Gardening Thoughts – Summer 2012

Now is the time for planting summer bedding, once the risk of frost is over – which should be now, but who knows with the weather we’ve been having – one day beautiful spring sun, the next driving, cold rain. Anyway, if we don’t get on, nothing will be done.

People in Sheepwash have been asked to do a red, white and blue theme for Jubilee year. We’ve bought some red and blue (deep purple, actually) petunias and white nemesia, but there are obviously other plant combinations that you could use.

Plants in pots will need feeding – we use tomato fertilizer, which is high in phosphate and potash, to encourage good flowers. For bedding plants in borders use Phostrogen or Miracle Gro. Once a week should be enough.

Early flowering shrubs, such as camellias, forsythia and flowering currants, can be cut back now that they’ve finished flowering, as can mock orange once that’s finished. This gives time for new growth which will provide the flowers for next year.

As the summer goes on, dead head roses to promote continuing flowering and pick sweet peas almost daily. If sweet peas see seed pods they will stop flowering, as their job is done in reproducing themselves!

You can also cut back aubretia with garden shears once that has finished its Spring flowering – give it a liquid feed and you could get a second flush of flowers. This also applies to delphiniums and lupins.

Mulch everything to retain moisture.

In the vegetable plot, now is the time to plant out or sow runner beans and French beans, the danger of frost being over, hopefully, although I notice that quite a few people have already done this and got away with it this year. There’s still time to sow peas. Broad beans should be growing away well now, though mine are very backward in coming forward. Watch out for black fly infesting the growing tips and once the plants are well in flower you can pinch out the tops to control this.

Sweet corn can be sown or planted out, but do this in a block planting, not a row, as these plants are wind pollinated and in a row pollination would be poor.

Courgettes and marrows can be planted out now, or even sown in open ground, two seeds per station at two foot intervals, pinching out the weaker of the two as they grow.

All salad crops can be sown. We do ours in short rows, successionally.

Plant out brussels and purple sprouting, at least two feet apart, for winter cropping (they need a good, firm bed), and cabbages for summer and autumn – but watch out for cabbage white butterfly:  look for clusters of orange eggs on the underside of the leaves and rub these off.

Leeks can be planted out about nine inches apart. Using a dibber to make a good deep hole, drop the leek plant in, fill the hole with water, not soil, and away they go.

You can also try some tomatoes outdoors in a sunny, sheltered position, in gro-bags. Pinch out the side shoots as the plant grows and once you have five trusses of flowers take out the growing tip. Tomatoes need a lot of attention and regular feeding to produce a good crop.

And now, I could doubtless go on about a few more things, but I want to get out into the garden!

Jeremy Burden

June 2012 (Summer issue)