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Completing Planting And A Bumper Harvest

I have so much to write about today, as I have been working so hard at my allotment this week.  I wanted to finish planting all my crops before the long school holidays begin, in exactly one weeks time.  The schools here in Leicestershire break up earlier than the rest of the country.

I started by planted some more perpetual spinach:

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….And some more spring onions.  I sow my spring onions in modules as I always had a very bad germination rate when I sowed them straight into the ground (though I don’t know why as they are supposed to be an easy plant to grow).  By sowing a few seeds in each module, I find it almost guarantees a high germination rate.  I don’t thin the spring onions either, I just plant them as they are when they are ready:

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In the right hand photograph above, you can just see the newly planted spring onions and you can see the ones I planted out three or four weeks ago growing nicely behind.

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I also planted out my spring broccoli, curly kale and some more khol rabi.  All of the brassicas were planted in firm soil which I had dug and manured last autumn.  I also walked over the area before planting.

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As the ground was dry when I planted the brassicas out, I dug a hole for each plant and filled it with water.  When the water had drained away, I then planted them.  This allows the water to go deep into the ground to encourage the roots to also grow deep to find the water.  It also helps to stop the water from evaporating quickly after planting.

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I also planted some quick growing turnips too, but you may have to enlarge the photograph below to see them:

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All my brassicas have nets over, to stop the dreaded pigeons eating them.

While I was working in my brassica patch, I removed any yellowing leaves from my remaining spring cabbages. This will help to stop the build up of any pests or diseases lurking in them.  These cabbages were planted a month after my first spring cabbages and they are now starting to heart up nicely, so I will start to use these now.

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I have now officially ran out of room in my brassica beds and so I can finally say I have finished my summer brassica planting:

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This week I cut my comfrey down.  I prefer to cut my comfrey down before it flowers, but I just wasn’t quick enough this month.  If you have been reading regularly, you will know that I have already made comfrey tea this year (which incidentally is a wonderful high potash fertiliser used for all fruit and flowers e.g. it is a great tomato feed).  You can read how to make comfrey tea here.

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I have also added a vast amount of comfrey to my compost bins already this year.  So when I cut it down at this time of the year, I lay it down between my main crop potatoes instead.  This acts as a mulch to help to stop water evapourating from the ground and also helps to stop annual weeds from germinating.  When the comfrey breaks down, I just dig it into the ground to add nutrients to the soil.

I think comfrey is a wonderful plant!

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This week  I also cleared my old perpetual spinach that had ran to seed and planted my french beans in it’s place:

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I cleared my broad beans in my polytunnel that had finished producing beans:

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And I cleared my poached egg plants that had finally finished flowering either side of my path.  I transplanted some self seeded calendula plants in it’s place, though it looks quite bare at the moment it will soon grow and look pretty and be a bonus for the bees:

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Another thing I have started to do is to ‘nip’ the tops of my runnerbeans off as they reach the top of their supports.  This helps the plants to ‘bush out’ further down and produce more beans:

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This week’s harvest:

Plants have been growing slowly due to the cold spring we have had.  However, the plants are finally now producing and I seem to be having a bumper harvest.

I’ve started to pick my outdoor broadbeans this week and I have needed to pick them every other day:

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I have found my peas are just great, even though they a month behind.  My back has ached just picking them:

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So too is the mangetout (even though some are a little larger than I would have liked, as I didn’t notice they were ready):

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My potatoes taste delicious (especially with a knob of butter) and we are eating lots of lettuces, watercress and spring onions….I love summer so much.

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And my strawberries…well what can I say other than it really is a bumper crop and I’m picking carrier bags full every two days:

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Of course the down side is that I had to defrost my freezer ready for all the fruit and vegetables that I have been bringing home….

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.,….but it will be worth it when we are still tasting ‘summer’ in the long cold winter months.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday with some Jam making tips.

Hope you have a good weekend.

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What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In June

When I first started to grow vegetables I really needed the information to be in one place, so I could look it up easily. However, I found I had to search for lots of little bits of information, scattered between internet sites and books. It used to take me a long time to find the information I needed.

I thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of the UK gardeners, I write a list of things to be done each month and any useful information I can think of.

It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north.

It must also be noted that it has been very cold lately and this year’s plants and seeds are a few weeks behind than normal, therefore please remember that this is a general guide.

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June

June is the midpoint of the year and the days are at their longest, so plants will be enjoying the extra hours of sunlight.

Temperatures should be steadily rising and the risk of frost should have just about passed for all areas.  This is a good time for plant growth, but it is also a good time for pests and diseases to attack, so keep checking your plants.

Spring cabbages

Spring cabbages

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Vegetables and salads to harvest:

Broad beans (overwintering varieties), spinach beet and chard, peas, asparagus (traditionally up until midsummers day), globe artichokes, kohl rabi, calabrese and summer sprouting broccoli, overwintering onions, beetroot, garlic, early potatoes, cauliflowers, turnips, carrots and Florence fennel.  Lettuces, radishes, mixed salad leaves and spring onions.

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Fruit to harvest:

Strawberries and gooseberries.

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Vegetables and salads to sow:

Sprouting broccoli and calabrese, beetroot, french beans, turnips, carrots, kale, swedes, runner beans, kohl rabi, peas, spinach, perpetual spinach, fennel and swiss chard.  Pumpkins, courgettes, marrows and other squashes can be sown now still, if you are quick.

Lettuces and salad leaves (though they are harder to germinate in hot weather), mizuna, mibuna and other oriental leaves.  Rocket, spring onions, radishes.

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Things to plant:

Brassicas can be planted out, these include brussel sprouts, red and white cabbages, cauliflowers, kohl rabi, spouting broccoli, calabrese and kale.  Leeks, peas, lettuces and salad leaves can be planted too.

Also, aubergines, peppers, chillis, outdoor cucumbers, pumpkins, courgettes, marrows, patty pans, runner beans, french beans, asparagus pea, celery, celeriac, summer squashes, sweet corn, tomatoes, florence fennel, sweetcorn and sweet potatoes.

Cape gooseberries, melons and strawberries can also be planted this month, together with container grown herbs.

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Jobs to do in June:

Keep weeding and mulch with compost if the ground is damp.  Mulching will suppress the weeds and help to keep the soil moist.

Thin out any seedlings you have grown, so they have room to grow.

Earth up potatoes.

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Water if it is dry.  It is better to give a ‘good’ watering once a week, rather than water a small amount daily, as this will help the plant roots to grow deeper to find water.

Cut back herbs such as chives, mint, thyme, sage etc. to remove old leaves.  New growth will then appear with fresh leaves for you to enjoy.

After midsummers day, stop picking asparagus and give them a feed with a general purpose fertiliser.  Let them grow until autumn, then cut them down when the top growth has died and is completely brown.

When your peas or beans have stopped producing, cut down the foliage leaving the roots in the ground, as these have lots of nitrogen in their modules, which will be good for your next crops.

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Feed tomatoes when you can see their first little tomatoes forming.  Use a high potash feed, a comfrey feed is perfect for this.  See how to make a comfrey feed here.

Remove new raspberry suckers or shoots that are unwanted. If your canes become too thick and dense it stops the sunlight and air from getting to the inside canes, which can cause disease or under-developed fruit.

Prune the side shoots on grape vines and thin out fruit so remaining fruit will grow larger.

The ‘June drop’ takes place this month, but your apples and pears may need some help with this.  So thin out areas that are overcrowded so the remaining fruit will grow larger and branches won’t break with the weight of the remaining fruit.

Tie in blackberry canes.

Put up shading in your greenhouse to protect plants from the heat of the sun.

Keep pinching off the sideshoots on your tomatoes.

Remove any strawberries that have been affected by grey mould.

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June pests and diseases:

Protect your brassicas, peas, strawberries and even lettuces from pigeons, by keeping them netted.

Slugs and snails will eat newly planted seedlings. Wet weather will bring them out, especially at night.

Pick off and remove asparagus beetles and their larvae.

Flea beetles will leave tiny little holes all over leaves of radishes, rocket, beetroot and they especially like brassica seedlings. Plants do usually recover, though when they are badly affected it can stunt their growth. Keep the seedlings moist so they grow as strong as possible.

Cabbage root fly can still be a problem this month, as they lay their eggs at the base of brassicas, so it is best to fit cabbage collars around the base of them.  See here how to make your own cabbage collars.

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Remove any yellow leaves from brassicas to stop pests from hiding in them or diseases from spreading.

Check brassica’s for caterpillars.  Pick them off or squash them.

Check gooseberry and currant bushes for the sawfly larvae which look like caterpillars and pick them off. Also, check gooseberries for American gooseberry mildew.

Blackfly love the soft new growth on broad beans. As soon as the first tiny pods start to form at the base of your plants, ‘pinch off’ the top couple of inches from your broad bean plants, which will help to deter the blackfly.

Blackfly also love globe artichokes, runner beans and french beans and beetroot.  Wipe the blackfly between your fingers and thumb to squash them and/or grow sacrificial plants next to them that the black fly love more e.g. nasturtiums next to runner beans.

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Carrot flies are still around this month, so protect your crops with environ mesh.

If you haven’t already done this, lay a mulch of dry straw around your strawberries to keep your strawberries off the wet soil.  Dry straw will help to deter slugs and keep annual weeds from germinating.

Pea moth can be a problem this month.  Cover peas with a layer of fleece to protect them.

My pheromone trap

My pheromone trap

Hang pheromone traps in apple and plum trees to attract and catch the male codling moths and plum moths, to prevent them mating with a female.

Net your cherries to protect them from birds.

Check grapes for mildew and scale insects.

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Thank you for reading my blog today, I hope this post will be useful.

I will be back as usual on Friday at 4pm.  Have a good week.