Midsummer on the allotmentPosted By: rocket veg Category: Growing Veg, Pests and Diseases, Seasonal Tips
With the advent of some much anticipated crops – strawberries, broad beans, the first ‘new’ potatoes, peas, tiny carrots and baby beetroot to name a few – here are some helpful reminders of important jobs to do to keep your vegetables flourishing and various beasties at bay.
Protect your soft fruit to deter birds
‘Soft fruit’ – black, white and red currants, gooseberries and various berries (Straw, Rasp, Logan, Tay...) are ripening like crazy, helped by this spell of wonderful hot and sunny weather! Turn your back and blackbirds, pigeons and assorted other birds will have a field day unless you take steps to cover the fruit bushes with some kind of protective netting. I’ve written about this before, so search for previous articles for some helpful suggestions and advice on constructing a fruit cage – but simply throwing a large piece of netting over your fruit bushes will certainly go some way to deterring birds from making off with the choicest berries.
For a succession of tasty lettuces, radishes and other salad crops, make time to sow a few short rows on a regular basis. A tip is to water the drills well before sowing as this will encourage strong root systems to develop. If you have room, it might be better to start seeds off in trays and transplant the seedlings in a few weeks.
Don’t let your crop of carrots fall prey to the carrot root fly which lays its eggs on the seedlings. Once hatched, the tiny flies burrow to the centre of the plants and feed on the developing roots. There are various ways of deterring the carrot root fly. As the female fly is low-flying, a barrier at least 60cm high around the carrots is most effective. A cover of fine mesh laid over the plants offers some protection, so growing plants with a strong odour – maybe herbs such as rosemary and sage - near to carrots is supposed to mask the distinctive carrot smell which acts as lure to the root fly.
Tomato plants being grown ‘under glass’ should be nearing their maximum height by now. The general rule is to pinch out the growing tip when five or six trusses of fruit have set (ie. tiny tomatoes can be seen where the flowers were). Continue to rub out any side shoots and make sure your tomato plants receive regular watering and feeding of all crops so that the tomatoes develop
Keep weeds under control
It’s time to get that hoe out and enjoy slicing through the weed growth and watch the chopped off plants shrivel in the sun. Hoeing is best done on a ‘little and often’ basis and you will be surprised how easy it is to keep your plot weed-free.
Watering wisely is very important in hot weather, not only to preserve precious stocks of both rain and tap water but also to ensure that the right crops get the full benefit.
Watering which is targeted at specific crops is far more effective than sprinkling over a wide area in the belief that you are doing some good, so take the rose off your watering can and give each plant a good soaking delivered round the base of the stem – that way, the water will soak down to the root system and nourish the plant for several days, even in this hot, dry spell. Many types of vegetable – such as members of the brassica family - will manage well, even when deprived of water, developing strong root systems as they burrow deep into the soil in search of moisture.