This is the busy season in the garden, but, as always, the thing to remember is that it should be relaxing and fun, so don't overdo it or try to stick to some fixed timetable about when things should be done. The changing weather has to be considered.
Weeds are usually successful because they grow and set seed quickly, so remove them before they flower. Various types of hoe can prove to be the best solution at this time of year. An ‘onion hoe’ is often considered to be one of the most versatile tools if used regularly to cut off the young weeds before established.
If you have fruit, you can improve the size of individual fruits by thinning out the buds. Now is the perfect time to train the stems of blackberries and other hybrid berries on a frame or wires and pruning your currant bushes to help get maximum yields by stopping plants being overcrowded.
Summer bedding plants can be planted out now; soak them very thoroughly beforehand and, if the soil is dry, pour water into the planting hole and let it drain away before putting the plants in, although you should still water them in well – this helps the soil settle.
Greenhouses heat up very fast in even hazy sunshine, so they will require the maximum ventilation possible and you may wish to consider some form of shading from now onwards.
Creating a regular regime of watering, particularly for tomatoes and peppers, will prevent problems like blossom end rot. Make sure that plants receive adequate watering from this time of year and remember to be consistent. This is particularly important for container grown plants and growbags.
All danger of frost should have passed, so any tender plants that have been germinated indoors or under cover can be planted out. Lots of vegetable seeds can be sown directly into the ground now e.g. beetroot, carrots, courgettes, cucumbers, peas, pumpkins and radishes.
Stake plants that have a tendency to flop over, especially those with big flower heads. Ideally, the stakes should be about 20cm (8”) shorter than the eventual height of the plant, so they’re completely hidden when the plants start to flower.
Pinching out the growing tips of broad beans will reduce possible attack by blackfly and it will promote setting rather than excess plant growth. This technique can also be used on many other herb plants and flowers like fuchsias, a few weeks after doing this your plants are bushier and more compact.
Keep earthing up potato plants and if you are growing them in pots or containers remember to continue to add more compost or soil. Harvesting some early potatoes can usually start after 10-12 weeks of growth. Boiling your first new potatoes of the season reminds you why you bother to grow your own vegetables!
Why not try to grow herbs that have the added advantage of being friendly to butterflies? Hyssop, lavender, marjoram and thyme all provide good nectar for these pollinators and will inspire you in the kitchen too!
Words: Transition Chesterfeld
Pictures: Robert Nixon Betts