Summr gardening and Christmas

Summer gardening and Christmas! by Andrew Trott

Woohoo..!! Summer is finally here. It is hard to believe that we had so much rain over spring this year. Hopefully that is all behind us and we can look forward to enjoying the longer summer days, barbecues and spending more time just pottering around in the garden.

This month you can plant more salad vegetables such as lettuces, capsicums, spring onions, tomatoes, basil and radishes. You can also sow more seeds of beetroot, carrots, dwarf beans and sweet corn. If there is any room left in the vegie garden sow a row or two of swedes for use next winter.

To save a bit of space in the garden, train cucumbers up tepee frames. Loosely tie them to the frame every 30cms or so. This gives the plant a good airflow and keeps the cucumbers off the ground. Although the tepee might be nearly 2m high, the cucumbers will probably grow right up to the top of the frame then about halfway back to the ground again.

When you have dug up the first row of early potatoes, replant that row with leeks for use next winter. Plant the leeks in two lines along the row where the potatoes were, as the soil will be deeply dug and friable. The two rows of leeks should be about 10cms apart and the seedlings staggered at 10cms apart along those rows. You will be surprised at how many leeks you can plant that way. Sow 3 or 4 rows of sweetcorn seeds. As it matures, corn will germinate better in a block rather than in a single row. Sow the seeds about 2cms deep and about 20cms apart.

As the tomatoes grow give them regular feeds. I water around the roots of plants with worm tea from our worm farm. Pick out the laterals from the tomato plants. The laterals are the new shoots that appear on a 45 degree angle where the leaf joins the main stem. When the tomato plant reaches about a metre tall cut off the leaves nearest the ground, leaving the first 30 to 40cms above ground free of leaves. This helps the air to circulate through the plant and makes access to the plant a little harder for any hungry snails that might be lurking around.

Another couple of summer tips:-

After a good, deep watering spread a thick layer of mulch between the rows of vegies. Even grass clippings are okay to use as mulch, so long as the lawns have not been sprayed recently. This will help to retain moisture where it is needed, around the roots of plants. Do not water plants in the heat of the day. Not only will most of the water evaporate before it reaches the roots of plants, but water droplets can burn the foliage of leafy plants by acting as a miniature magnifying glass. Water the garden in the evenings so that the moisture has time to reach the roots of the plants before the sun comes up the next day. In summer the vegies can even be planted a little closer together to help retain soil moisture and choke off weeds.

This is my last vegetable gardening article, so in signing off I would like to say thank you to all of the staff at MCA, and especially to Robyn who has provided titles and photos for these gardening articles over the past 5 years.

Have a great Christmas and Happy Gardening.