Gardening Thoughts – Summer 2013

Here we are, all on tenterhooks, hoping that the weather is actually improving and that which we have sown we shall duly reap! But it all seems a bit slow and vegetable crops are certainly slow at coming forward – but they will catch up. It’s just that what you would normally (though what is normal?) be doing now will be done in a few weeks time.

Hopefully, your peas, broad beans and potatoes are now all thrusting through the soil, ready to produce a bountiful harvest. I think one of the finest meals is boiling bacon with freshly dug new potatoes, freshly picked broad beans and fresh parsley sauce – a summer feast – I shall be looking forward to that!

Plants that you can be getting on with now are courgettes, marrows (these will need frequent applications of feed to produce good yields), and sweet corn. Sow sweet corn in a block, not a row, as it’s wind pollinated – pollination will take place in a block, whereas in a row it won’t.

Salad crops can be sown in short rows at about fortnightly intervals to give successional cropping.

Runner beans should be sown now, as should French beans, but do erect the canes or poles for these before sowing. Tomatoes and cucumbers can be set out in the greenhouse, but wait until next month to try outdoor tomatoes.

The blossom on apple trees is amazing this year – I just hope there are enough bees about to pollinate, as they seem very few on the ground. Which makes me wonder how well the swallows and martins are doing with so few insects for them to feed on. But I digress. Back to gardening.

Spring flowering bulbs should be deadheaded and given a good feed to encourage the bulb to develop well for next year. Don’t tie up or cut back the foliage until it has naturally died back to allow the plant to store up reserves for next year.

Once spring flowering plants, like polyanthus, have finished flowering they can be lifted, split and planted out in a shady situation to grow on for replanting where you want them in the autumn.

Plant out sweet peas on the frames you want them to grow up. I know this probably sounds a bit late, but as I said earlier, this year is somewhat backward. You should nip out the centre growing tip of sweet peas, as this encourages strong lateral buds to develop, which grow better.

Supports for perennial plants, such as delphiniums, oriental poppies and lupins, should be done now so that as they grow they hide the support.

And so to summer bedding. The choice is vast and I’m not going to make any recommendations. All I’ll say is, don’t rush to plant them out (we can still get some cold nights), but when you do, regular feeding once a week will give a good result. Hanging baskets need watering every day – but here I’m probably teaching granny to suck eggs, as they say!

There’s lots more I should write about, I’m sure, but memory starts to slip with age, so that’s it, folks. Except to say that our hedgehog is back and active, the swallows have looked at their nest under the tallet but have rejected it, but the martins have built and are using a nest right next to our bedroom window, so the need for an alarm clock has been superceded by their very early morning twittering – and I don’t mean computer usage!

Jeremy Burden

June 2013 (Summer issue)