Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary June 2014
The growing season is in full swing here in Stephanie’s Kitchen Garden. The garden and greenhouse are packed with crops and we have been harvesting lots of lovely fruit and vegetables all month. June is one of the busiest months of the growing year and I sometimes have to remind myself to stop for a moment and take some time to simply admire how lovely the garden is looking. These moments don’t last for long, however, as the urge to grab a spade or secateurs is often too much for me to resist!
June has been all about watering and feeding. We have irrigation installed in all our raised beds and in the main boarders to keep our plants from becoming thirsty. Jo feeds the greenhouse crops with liquid tomato feed once a week. Outside the squashes, courgettes, beans and fruit bushes and trees are all fed with liquid seaweed feed each week, whilst longer term crops such as brassicas are given a feed of blood fish and bone every six weeks. Keeping the crops healthy is the key to preventing attacks from pests and diseases so we make sure we keep to a strict regime. And of course it ensures we get the maximum harvest from our crops.
Despite our best efforts, however, we have already suffered with pests and diseases. Our garlic crop has been hit by a bad attack of rust. We have picked off the affected leaves and burnt them. These do not get added to the compost bin as the spores of the disease can survive in the compost and affect future crops. Our garlic Early Purple White was due to be harvested this month anyway so we decided to dig it up to avoid the rust spreading to other crops. We were surprised to find that, despite the rust, we still got really good size bulbs. These have now been hung up to be used as wet garlic. Our remaining garlic crops are being kept in the ground for the time being, but will be dug up early if the rust gets worse.
Another pest that has made an appearance in the Kitchen Garden this month is the dreaded slug. Jo has been applying nemaslug to the beds every six weeks since April and this has helped keep the slug population under control. However today, after a night of heavy rainfall, we found a huge slug who had climbed up the side of a raised bed and onto the butterfly netting. He was busy tucking in to a kale leaf that was touching the netting - a timely reminder to keep an eye on netted crops and make sure the plants are grown well away from the net. Slugs of this size are a rare and unwelcome sight in our Kitchen Garden – needless to say he didn’t stay there for long!
June is the month for planting out sweet potato slips. We took delivery of ours at the end of May and they have been growing in pots in the greenhouse ever since. Last year our sweet potato plants were the highlight of the year. They looked amazing grown in a raised bed and trained up an obelisk. Everyone who visited the garden commented on how good they looked. And at the end of the year they provided us with a bumper crop of sweet potatoes – our best yet. Keen to repeat this success, Jo cleared old crops from a raised bed and dug over the soil adding generous quantities of well rotted manure and homemade compost. The slips were then planted at the base of the obelisk and well mulched with strulch to keep the moisture in the soil.
Other crops we have planted out this month are kale, which has been planted in a raised bed and covered with a storm proof vegetable cage, peas and leeks. In the cold frame we have young salad, rocket, spinach and chard plants ready to be planted into the spaces made by crops that are coming to an end such as broad beans and potatoes.
And of course we have been busy harvesting this month. We’ve picked strawberries, mangetout, broad beans, French beans, early potatoes, spinach, broccoli and cucumbers. Phew! There’s nothing like tasting your own produce as a reward for all the hard work.
The humans in the Kitchen Garden aren’t the only hard workers helping to keep the garden productive. This month we took delivery of bees for the hive in the garden. They settled in quickly and are busy buzzing around the flowers on our runner beans. A welcome addition to the garden.
Here are some of the jobs we've got planned for June in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden:
- Hoe and weed beds regularly to prevent weeds taking moisture and goodness from the soil
- Continue weekly foliar feed with liquid seaweed for fruit trees.
- Apply nemslug too beds and boarders every six weeks.
- Feed tomato, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers weekly with a liquid tomato feed.
- Stake brussel sprouts to stop them toppling as they grow
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!
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Our 116-page 2014 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!