What To Do In The Garden In June

June 1st, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

June Gardening - Hanging BasketsJune is open season in the garden, pretty much anything goes this month. Summer baskets and patio containers can be safely put on show, and beds and borders can be filled with your favourite summer flowers. All plants raised indoors or under glass through spring can now be planted out. Harvesting of your earliest vegetable sowings will begin in earnest and further sowing can be made outside.  With space becoming available in greenhouses and on windowsills you can start to plan sowings of biennials and perennials for next year’s displays,  and winter bedding can be sown ready for planting out in autumn.
Watering, weeding and feeding become essential jobs this month, and if you grow fruit and vegetables you’ll need to start thinking about protecting your crops from hungry birds.  Rolls of netting, fruit cages and net tunnel cloches will need to be called on.

We have a wide range of tips and advice to keep you more than busy through June, but don’t forget to take the time to sit back and enjoy the rewards of all your hard labours of spring as summer sets the garden underway.


Night Phlox Midnight Candy - June GardeningIn the flower garden

Still time to sow fast annuals
Running behind on the sowing season? There is still time to sow fast flowering hardy annuals in pots or borders for colour in as little as 6-8 weeks. If it’s fast colour you are after, sow the following in the next week or so: nasturtiums, night phlox, calendula, poached egg plant, swan river daisy, Californian poppy

Sowing perennials
A mix of hardy herbaceous perennials is an essential element in any successful border planting, adding seasonal shape, colour and interest for many years with minimal upkeep.

Costly as container-grown plants, perennials are no more difficult to start from seed than the more commonly sown hardy annuals. So for the relatively low cost of a few packets of seed you can plant up large areas with perennial permanence. You will also find varieties in our perennial seed range that are rarely, if ever, available to buy as mature plants. If you are looking for an extra special perennial for your garden borders and patio containers you really have to start with seed.

By sowing perennial flower seed in June, plants have time to put on good foliage and root growth before resting over winter. This gives them the reserves to grow strongly the following spring and offer good floral colour through the first summer and many more to come.

With so many to choose from, here is our top 10 perennial picks to give you a taste:

Carnation Picotee Fantasy Mix striking blend of scented stripes and picotees
Hardy Geranium Splish Splash – Masses of large striped blooms
Scabious Border Mixed Seeds – attracts bees and butterflies
Veronica Rose Tones – Good for borders and cutting
Echinacea PowWow Wild Berry – essential late season colour
Aubrietia Cascade Mixed – beautiful spring flower cushions
Delphinium Pacific Giants Mixed – tall elegant spires
Lupin Russell Mixed – Impressive early summer colour
Meconopsis alba – spectacular white flowered form of Himalayan poppy
Iceland poppy superb in cottage gardens

All Mr Fothergill’s seeds come with sowing and growing instructions, but for more detail read our handy sowing guide here

Interestingly, many of the shorter lived perennials are better treated as biennials, looking best in their second year and losing their lustre in their third and fourth years. Aquilegia, hollyhocks, lupins, sweet williams and many other popular perennials can be raised this way for better garden displays. We will look at biennials more closely next month.


Antirrhinum Candelabra™ Mixed F1 Plants - June GardeningTop tips for heavenly hanging baskets

Nothing shouts summer like a stunning hanging basket displays. Get the best from your baskets this summer with our simple tips for success:

  • Always use the largest basket and best quality compost that fits your budget
  • Mix water retaining gel with compost to get plants through the heat of the day
  • Mix slow release fertiliser with the compost or offer regular liquid feeds
  • A good planting rule for baskets with side planting is 1 plant per diameter inch, so for a 12in basket use 12 plants.
  • Halve this for baskets with no side planting capacity (6 plants to a 12in basket)
  • Add upright plants in the centre and trailing plants around the side.
  • Add one or two foliage plants for extra interest and texture
  • Remove the first flowers after planting up. Plants will concentrate on rooting and branching for a short period, and better flowering will occur as a result
  • Water regularly – at least once a day during peak of summer, and best done early morning or late evening
  • While watering, remove any spent flowers to prevent seeding and encourage a succession of blooms right through summer.
  • Add a basket tomato plant to your displays for an extra treat through summer.
  • Baskets can be heavy – do not water them until they are hung safely in place.

Gardening Weeding - JuneOther jobs for June:
Weed Control
Keep borders weed free with regular  hoeing of any open soil, and inspect closely around the base of ornamental plants – weeds have an annoying habit of quietly establishing right in the crown of prized border plants, making their removal difficult if deep roots are allowed to develop.
Planting out
Early June onwards is the time to plant for seasonal summer displays. All frost tender plants raised under glass through spring can now be put on show. To get the best from your summer borders see our handy planting guide here.
Slug and snail patrol
We’ve all fallen foul of slugs and snails in the garden. They hit indiscriminately, both in the border and the vegetable patch – even patio pot plants aren’t safe! Keep slugs from your prized plants this summer with one or more of the following:
Slug Pellets: Try to avoid chemical versions; bird-safe organic pellets are available and just as effective.

Material barrier: Get rid of slugs without killing them with Slug Gone. These wool pellets are placed around plants to fluff up and create a barrier or irritating fibres that the slugs won’t pass over.

Beer traps: Slugs dip in for a drink and can’t get back out again. Effective but a horrible mess to pour away!

‘Citrus shells’: Place your finished breakfast grapefruit or half a scooped out orange upside down in the border – slugs will gather below it and you can destroy them as you see fit.

Copper tape: Place copper tape around patio pots to create a barrier that slugs don’t like to pass over (they can still get through drainage holes though!).

Porridge oats: Place a dish of oats outside for the slugs to eat. It will expand once eaten, killing off the slugs.
Natural nematodes: Nemyslug is a natural biological control employing microscopic nematodes to do the nasty work for you. It is simply mixed into watering can and applied to soils every six weeks.


Veg patch - June GardeningOn the veg patch

Plant out half hardy and tender vegetable plants
Half hardy and frost tender vegetables raised under glass through spring can be planted out in earnest this month. It pays to acclimatise them first – frosts may be gone, but cold winds can still do damage. Place plants outside by day and move back under cover each evening for a few days before planting in the final positions.
Make a second tender sowing
Having planted out you can make another sowing for a second, later harvest.
Courgettes, squash, French beans, runner beans, sweet corn and tender herbs can all be direct sown this month.
Tips for tender veg:

  • Don’t plant too many courgettes – 2 or 3 plants should be plenty for an average household
  • Plant sweet corn in blocks rather than rows to improve pollination and cob setting
  • Plant dwarf beans in blocks rather than rows so the plants help support each other.
  • Give pumpkins and squashes plenty of room for their vine-like ground growth. For the largest pumpkins and squashes, pinch out all new flowers after 3 or 4 fruits have set.
  • Make sure to give peppers, tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, cucumbers and melons the sunniest spot when growing them outside, ideally sheltered from cold winds.

Other vegetables to sow outdoors this month:
Beetroot, carrots, broccoli, kale, peas, and salad leaves, spring onions,  swede, Swiss chard, turnips, winter cabbage, radish, endives, lettuce, Oriental leaves, radish, spinach.
For the longest harvest window and freshest crops from your summer vegetables, divide the remaining growing space to allow furthers sowings every two weeks through to mid-July. This should keep you picking into October- and possibly right through winter with hardy types.


In the greenhouse
Greenhouse crops should be in their final positions now.
In the Mr Fothergill’s polytunnel we grow our tomatoes cucumbers and melons in 10 litre bucket pots, but good results can also be had in growing bags.
We grow all our peppers and chillies in small 3 litre pots and then set these into growing bags, three per bag. The plants soon root through the pots into the bags which act as a feed and water reservoir. We have had our best ever results since adopting this method, and we urge you to give it a try.


Try something different: Three sisters planting
Take a tip from the Native Americans who grew sweet corn, pumpkins and climbing beans together in a symbiotic relationship, known as three sisters planting. A pumpkin is planted in the centre, surrounded by a block of sweet corn and a bean plant is added next to each sweet corn. Each vegetable draws on a different key nutrient to maintain growth, avoiding any major competition, and each helps the other in different ways:

  • Pumpkins (or squashes if you prefer) shade the soil and retain moisture with their large leaves
  • Sweet corn provides a climbing support for the beans
  • Beans fix nitrogen in the soil helping support the other two crops

Succession Planting: How to Harvest More From Your Vegetable Garden [video]

June 25th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Succession Planting - Nation of Gardeners SaladSuccession planting allows you to make the most of your garden, by enjoying multiple harvests from a single patch of ground in any growing season. It takes careful planning and this post will guide you through the process of succession planting.

  • Succession cropping is the sowing/planting of one crop, immediately following an early crop has finished. This particular method of growing increases productivity.
  • Succession planting maintains soil cover from the constant sowing of crops, provides less opportunity for weeds to appear.
  • Many vegetables need only half the growing season to reach harvest. This leaves plenty of fine weather to start a new crop.
  • Vegetables that may finish early enough for a succession crop are; french beans, salads, early potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and beetroot.
  • After clearing the first crop, clean the ground of any weeds and use a rake to break any clumps.
  • As your previous crop should have been covered with organic matter, your second crop shouldn’t require anymore. But if it does, add compost before sowing or planting.
  • Aim to have your young plants and seeds for second crop in immediately following the removal of first crop seeds.
  • Some crops may be need to be planted from young plants if the growing season in your area is relatively short. You can find our range of vegetable plants here.
  • If you feel the ground is too warm and dry before sowing, you can water the seed drills before sowing. This will cool the ground.

These are just a few tips and tricks on succession planting, the video below offers further detail and a list of plants that are suitable for this method of planting. If you have any tips yourself, do let us know in the comments below or on our social media. 

Succession Planting: How to Harvest More From Your Vegetable Garden

 

Foxglove time

June 23rd, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Foxglove 'Dalmatian Mixed'

I know, of course, that you can pop down to the garden centre about now and still buy foxglove plants in flower. But foxgloves are biennials or, at best short lived perennials, and what do you think is going to happen to those foxglove plants that you buy (often starved) in flower in pots? After they’ve flowered they’ll probably just fade away.

You know the answer: grow your own. And when you can buy two or three packets of seed for the price of one plant in the last phase of its life – well, why wouldn’t you? And now’s the time.

Foxgloves come in two main groups: those whose packets contain hundreds, or even thousands, of seeds and those whose packet contents are measured more in the tens.

In the first group comes the tall slightly unpredictable ‘Excelsior Mixed’, its shorter cousin ‘Foxy Mixed’, the boldly blotched ‘Pam’s Choice’ and the wild foxglove. These you can sow now, outside, in a seed bed. You’ll find guidance with the details of the individual varieties.

You get far fewer seeds of ‘Dalmatian Mixed’ (above, available at a fat discount, as I write) and the lovely ‘Dalmatian Peach’ because they’re far more expensive to produce. These are best sown in pots where it’s easier to keep an eye on them.

And how do you keep them flowering for an extra year or two? Feeding and watering while they’re developing and very prompt dead-heading followed by a good soak and a liquid feed. Actually, the VERY best way is to cut off the first flowering spikes altogether – but I doubt I can persuade you to do that…

Garden Trellis – How to Make the Best Supports for Climbing Vegetables [video]

June 22nd, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Garden Trellis Support for Climbing VegetablesClimbing vegetables need plenty of support to ensure they offer up fruitful harvests. Garden trellis is a effective and attractive method of keeping climbing vegetables well supported. This post discusses how to make the best supports for climbing vegetables.

  • Simple supports include bamboo canes, poles and stakes. If they have been securely pushed into the ground, they offer an immediate support for vining plants.
  • Some young plants may at first need tying into supports, this will ensure they grow up in the correct direction.
  • Canes and poles can be arranged in rows, with a cane along the top to provide structure.
  • Tie in the canes where they cross with string.
  • You can also create a wigwam or teepee. Space 4 – 8 canes at equal distance in a circle then tie these together about a foot from the top. These are perfect for climbing vegetables.
  • Trellis panels can also be used to support climbing vegetables. They can be screwed to walls and fences or alternatively be left to hang freely.

You can create the perfect bamboo frame with the instructions below:

To make your own bamboo frame you’ll need:

  • Two short lengths of 2×2 inch timber at 32 inches long
  • Two medium lengths of 1×2 inch timber at 5 foot
  • Two longer length of 2×2 inch timber at 7 foot 4 inches
  • Two 4 inch screws
  • Four, 2.5 inch screws
  • 12 bamboo canes at least 7 foot in length
  • Garden wire
  • Screwdriver, drill, sandpaper, pencil, measuring tape

To create the frame

1. Sand down any rough edges on the timber.

2. Put together the top of the frame, using the short and medium length sections

3. Prevent the wood from splitting by drilling pilot holes, 1 inch in from both ends of the two medium length sections.

4. Screw these to the end of the short lengths with the 2.5 inch screws.

5. Measure and mark halfway along the two shortest sides of the top section. Drill pilot holes through these two points.

6. Screw the top section of your frame to the longer lengths of timber, using the 4 inch screws.

7. Dig two holes to accommodate the frame, holes should be at least a foot deep. Lift into position and back fill the holes, firm the soil so the frame stays in place.

8.Set the bamboo canes in position with the frame. Evenly place them in soil along the frame and tie them securely to the top bar.

9. Now plant the beans, one to each bamboo cane.

10. The stems will then latch onto the frames and grow upwards.

This is just a quick tutorial on creating your bamboo frame, the video below offers further detail and a visual representation of building the frame. Be sure to let us know any tips you have for supporting your climbing vegetables. 

GrowVeg – Garden Trellis – How to Make the Best Supports for Climbing Vegetables

 

 

More bees have flown into Mr Fothergill’s headquarters in Kentford

June 20th, 2017 | News | 0 Comments

A few months ago, our Technical Manager Alison Mulvaney moved her beehive to the Mr Fothergill’s trial ground. You can read more about that here on a previous post. Now, Alison has moved in a second hive to the trial grounds at Kentford!

A plea went out to Alison to come and collect a swarm that had started to make its home in a chimney.  The swarm proved impossible to extract from the chimney so, with the assistance of a cherry picker, the cowl was collected along with the bees, placed in a cardboard box and wrapped in an old sheet.  The whole lot was then put into a plastic clip box for transport, so that it could be transported to Alison’s home.

Alison talks through how she moved the bees into their new home:

“Once I got it home I shook as many bees as possible into their new home and left the cowl in front of the hive, using the sheet as a ramp for the stragglers to walk in.  The chimney cowl, box and sheets were then returned to the original owner as the farmer wanted the cowl back on his chimney!”

 

Since their subsequent move to the trial grounds at Kentford, the colony have settled in well.   They are already producing new comb and laying eggs to build up their numbers. We look forward to seeing how our new residents get on, and will keep you updated on their progress as they settle into their new home.

If you have any top tips on beekeeping to help guide us, then please leave us a message in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

Watering Your Vegetable Garden: How to Water Plants for Healthier Growth [video]

June 19th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Salad - Watering Your Vegetable GardenSummer brings rapid growth to the vegetable garden, but warmer days mean plants need to be kept hydrated. Here are some tips on keeping the vegetable garden moist and content. This post goes into detail on watering your vegetable garden. 

  • Many gardeners will water more often than necessary. In time, this can create shallow roots for plants. This means they depend on your for more water.
  • A way to prevent this is to water less often. Allowing the roots to grow deeper and then be less dependent on your watering.
  • In drier weather, prioritise seedlings over established plants. These need more water until they develop their root systems.
  • Some crops need more water than others; leafy salads and celery. Others appreciate extra water in certain development stages; peas, beans, tomatoes, squashes and cucumbers.
  • Tall plants such as climbing beans with draw a lot of moisture from the soil so will need significantly more watering than other crops.
  • Parsnips and carrots are drought resistant due to the length of their roots.
  • The technique you use when watering your vegetable garden is important. Apply water as close to the roots as possible. Also avoid wetting the foliage as this can promote disease.
  • A watering can, can help you to get in between the plants foliage.
  • Never water in the middle of the day, when the moisture will quickly evapourate.
  • Drip irrigation is the most effective method of emitting water close to the roots. Adding a timer to this can ensure that plants get watered in the morning and in the evening.

These are just a few tips on watering your vegetable garden, the video below offers further advice and detailed techniques to keeping the vegetable garden thriving. 

 

GrowVeg – Watering Your Vegetable Garden: How to Water Plants for Healthier Growth