Tuesday, 12 June 2012 9:52 AM
By Old Geezer
The weather has been all over the place – as if you hadn't noticed! The plants certainly have, some are doing really well while others definitely aren't happy. I haven't been able to do as much as I would have liked in the garden, but all-in-all the veggie plot isn't looking too bad.
Some jobs just have to be done if you want fresh veggies. I always sow things like swedes and turnips too close together, so I have to thin them out before they get too big. It's ideal to do this when rain is forecast, so a lot of opportunities over the next few weeks!
I have left the seedlings of the swedes about an inch apart, so they will need thinning out again to about six inches. By doing it in stages I'm able to select the best plants, hopefully producing decent swedes for those winter stews.
The turnips can be left at about an inch apart as they will push themselves out to the side. They are best eaten at golf ball size or slightly larger. Pulling a few out early will take care of the final thinning.
Other things to keep an eye on, if like me you got a bit excited by the early spring and sowed your beetroot too early, no doubt some will be 'bolting'.
This is simply an expression for going to seed prematurely, if you see a beetroot plant with a distinct stem and leaves growing out of this stem, pull it out and add it to the compost heap.
Keep an eye on your onions, if you spot a little white conical 'hat' on a central stem pinch it off, leaving the stem to act as an extra leaf. The onion will still be fine to use, it won't store, but if used within a couple of weeks of harvest will be as good as the others.
The other little job is to take the growing points out of the broad beans. The first reason for doing this is that removing leaves discourages any black fly who may have been looking to set up home there. The other reason is that it will result in the first baby beans growing where the leaves were.
The plant will put all its efforts into producing beans rather than continuing to grow and flower.
That's not the final job; the peas in my garden have grown much more than usual so they need some attention, a bit of extra support will do the trick. Although the plants are lush the flowers are relatively few. This topsy-turvy weather certainly makes gardening tough.
If you haven't planted your tomatoes yet, then it's worth getting them out too. You'll need plenty of compost and wet rotten stuff is ideal, better than the classic type normally advocated. Dig out a trench a couple of spades wide and a spade deep. Break up the bottom then add the rotten plant material, dig it in with a spade, gently tread it down (whilst ensuring you leave some space in the trench) and then soak it.
When it's settled, fill your trench and pop your plants in, two feet apart. Plant next to a stake as pushing a stake in later will damage roots. A little water to settle the plant in should be all else that is needed.