Vegetable Gardening in Mid-Summer

Pruning

You may find it necessary to prune gooseberries in mid-summer, if there is an outbreak of mildew. This will infect the tips and young leaves. Cutting them off well back to healthy growth will do a great deal towards controlling the disease, without harming the shape or growth of the bushes.

Deblossoming

Continue to remove male flowers from greenhouse cucumbers and from peppers if flowering heavily. When vine flowers have finished setting, remove all the bunches except about ten to twelve on each plant, ensuring that those remaining are spaced out evenly, one to each sub-side-shoot.

Pollinating

hand pollinating melonsThough frame and cloche melons can set with the help of pollinating insects, you can make certain of getting the fruit when and where you want it on the plant, by hand pollination. Ridge cucumbers will set a good crop without your help.

Watering

Runner (pole) beans are deep-rooting, fast-growing plants, with a great demand for moisture. If you prepared the soil thoroughly and have kept it mulched and watered during dry periods, you should have no trouble with either the pods dropping as soon as set, or withering when half grown. Keep them well watered, though, mid-summer can be particularly drought-prone. Celery, celeriac, the cucurbits, tomatoes, potatoes and the soft fruit have priority on any water available, but all crops should have it when natural water is not forthcoming.

Weeding

Less arduous than earlier in the season, this job is still necessary here and there; annual weeds can have several cycles in one growing season and proliferate uncomfortably fast in wet weather. Hoeing, mulching or chemicals are all ways of keeping control.

Protecting

Blackbirds are attracted to tomatoes, so you may find that both outdoor and indoor kinds need to be guarded; soft fruit and brassica guard netting should be kept in order.

Ventilating

Continue to keep the greenhouse well aired, open frames and tunnels on the hottest days and separate cloches more, or less, depending on the temperature. Those over the early strawberries can be removed, if not already done, cleaned and stacked on their ends, one inside the other. Damp down the greenhouse as last month.

Treating pests and diseases

Two fungus diseases which can ruin crops and decimate plants from now on are blight on potatoes and tomatoes, and mildew on a variety of plants. Blight causes more trouble in wet summers, as the spores are spread by rain splashing; infected leaves have dark brown blotches on them, tomato fruits have brown patches, slightly sunken, and potato tubers will be found to have brown patches in the flesh. Regular spraying with a fungicide every ten to fourteen days will keep the top growth protected and clean.

Mildew takes the form of powdery white patches on the upper surfaces of leaves and spreads in mid-and late summer and early autumn, during dry weather, when there are heavy dews. Strawberries, gooseberries, all cucurbits, lettuce, peas, cabbage, onion, spinach and turnip can be afflicted; if you see it early enough, removal of affected. Parts, and watering the plants well, will often be all that needs to be done.

Apart from these, red spider mite, whitefly, caterpillars and maggots, celery leaf miner, leaf hoppers, slugs, snails, birds and mice are the other competitors for your crops besides you. Tomato moth caterpillars, large green or brown beasts, appear in the greenhouse.

Tomato leaf-mould is a fungus disease which spreads rapidly in greenhouse conditions and can kill plants. The spots appear yellowish green on the upper leaf surface and are velvety grey beneath. Remove affected leaves and spray with a fungicide; some varieties are resistant.

Indoor tomatoes may also begin to show magnesium deficiency signs, in the form of yellow patches on the leaves between the main veins. It usually starts to appear on the leaves about halfway up the plant. Spraying with a solution of magnesium sulphate at 28g per 4.5 litre (2 oz per 1 gal) of water, four or five times at ten-day intervals, should restore the leaves to their normal green.

Layering

tip-layering blackberries is an easy way of increasing your stock of plantsBlackberries and loganberries will have produced new shoots sufficiently long by now to be used for propagating. Bury the tip of a new shoot in the soil 15cm (6in) deep and, for additional security, pin it down where it enters the soil with a bent wire or wooden hook. By late autumn it will be well rooted and can be transplanted to a nursery bed for a year. Do not use your own plants for propagation unless you are absolutely certain they are free from virus.

Ordering

Although late autumn is several months ahead, mid-summer is not too soon to order new plants of cane and bush fruit, if you wish to renew your stock. By sending your order off early, you will get the best choice of plants, and receive them at the time you want them.

Harvesting

From now until the end of early autumn, vegetable cropping will be in full swing; the main soft fruit harvest will occur during mid-summer, though you can continue to pick soft fruit also until autumn, if the right varieties are being grown.

Globe artichokes will be ready for cutting, taking the king heads first, that is, the one at the top of each main stem. Cut the bud when the tips of the scales are just beginning to separate and are no longer tightly closed. Blackcurrants will be picked throughout mid-summer; if the variety is one which ripens the whole strig (cluster) at once, you can cut off completely the fruiting branch, down to a good new shoot, or down to ground level, if it has grown rather long. Red currants grow differently, and need a different method of pruning, so the strigs should be picked off individually.

As you cut the cabbages and cauliflowers pull the stump right out, roots and all, chop it up and put it on the compost heap, unless it is infected with pests or diseases, when it is better burnt. Kohlrabi should be lifted when the swollen stem is about the size of a golf-ball, for the best flavour. You can still eat them when tennis-ball size, but they begin to be tough and less tasty at that stage.

At the end of mid-summer you should be able to pick the first runner (pole) beans, lift the first of the self-blanching celery and cut some ridge cucumbers. Autumn-planted garlic will be ready and should be left to dry in the sun for a few hours after lifting and cleaning, as should the Japanese varieties of onions sown in late summer last year and the shallots planted in winter. Summer-fruiting strawberries will come to the end of their season; pick off the bad ones with grey mould infection at the same time as picking the good berries and destroy; greenhouse tomatoes should come into full crop.

Herbs with leaves which are used in cooking can be cut for drying now; they will have the best flavour if the plant they are taken from is just ready to start flowering. Strip them on a dry, sunny morning, after the dew has dried, but before mid-day, and spread them in single layers on trays to dry in a dark, warm, well ventilated place. Then put them in airtight, dark containers, as exposure to the light and air quickly releases their essential oils.

More on kitchen garden tasks for mid-summer …

29. August 2011 by admin
Categories: Kitchen Garden, Organics | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Vegetable Gardening in Mid-Summer

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