Gardening presenter and content producer, Ade Sellars, shares his top tips for perfecting a summer garden
The skies are blue, the air is warm, and the birds are singing. Summer has arrived! For the past few months, we’ve been working up to this glorious season: sowing seeds, potting on and planting out. And now it’s time to reap the rewards. With flowers blooming and crops ready for the picking, gardens and allotments have never looked so fine. But with pests lurking and diseases only too keen to spoil your prized veg, it’s important to remain vigilant.
Summer won’t last forever, but while it’s here, take the time to relax in the garden with a glass of something cold.
If you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to introduce a plant feed. Nutrients in pots, containers and hanging baskets will have quickly depleted, so give them a weekly feed and ensure you maintain a regular watering regime.
With heavy flowerheads and ever-growing stems, plants such as dahlias and gladioli will need staking. This extra support will not only prevent damage, but discourage ground pests from attacking low-lying plants. Also, what’s the point of growing tall flowers if you can’t see their glorious blooms?
Hot temperatures outside will mean even warmer temperatures in your greenhouse. Just a few extra degrees can cause your young plants to shrivel and die. So, introduce shading to your glass roof, keep all vents and doors open to encourage a steady airflow, and water the floor daily to increase humidity and deter red spider mite.
For vegetables such courgettes, beans and peas, the key is to pick them regularly. This will ensure the plant continues to produce. Letting crops grow past their best can encourage pests, or send a signal to the plant to stop growing altogether. Carrots, beetroot and onions will also be ready for harvesting.
By now, you should have five or six trusses on your cordon tomatoes, so, before your plants reach the greenhouse roof, pinch out the growing tips. The energy will transfer into setting your tomatoes. Also, feed regularly, and pinch out all side shoots. Don’t let plants dry-out, or water irregularly, as this can encourage blossom end rot. Finally, remove any leaves beneath the first truss of tomatoes, as this will help circulation and prevent the build-up of pests and diseases.
You mention winter, and people shudder. Yet it’s something we need to keep at the back of our minds. If you’re hoping for a harvest of winter veg, then you should be thinking about planting your winter veg out into their final growing positions. Vegetables to consider are, brassicas, leeks, swede…and do I dare say it? Christmas potatoes. One of my favourites is purple sprouting broccoli, a must-have winter veg.
But for now, let’s make it a summer to remember. So, take stock of your gardens, smell the flowers, and savour those summer harvests.