Early Summer Kitchen Gardening Jobs

Staking, training and tying in

Raspberries, blackberries and loganberries will be producing new shoots which will lengthen very quickly, so these will want tying in, up the centres of the plants. Continue to tie and train such tall-growing crops as Jerusalem artichoke, aubergine, runner (pole) beans, indoor cucumber, indoor melon and tomato. Trailing marrows and squashes need only guiding as to the way they should grow, and the tips pinching out if they are out-growing their space.

Runner beans should be supplied with some form of support as soon as possible; there are various methods but whatever you use, make sure that it is really well anchored. A row of fully grown runner beans presents a massive barrier to the wind and, if it gets blown down, it is not really possible to erect it satisfactorily again.

Melons grown in frames or under cloches can be trained so that they produce two or four main shoots per plant. Take out the growing tip just above the fourth or fifth leaf, and side-shoots will be produced in the axils of the leaves, one to each axil. As these grow they will produce flowers, and one on each shoot should be allowed to set a fruit, if there are four side-shoots. If you have only allowed two side-shoots to a plant, each can carry two fruits. The small Ogen melons can be allowed to carry several fruits to each side-shoot.

The fruiting side-shoots will produce sub-side-shoots and sometimes the flowers will be produced on these, rather late, instead of on the main stems. These minor shoots and all subsequent ones should have the growing tip removed above the third leaf, to keep them in the space available. If need be, they can be kept shorter still.

Continue to tie in all the vine growth; when the sub-side-shoots reach the top wire, train them along it, or cut back to the top wire, to prevent undue crowding. As a general principle, the more leaf that is left the better the flavour of the fruit, and especially wine made from it.

The aubergines sown in late spring will need stopping any time now, at about 15cm (6in) tall.

Remove the runners from strawberry plants, unless you want to keep some to establish a new bed next year.

Pruning

If the red currants are strong, vigorous bushes, they can be summer pruned, starting just as the first fruits are beginning to colour. Cut the side-shoots on the main branches back to just above the fifth leaf on the new growth; do not do it all at once, but spread the pruning over about two weeks. Start with the oldest side-shoots, which will be nearest the centre of the bush.

Watering

Keep all soft fruit well watered, even if a dry spell lasts only a few days. Their demands for moisture are great, from now until late summer, and lack of it can mean two, not one, poor crops. During hot weather, melons under frames or cloches will need heavy watering every two or three days. Similarly, the vegetables should not be allowed to become thirsty; water all well with a fine spray for several hours, and then leave for several days. A dribble every day does more harm than good. Crops in the greenhouse will need a good watering every day in hot weather, preferably using water which is at air temperature.

Weeding

By now, there should be fewer weed seeds germinating and crops should have developed sufficiently to make it difficult for them to survive in any case. However, in wet seasons, you will be kept busy with the hoe; it is essential to get the weeds out while young, as they will grow very fast and will be very troublesome to deal with, if neglected.

Protecting

Strawberries will be coming up to full crop this month, so get them netted as soon as possible, if not already done. Make sure any netting which is already in place is well pegged down round the edges, remembering that blackbirds in particular will slip under the tiniest gap. The currants, gooseberries and raspberries will also be swelling fast – you may already be picking gooseberries for cooking – so protecting them is another priority job.

Cover your newly planted brassicas with bird-proof netting which should be strong enough to remain over them until harvesting next winter and spring.

Treating pests and diseases

Caterpillars, carrot and onion fly maggots, greenfly, capsids, flea beetles, celery leaf miner, slugs and snails, birds and mice may still be with you, but, unfortunately, there will now be a variety of other plagues. This is a bad time for hatching of various pests, but do not expect your plants to be invaded by all that follow; it is best to be forewarned in case any appear. Cabbage root fly maggots will bore into and feed on the roots of the young brassica plants, and the first signs will be wilting, slow-growing plants.

Caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly may appear from now on, eating large holes in the leaves of any of the brassicas; gooseberry sawfly may produce their second brood of caterpillars this month. Club-root of brassicas is a serious, soil-borne fungus disease infecting the roots; it results in the roots being swollen and distorted and infected plants die. Starting the seeds in sterilized compost in seed trays helps to avoid infection. Pea moth maggots are also a possible danger, feeding on the peas within developing pods; raspberry beetle maggots can hatch in the flowers and feed on the developing fruitlets.

In the greenhouse, red spider mite may begin to feed on leaves; it can be seen with a hand lens on the leaf undersides. It thrives in dry, hot conditions, so keep the greenhouse well damped down by hosing and you will do much to keep it at bay. Whitefly may also appear; these pests look like minute white moths on the undersides of the leaves and make the whole plant very sticky wherever they.

De-blossoming

Perpetual-fruiting strawberries should have the flowers removed until the end of early summer. The flowers of peppers should be thinned out, otherwise they produce a lot of small fruit. If aubergines are beginning to flower, remove all but four or five once these have set fruit. Remove also the male flowers from cucumbers in the greenhouse; if you do not the fruits will be bitter and mis-shapen.

Pollination

Melons under glass, and possibly some in frames and cloches, will be the better for assistance with pollination.

Increasing stock

You can take cuttings of the following now: rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme, using the tips of new shoots, about 2.5-5cm (1-2in) long, and putting them in 7.5cm (3in) pots of cutting compost. Stems of mint which have rooted can be separated off the parent plant and planted to start a new clump.

For a new strawberry bed, you can use the best plantlets your established plants will now be producing. The first or second on each plant will be the strongest and can be pegged down so that it either roots into the soil, or into 7.5cm (3in) pots of potting compost, plunged into the soil. Cut off the runner beyond the chosen plantlet, but do not sever the plantlet from the parent until it is well rooted.

Shading

The greenhouse will need shading from now until the end of summer, either by painting with a proprietary mixture, or with blinds; frames and cloches for melons and frame cucumbers should also be treated. Without it, fruit and leaves will be burnt brown as the heat of the sun’s rays is concentrated by the glazing material.

Ventilating

All the air possible should be given to greenhouse plants during the hotter weather, when the outside temperature rises above 21°C (70°F), opening the doors as well as the ventilators. Damp down the paths, borders, staging, and the inside of the glazing two or three times a day until late afternoon, but no later. This allows the greenhouse to dry off before night, otherwise the humidity will be so great that fungus disease will be encouraged to grow rapidly. Damping down can be done with a rosed watering-can, or with a hose with a spray nozzle attached; it lowers the temperature, and decreases the rate at which plants give off moisture as water vapour.

Frames and cloches can be opened or removed entirely, though melons like lots of warmth, provided they are shaded, and great humidity.

Ordering

If you intend starting a new plantation of strawberries later in the summer, this is a good time to order them from the nursery, for delivery in late summer.

Harvesting

Many more crops will be available in early summer, but you should stop cutting asparagus at the beginning of this season and allow the shoots to grow naturally so that the crowns can replenish themselves. Similarly, rhubarb should not be pulled after the middle of early summer, but completely remove flowering stems. Potatoes should be harvested as for maincrops but dig them up only when wanted.

More Early Summer Gardening Jobs in the Kitchen Vegetable Garden …

29. August 2011 by admin
Categories: Kitchen Garden, Organics | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Early Summer Kitchen Gardening Jobs

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: