Summer produce progress

Tiffany Daneff / 19 July 2016

Tiffany Daneff returns from holiday to find that the Sheep Garden produce is going great guns, and recommends an inventive new product to help with holiday watering.

How strange to return from holiday in the Mediterranean to find it’s even hotter here. The sheep have lost that just shorn pinkness they had before we left and are resting in the languid shade under the oaks, the meadows have been cut and the evening air smells of the sweet grass clippings.

The bad news is that the single bee orchid that appeared out of the blue last year has not come up. I have been searching the grassy track for weeks now and fear it’s not going to show. On the upside there was an impressive amount of common orchids growing just beside the motorway near Gatwick. Funny things, orchids.

Produce progress

Sungold tomatoes

In the veg garden the tomatoes are finally putting on growth. They were late starting this year because of the spring frosts and we have only grown Sungold as these are quick to ripen outdoors and we have nowhere to grow under glass. If the warmth keeps up we should have enough to eat before the frosts arrive in October.

Find out how to grow tomatoes

Onions and potatoes

The onions and garlic are coming on too. The potatoes need earthing up again otherwise we’re going to have a great crop of green tubers. Annoyingly, there are potatoes popping up all over the shop the result of me not digging them all up last year and the year before. We did try eating some of these rogue potatoes but I don’t recommend it. They were pretty watery.

Salad leaves

This year we planted the salad leaves in the shadiest bed where they are thriving. They know what they like. Last year, planted in a sunnier spot, the leaves were miserable. Hardly any came up and those that did barely reached three inches tall. This year cos, mizuna and rocket are big and handsome.

We have planted spinach at the end of the same, shady bed and after a slow start they seem to be getting their roots in the ground and putting some effort into growing. It’s all a matter of trial and error. You can read all the books and articles you like but every garden is different as are plants and it’s only by experimenting, moving things around, not being afraid to take a hit when you get it wrong, that you find out what will be happiest where.

Find out how to grow salad leaves

Let your phone do the watering

My top tip this week - for gardeners about to head on holiday – is to try the new Hozelock watering kit. You will need to have a smartphone to make it work and decent broadband (which I do not have) but once you have plugged in the hub and downloaded the app to your phone the set up is simple. Even I managed it, which is saying something.

The app connects to your local weather station and can be programmed to send you alerts and notifications.

Picture it: you’re on the sunlounger in Sicily, chilled beer at hand, when a message appears on your phone that it isn’t going to rain back home for some while. Moments later, with a few taps of the screen, your back garden is being watered. Ingenius.

Hozelock Cloud Controller Set is the RHS Product of the Year with good reason. Available from all good garden centres for around £100, or buy it on Amazon.

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