June update: watering, sow broccoli etc, harvests inc. garlic, new videos, no dig successes
It’s drying up, so what is priority for watering?
1 Water new plants thoroughly, but not the whole area. Without a rose on the can, give water to the rootball only. Repeat after two days if the weather stays dry, then leave as long as possible, so that roots head downwards.
2 Water again as harvests approach, say when beans are flowering.
4 Salads and beans that are cropping regularly need water every 3-4 days, a good soak.
4 You can water in bright sunlight, it’s another myth that sun can scorch wet leaves. Gardening is simpler than it’s often made out to be.
During this lovely time of early harvests, do keep sowing and planting. The second half of June is excellent time for sowing beetroot (see video below), carrots, kale, broccoli for the spring, lettuce etc: and sow dwarf beans before about 20th June. Also plant leeks sown in April, and cabbages plus Brussels sprouts sown in May, for hearting in autumn.
Cabbage, calabrese for early summer
To have great hearts of cabbage now, you needed to sow in very early spring, special fast-hearting varieties such as Greyhound and Cabbice. The former cropped in May here, and the latter is making heads of up to 2.5kg/6lb now. It’s a great time to be picking them, before caterpillars get going; there are already a few green ones from moths.
It’s the same for early calabrese too, see my timeline. After clearing the stumps of cabbage and calabrese, plant more brassicas or beetroot or salads etc. Or with calabrese you can leave it to crop side-shoots for a month or so.
No blight yet
I am exasperated by the over-cautious blight warnings, now based on “Hutton Criteria” rather than Smiths periods. The ‘warnings’ include many days when in my opinion there is very low if any risk of blight. Until now, there have been hardly any spores around anyway, so fear not, unless the weather turns humid and warm.
I am trialling the same tomato varieties that showed promise last year in resisting blight. The photo shows them growing outside: Resi, Dorada, Primabella and Primavera.
I love this time of new harvests, even the ones not going to plan. I sowed Sugarsnax hybrid carrots, expensive seed from Kings, and germination was poor. The roots are lovely, actually no sweeter than Nantes, but so long that I need a spade rather than trowel to lever them out. I do not like doing that to soil, and prefer the normal Early Nantes.
In the polytunnel, I expect first cucumbers in a week or so, then it’s a time of glut, with courgettes outside too.
Edward and I have been working on a series of videos about growing particular vegetables. The latest to be ready is beetroot and I hope you find it helpful.
It’s based around multisowing under cover. I don’t mention sowing direct as many people know about that already.
We also made one about recognising and preventing pest damage.
Taunton Deane continues to impress. I am posting these photos to show how we harvest it, and this was two weeks of new growth. It works well to pick a few leaves every day if you wish, it’s such a versatile plant. Also thin out some some of the new stems, to make new plants, and to keep the harvest leaves larger because they are then less crowded.
Harvest soft-neck garlic soon
We already pulled some bulbs that were growing since November in the polytunnel, lovely bulbs and their outer sheath degrading already, although the main stem and leaves were still green. Don’t wait for the foliage to be all yellow, mot softneck garlic wants harvesting by 25th June, and hardnecks in July.
If the leaves are covered in rust, it’s better to harvest soon. You can still use cloves from it for planting: in my experience, rust is more to do with weather than with infection from the soil.
No dig successes
I have been receiving great feedback on gardeners reclaiming weedy allotments: two on Instagram in the last week, and one via mail. The latter was from Teresa Grodi in Ohio who wrote, on 8th June:
“In November 2016 I prepared a garden based on your YouTube instruction. It’s absolutely stunning. I planted around mid-April and have already harvested turnips, spinach, peas, kale and will have my first zucchinis this week! All of my tomatoes have flowers. The beets in the no-dig garden, when measured two weeks ago were over 12 inches. People are stunned when they see my garden. We actually have more crops at the moment than our CSA and local Farmers’ Market!”
Millie Williamson’s allotment below is looking easy to maintain now. It’s great that she took a before photograph, do remember that!
Open day this Sunday 18th June
The weather is set fair, there may be a crowd! Steph and I look forward to meeting lots of friends and fellow gardeners. There is a lot to see, including flower and fruit.