Wanted Pests' - proves invaluable as each of the 24 pages is packed full of information about the major garden pests along with plenty of ideas of how  to prevent and remove the threat to your plants each one poses. What's more, this must-have pest guide is completely free so all you have to do is decide if you want to download a copy (below) or request the book from us!         

If 2011 is your debut gardening season - or even if you're an old hand who knows their leeks from their legumes - a great way to start is by requesting a copy of our latest new, 116-page Summer Edition 2011 catalogue, jam-packed with seasonal and brand new gardening ideas for the kitchen garden, patio and greenhouse - an inspirational addition to any potting shed or coffee table. And if the above isn't enough, you can also pick up loads of handy tips by following us on Twitter and Facebook; we've got a busy gardening blog on the go and we're always here to offer advice and support too! 

And finally to end this month’s update, we look forward to seeing you all at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, held in a delightful location on the banks of the Thames between July 5th and 10th. We're playing a big part in the feature display, the stunning Edible Garden, which features our raised beds, manger planters and a showpiece Decorative Steel Fruit Cage - and you'll also be one of the first to see our much talked-about Garden Arch Range which we launched at the 2011 RHS Chelsea Show. We look forward to seeing you there, in the meantime for us in the garden we must plod on with our never ending list of jobs to do this time of year in the kitchen garden.