24th August 2020
Late summer is usually a lovely time in the vegetable garden. It is still short sleeve weather – well usually at least – many crops are being harvested and we have those gorgeous autumn colours to look forward to.
But there is still plenty to do. There is still time for sowing the seeds of spring cabbage and early winter lettuce. The weather can be unreliable but when the sun is out is can be very hot so some plants, particularly in the greenhouse, may need protection – as do gardeners’ heads, arms and legs!
Butternut squash and courgette plants can be massively leafy and produce so much cover that the actual fruits do not mature and risk rotting. If this is the case remove some of the top leaves to expose the courgettes and squashes to the sun but remember WEAR PROTECTIVE GLOVES AND COVER YOUR ARMS. The leaves have beastly little hook-like appendages that can cause a nasty skin irritation.
Net figs, plums, autumn raspberries, blackberries and currants, red currants and anything else that is vaguely edible to birds from marauding blackbirds, fieldfares and pigeons. Regularly check all brassicas for signs of maturing cabbage white butterfly eggs. Their caterpillars will decimate a row of lovely plants in a couple of evenings. Several remedies are available from appropriate suppliers. Take particular care with Brussel Sprouts and Sprouting Broccoli.
Runner beans are now coming to their fore but they are extremely thirsty plants and without rain need regular watering. It is difficult to give them too much. Keep a watchful eye on the stems that curl round their support poles in a clockwise direction. It is important to keep the base of the plants weed free.
Another plant that loves water is the tomato. They cannot be too hot providing they have plenty of water and are fed with a liquid feed weekly. Aubergines and peppers – both sweet and hot – are, like the tomato, ideal greenhouse plants. They need support and plenty of water plus a weekly liquid feed. If you are growing cucumber plants in the greenhouse, remember to keep them moist but not over watered and they like a fortnightly feed.
Onions growing outside should now be keeling over and going brown. Leave them on the earth if rain is not forecast and allow them to dry out. If they do get an accidental soaking, lay them on sheets of newspaper on a work-top in the greenhouse to dry out then store in a frost free, airy location away from direct sunlight.
Leek plants should now be growing strongly but keep them weed free and water in prolonged dry weather.
Chard and spinach beet are ready for harvesting and, when digging potatoes, make absolutely certain that all the tiny spuds are out of the ground or they will self-set next season – always in the wrong place. Do not compost the potato tops.
Visit our Planting & Growing category for a wide range of products ideal for growing your own fruit and vegetables any time of the year.