The month of June is here and the busy period in the gardening calendar is easing. The plot is full as most of its inhabitants have taken up summer residence and the warmth at the end of May helped them settle in well.
But a damper was put on proceedings as the bank holiday weekend got underway and, true to form, the rains arrived. It was a case of ‘don't rain on my parade’ as the Jubilee celebrations got started. The heat and sunshine of the previous two weeks soon evaporated into downpours.
Ok, it was a drop of rain that some gardeners wanted, after the baking sun and hours of watering in the new arrivals, but we are not without feeling and we could have waited. I think those water-wise gardens at Chelsea brought about the change!
It is time to watch those weeds spring into action as this rain falls on warm ground. There is, however, something therapeutic about weeding when the ground is moist as their roots soon tug free and they are no more. It is no good using the hoe on the moist soil, as these hardy weeds topple over but are soon back upstanding and growing on well. Remove them by hand and use the hoe to break up the soil between the rows and hopefully destroy a few seeds of these weeds that are just germinating.
The beginning of June is also the time for me to spoil some of my crops that have established themselves during May, and crops like onions and broad beans are treated to a twice-weekly feed. The broad beans are laden with tiny beans, so the bees have been busy, and a high potash feed is essential to allow them to swell. The onions, on the other hand, need a feed high in nitrogen to form plenty of green leaves. The more leaves there are on an onion the bigger the onion as each leaf is a circle in the onion bulb. As a well-known actor once said ‘not a lot of people realise that’. As I am organic gardener, most of my feeding comes by way of my wormery and is free from steeped sheep manure, so it gives this balanced mix of nutritional requirements to my crops.
In the greenhouse, away from any outside elements, the tomatoes have got their feet well down into my rich border and are growing almost as I look at them. The lower trusses of tomatoes are laden with masses of yellow flowers and this is the time to give them a regular feed to help these newly-forming tomatoes to swell. Potash, again, is the key to a heavy crop and I use seaweed extract to provide this range of nutrients to give me bumper harvests.
In the corners of my greenhouse the cucumbers have settled in and are running skywards up their supporting canes. They need to be tied almost daily to these canes. While tying them have a peek at the side shoots and, where a tiny cucumber has formed, stop the side shoot two leaves the other side of this fruit.
There has been a lot of controversy flowing around the press about the use of insecticides. I never use any chemicals in my gardening regime as I prefer to grow mine free of any man-made substances. There are numerous ways that your precious crops can be protected from stalking insects and one of the best protections is to make sure they are in nutrient-rich soil and are growing big, strong and robust. Minor attacks can then be warded off without much damage being done.
Vigilance is one of the best forms of defence and, by patrolling daily around your plants, any newly-arrived unwanted pests can be despatched swiftly, before they take hold.
A well-balanced garden with its share of beneficial insects is in equilibrium and can almost take care of itself. A few plants that attract these beneficial insects dotted among your normal crops are a small sacrifice to make for all the good they will do. Borage and the poached egg plant are to be seen all around my plot and these attract hoverflies whose larvae have a great appetite for aphids.
Go on, be green and help yourself and your garden thrive naturally.