Summer poppies
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2023-07 The Tatsfield Gardener in July-August – Jon Allbutt


As I write, we are now over 30 days without significant rainfall and the medium term forecast remains largely dry with only light showers possible. The lack of spring frosts has been good for fruit set with a good show of fruitlets on my Bramley and Howgate Wonder (huge apples!), but if it does not rain then there will be a big ‘June drop’.

Our local trees have made a very large amount of early summer growth, the big beech in my back garden had made more than 18” of stem growth by mid June and a huge amount of flower which clogs the gutters as it falls, we will see if the seed has set and maybe we will have a big ‘beech mast’ (a large fall of ripe beech nuts).

The tomatoes, cucumbers (I will be picking cucumbers by the end of June) and melons in my new greenhouse are nearly three foot tall with flower and young fruit setting already. My peppers and the aubergine seem not to like the hot weather so much, despite open windows and doors the temperatures are around the 30s in the afternoon. My Okra (Ladies Fingers) seedlings continue to be a challenge! They are prone to damping off (a fungus disease on the stem at soil level) and are growing very slowly despite the hot weather, I will fight on and hopefully have some ready to show at the Autumn Show!

My system for saving rainwater using a pair of connected 250 litre water butts is working very well but I am having problems keeping the water clean and fresh despite the butts being on the North side of my new shed and are fitted with lids. I am trying out a natural solution using dried bugs as tablets that dissolve in water and multiply, they are supposed to eat up all the smelly algae, I will report on progress with this!

If you have summer flowering plants in containers it is time to make sure you are removing old flower heads, dead leaves, and give them a liquid feed. The recent hot spell of weather may have caused some scorch to leaves and flower buds, don’t hesitate to remove them to encourage new growth. Remember it is important to only water these containers in the late evening to allow the plants to absorb and re-hydrate overnight and reduce loss by evaporation.


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