Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary May 2014
We have had the perfect growing weather in Stephanie’s Kitchen Garden this month. It’s been a mixture of warm sunshine and steady rain and the crops are really thriving. Unfortunately so are the weeds! And the pests are beginning to arrive as well....
May has been a busy month here with lots of planting out and seed sowing. Earlier in the month we planted our sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower into our vegetable cage. We are currently trialing an insect mesh cover for our Chelsea Award winning storm proof cage. So far it is performing very well. We’ll keep you informed of how it gets on and when it becomes available. Our brassicas have been planted into limed soil to help prevent clubroot. We also applied cabbage collars to the plants to protect against cabbage root fly. This year we used mycorrhizal fungi on the roots of our young plants when they were planted out and they are already showing strong healthy growth.
We have also planted out our celery and celeriac into our raised beds and sweetcorn, beans and courgettes into our main vegetable boarders. Squashes have been planted around our obelisks and will be trained in as they grow. The garden is full to bursting point! Our courgettes have been planted in plant haloes this year to aid with watering. We’ve not tried this before, and will let you know how they perform.
Our potato crop is looking really healthy and we have already earthed them up twice.The potato bags from the greenhouse have been moved outside to free up some much needed space.They are enormous and we are looking forward to harvesting them very soon.
Jo has been adding generous quantities of compost to all the beds prior to planting out. Our bins are full of beautiful home made compost and crawling with worms. And all completely free. Lovely!
The fruit trees and bushes are also looking lush and full of the promise of fruit. The pears have already begun the June Drop and our strawberries are dripping in fruit ready to ripen in the sun. We have already had our first harvest from our greenhouse strawberries. Delicious. All of our fruit is being fed weekly with a foliar feed of liquid seaweed. Our strawberries have been netted to stop the birds from tucking in to our crop and we have applied mulch matsto the base of the plants to keep the fruit clean. With all the rain we are having, the fruits would rot if allowed to lay directly on the soil.
Inside the greenhouse our crops have all now been potted up into their final growing pots. We are using tomato success kits, tomato towers and quadgrows to make sure all our plants have a regular water supply. We also have tomato plants growing in the greenhouse boarder in plant haloes supported with a slot and lock frame. And because we are greedy for more, we have tomato plants growing in growhouses outside in the garden.
Whilst everything is growing well and on track for a good season, there are already signs of pests and diseases arriving to thwart us. It certainly appears to be a good year for slugs and snails and we are being vigilant with the nemaslug to keep them at bay. We have also been placing slug pellets around our newly planted crops as the snails love to hide in the box hedge ready to feast at night. In our raised beds Jo has been using slug fabric and has found this to be effective.
Despite the appearance of lots of ladybirds earlier in the year, aphids are beginning to arrive in the garden. At the moment they are only evident on the roses in the surrounding grounds but we are armed with our spray should they migrate to the Kitchen Garden.
The warm wet weather has had some detrimental effects on one of our garlic varieties which is now suffering from a bad attack of rust. This year, instead of planting our garlic in one bed, we spread the crops around the Kitchen Garden in an attempt to use the garlic aroma as a deterent to pests on other crops. This has paid off as so far the rust is isolated to only one variety and we are hoping it stays that way. This crop will be burned rather than composted and we will avoid growing garlic, leeks or onions on that site for a few years.
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
-Plant out sweet potato slips into enriched soil.
-Feed tomato, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers weekly with a liquid tomato feed.
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!