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2023-06 The Tatsfield Gardener in June – Jon Allbutt


Although it has not been great weather for being out and about, it is excellent growing weather and the high rainfall will top up our reserves and bodes well for the summer months. This month should be drier and warmer, maybe even hot!

My rainwater harvesting system – a pair of 230-litre water butts made of recycled plastic – is working very well, I am now planning how to keep the water free of algae and insect pests. There are a lot of potions for sale making bold claims but surprisingly few actual details of how effective they are and what they control, watch this space!

All is well in my new greenhouse with all summer annuals and perennials out and mostly planted already. The automatic roof vents are very effective, saves on frequent visits to check temperatures, opening and closing to try and keep a consistent temperature. My new grow boxes (thank you David Bacon!) are in position and the tomatoes, cucumbers and melons are growing well; the peppers and aubergines are doing well in pots and will soon be taken out into a sunny spot. I made a second sowing of one of my favourite vegetables (Okra or Ladies Fingers) and they are doing well. Okra can grow to 4’ tall and produce a huge crop – we will see! Top and tail them, then cut across into small pieces; now almost dry fry them with spices of your choice and plenty of garlic until they start to cook but remove them from the pan before they go soft! They make a super side dish for a curry! If you fancy trying to grow some give me a call (577100).

It is very important to keep your greenhouse as dry as possible, this greatly reduces risks of mildew, botrytis and other nasty rotting diseases. Water the soil around your plants only, do not splash water around on the floor and benches and keep all windows and vents open in hot weather.

My manger and hanging baskets are doing well, it is not too late to plant up containers this month. I am using recycled waste coconut fibre (called coir) bought in rolls so I can shape them properly. I am using slow-release fertiliser and water-retaining granules in my non-peat multipurpose compost. The granules are small and white in the packet but quickly swell into wobbly jellies within the compost, as the compost dries, they release the water for the plant to use, this greatly reduces the need for frequent watering.

A word of warning! Just because the surface of the compost is looking very dry it does not mean the whole container needs watering, poke a finger gently into the compost and check before watering.



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