June 2017, seed quality, no dig speed, pests to watch for, compost and manure heaps
Wonderful growth has happened in May’s second half, after 59mm rain and warmth. Nights especially were the warmest of any May I recorded since the 1970s. Up to 15th the night minimum was average 7.5C/45F, then 16th-31st it was 11.1C/52F.
However June looks cooler, probably windy and unsettled at times, summer!
I am impressed with the vigour of Bingenheim carrot seed, from biodynamic farms in Germany. Look at it’s vigour compared to the other end of the bed, where I sowed F1 seeds from Kings. All seeds purchased this year.
Biodynamic quality. Make of it what you will.
Not waiting to grow
I am not sure where this waiting idea comes from as it’s in two recent questions on my forum. It’s a maddening waste of potential crops and of soil life too.
For example, plant winter veg as soon as broad beans, salads, spinach, potatoes and onions are finished, the same day is good. Soil with plant roots in, during the growing season, is healthier, though it’s not always possible to have full beds in spring, as one waits to plant warmth-loving plants.
In summer, there is no need to wait, and every day counts as light and warmth lessen. I sow carrots between lettuce in June, for example, see below.
Same story with newly mulched ground. The photos are of reclaiming ground from couch grass, bindweed, buttercups etc last year, cropping while the weeds died.
There is a question on the forum asks about the value of compost made anaerobically, after methane is extracted. It sounds an interesting product and I think is good to use. How do you know? the analysis quoted is not revealing of important aspects such as microbial life. I would try some at least, if it were available here; it grows good farm crops.
In your compost heaps do add as much “brown” as possible, since most ingredients are currently fresh, green and full of moisture. It’s good to add dry cardboard and crumpled paper, some old leaves too. Soil is a brown ingredient and usually there is enough on plant and weed roots. See ‘hotbed move’ below.
Why no dig
Steph’s latest blog is about the many reasons people like no dig gardening. It’s a varied list and I just heard a new one, a man who has gone through garden tools at an alarming rate!
The two main ones for me are healthy plants and few weeds, plus many others such as ease of access in wet weather, moisture retention and good drainage, early cropping, no need to clear crops for a winter dig etc. You save so much time with no dig.
I received this comment from Tim the teacher at a primary school in North London:
“40 – 50 children come to our modest school garden in their lunch times every day and at an after school gardening club once a week
We, at the school have remained No Dig since September 2016, with much dismay from the children who simply love to dig, so I allow them to dig over and remove tree stumps, really to wear them out!”
Pest and disease
There is some blackly on broad beans yet if they can be kept moist, and in well fed soil (compost!) there will be few such pests. Aphids are drawn to plants under stress, from dry conditions and weak soil. It helps to pinch out the tops of broad beans when stems are full of flower, and to water in dry weather. My beans with blackfly are growing under apple trees so it’s dry for them.
Cutworms are eating lettuce and brassicas: run your fingers through the surface compost around plants that suddenly wilt from their stems being eaten. Ofter you unearth a fat, white grub.
Reports of ‘blight weather’ for potatoes are misleading because there are so few spores around. Wait until mid June before worrying about blight, and for now it’s safe to water tomato leaves.
Sow and plant in June – and harvest!
Do check my sowing timeline or diary, there is so much you can sow this month, such as carrots, beetroot, kale, spring onion, calabrese, lettuce etc.
Soon it’s time for harvests of new potatoes, calabrese, peas, carrots, so much to anticipate.
There is still time to plant tomatoes, aubergines, cucumber, peppers and chillies under cover.
I experimented with planting two cucumbers right in the middle of a clump of pea plants for shoots. After a final pick of the shoots, we just cut off the plants at soil level, and when checking for nitrogen nodules I was impressed to find cherry size lumps. Many more than are left in the soil after plants have finished their growth cycle, say in July after peas have cropped.
My greenhouse hotbed of horse manure is no longer needed, and tends to accumulate woodlice if left alone. Woodlice eat seedling leaves including brassicas, basil, aubergine and tomatoes. so when a friend was here to help, we forked it all out to a pallet enclosure outside.
The temperature went from 30C to 60C in a few days and I have planted some tomato and beans just to see what happens, plus to check for aminopyralid weedkiller residues. Next job is to cover the heap with a layer of compost then to plant aubergines: Steph is raising some fancy ones.
We have done more filming and a video on how to grow beetroot is almost finished, also one on pests. How to grow pea shoots has proved popular. A video on growing radish is ready but I shall post that in late summer when it’s again a good time to sow radish, compared to now when their flavour is spiky in warmer weather.