Vegetable plot maintenance
There can be a tendency for things to start to slip downhill in August, especially if the weather is very hot or you’re off for a summer holiday but, with a little bit of effort you can get far better results and keep your vegetable plot as productive possible for as long as possible :
- Make sure that vegetables and fruit that is still cropping or has yet to crop have enough water. If you’ve got water butts installed it need not even make you feel bad about wastage (if no butts, take this as a firm nudge to get a butt or two in place, perhaps taking water from the bath or shower!!) Crops which will bolt or run to seed if too dry will need to take priority eg lettuce, oriental vegetables, rocket, coriander .
- Consider applying a mulch to the thoroughly watered soil – many people mulch their flower beds but leave the veg plot to cope on its own. Crazy! A couple of inches of garden compost, well-rotted manure or even bagged material from the garden centre will really help to prevent moisture being lost from the soil surface and make it easier for the plants to continue to grow and crop well.
- Plants in pots in particular will need regular feeding, heavy cropping plants in open ground need it too – for anything which form fruits, like tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, cucumbers, courgettes, squash or late fruiting raspberries and strawberries, tomato food works really well. For leafy crops I’d use any general fertiliser as they don’t need that extra potash which the tomato feed provides.
- As you clear plants which have finished cropping make good use of the space you create by planting one of my ‘Grow Your Own with Pippa Greenwood Winter Thru Spring’ vegetable collections. The seven different varieties of vegetable plants are UK grown and sent out at a perfect time for planting in September, accompanied by monthly emails telling you exactly what to do to get the best possible results. There’s full details at www.pippagreenwood.com/grow-your-own
- Go on regular pest and disease patrols – any infestation or problem caught early is SO much easier to deal with, often without anything more than a jet of water for, say, aphids, or a pair of scissors for grey mould, mildew, rust etc.
- If the weather is very hot and sunny it is worth creating or installing some shading. I do this for those easy-to-bolt crops such as lettuces, salad leaves and oriental vegetables. If you’ve just cut back any shrubs or trees you can use suitable sized branches driven into the soil to create a sun shield or follow my lead and use the green net covered EasyTunnels over crops in rows – they provide a useful barrier to pests but also a useful level of shading, perfect to reduce the risk of bolting. These are available from www.pippagreenwood.com/products/protect-your-crops and last for years!