Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Help Your Garden Survive a Summer Drought

August 17th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

gardening-during-a-summer-drought-can-be-a-struggle

Struggling with a summer drought is no fun, and keeping your plants quenched and happy can feel like a non-stop battle.

Don’t be a slave to the watering can!

Read on or watch the video for top tips on how to keep your garden healthy in drought conditions. They’ll save you time – and a lot of water too!

Watering

top-tips-for-saving-water-and-time-in-a-drought

Prioritise watering

When water is precious it pays to be prudent. Concentrate your watering where it is needed; young seedlings to help them establish, leafy salads to stop them wilting, fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, and anything growing in a pot.

Balance and speed

Using a watering can? Try two! One for each hand. It will help you balance and you’ll be able to water twice as quickly. If your water source is some distance from your beds, it also means less walking back and forth.

Another option is to use a portable tank, to cart water to where it will be dispensed.

Don’t blast your plants

A strong spray from a hose can knock plants about, or blast potting soil out of containers. Get around this problem simply by placing the end of the hose in a watering can so that it fills as you pour. This means you can water carefully and precisely, enjoying the convenience of a hose without wasting a drop.

Water from the bottom

Watering pots from the bottom, rather than the top, can save a lot of time and water in hot weather. Fill up a suitable sized reservoir, adding any liquid feed you’d like to apply at the recommended rate. Sink your pots into the water and leave them to soak up the liquid for at least an hour.

You can speed things along by adding a splash of water to the top of the pot before it’s left to soak. This technique helps ensure a thorough watering that makes very efficient use of your water.

Automate watering

An automatic irrigation system connected to a timer will take the strain out of watering. Set it to come on very early in the morning, before things heat up. The best set up to use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to deliver water is right at the base of your plants, near the roots.

Some can even be fitted to water barrels, so you can make the most of any rain water you’ve managed to collect.

Keep their Cool

droughts-can-play-havoc-with-seedlings-and-cause-young-plants-to-struggle

Drought can play havoc with seedlings, hampering germination and causing young plants to struggle. Here are a few ideas to help:

Success with seedlings

In hot dry conditions getting seeds to germinate can be tricky, particularly those of cool season crops such at lettuce. The solution is to wet the seed drill before sowing to give them the cool, moist surroundings they crave. Water along marked out drills, allow the water to completely drain away, then fill and drain once again before you sow.

Once you’re done sowing cover the seeds back over, but don’t water again until after germination. The moisture in the drill will drain through, encouraging the seedlings’ roots to follow.

Add some shade

Young seedlings, and cool season crops in general, perform better under the protection of some shading in hot summers. Prioritise shady areas for crops that prefer cool conditions, such as salad leaves. You can use taller crops to shade shorter ones, but in scorching weather drastic action may be needed.

Shade cloth can cast just enough shade to keep your plants happy in severe heat and can be easily removed when the weather turns cooler. Suspend it over plants to help them keep their cool.

Soothe the Soil

mulching-shades-soil-to-keep-it-cooler-and-helps-retain-moisture

Mulch around plants

Mulches are a must in any summer drought, and a mulch of organic material such as compost, leafmould or even dried grass clippings is best.

This extra layer serves two purposes; it shades the soil from the sun helping to keep it cooler, and it acts as a barrier to the sun, dramatically slowing evaporation.

How to apply a mulch

Thoroughly soak the ground before adding your mulch. If it’s exceptionally dry, water again a few hours later to recharge all that valuable soil moisture. Lay the mulch so it’s at least an inch (2 cm) thick and feed it right around all your plants.

Fruit trees, canes and bushes can be mulched with chunkier materials such as bark chippings, or fibrous materials like straw. Mulches may not be very high-tech, but they are incredibly effective in a hot summer.

 

If you have any tips for gardening in a hot, dry climate, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Growing Cabbages from Sowing to Harvest

July 30th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

A vegetable plot isn’t complete without cabbage. Shredded, stir-fried, steamed or baked, there’s not much you can’t do with one! And with a little planning it’s even possible to enjoy cabbages year round.

Read on or watch the video to find out more about growing cabbages.

 

Types of Cabbage

From green to Savoy, there’s a fantastic range of cabbage varieties to choose from, offering different shapes, colours and textures.

Cabbages are grouped according to when they’re harvested. Spring cabbages are ready from mid to late spring. Summer cabbages crop from summer into early autumn, while autumn cabbages and winter varieties cover the remainder of the year. Savoy cabbages have a long harvest period, stretching from autumn all the way through winter to early spring.

 

Where to Grow Cabbage

Many cabbage varieties will tolerate below-freezing temperatures. But for the healthiest growth they need an open, sunny site and rich soil. A bed improved with compost or well-rotted manure is ideal, and will appreciate a further boost in the form of an organic general-purpose fertiliser raked into the ground at planting time.

In a traditional crop rotation cabbages follow on from peas or beans, which naturally lock nitrogen away at their roots. Left in the ground when the crop is cleared, these roots will help to feed the cabbages that follow.

Unless your soil is naturally alkaline, sprinkle garden lime onto the soil either after you’ve dug it over, or rake it in at planting time.

 

How to Sow Cabbage

Cabbages may be started off in an outdoor seedbed to transplant once they’re bigger, or under cover into modules or pots, which also enables an earlier start to the season.

Prepare seedbeds by treading on the ground in a shuffling motion before raking to a fine tilth for sowing.

When you sow depends on what type of cabbage you’re growing. Summer cabbages are the first to be sown, in mid spring, followed by autumn and winter types later on in spring. Spring cabbages are sown from the second half of summer to harvest the following year.

Mark out drills about half an inch (1cm) deep and 6 inches (15cm) apart. You can use a string line to ensure nice, straight rows. Sow the seeds thinly along the row then cover over and water. Keep the soil moist. Thin the seedlings once they’re up to one every couple of inches (5cm).

Under cover, start seeds off in plug trays of all-purpose potting soil. Sow two to three seeds per cell about half an inch (1cm) deep. After they’ve germinated, thin to leave just one seedling per cell. Or sow into trays or pots then transfer the best seedlings into individual cells or pots to grow on.

 

Transplanting Cabbage

You-can-sow-cabbages-in-soil-trays-or-pots-Transplant-cabbages-when-they-have-at-least-three-or-four-adult-leaves

The seedlings are ready to transplant about six weeks after sowing, by which time they should have grown at least three to four adult leaves. Make sure spring cabbages are transplanted no later than early autumn, so they can establish before winter bites.

Plant your seedlings into prepared ground. Leave about 18 inches (45cm) between each seedling. Additional rows of spring or summer cabbage should be set around the same distance apart, while autumn and winter types need a little more space between rows – about 2 feet (60cm) is ideal.

Firm your cabbages into the ground well, then water generously to settle the soil around the roots. Seedlings transplanted from a seedbed should be lifted up with as much soil around their roots as possible. This avoids unnecessary root disturbance, helping the seedlings to quickly adapt to their new growing positions.

 

Caring for Cabbage

Cabbages are prone to attack from pigeons and caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly, also known as cabbageworms. Wire mesh will protect seedlings against pigeons, but to stop butterflies from laying their eggs on the leaves it’s best to use netting during the summer months.

Another clever technique is to grow nasturtiums close by as a sacrificial crop, also known as a trap crop. Caterpillars prefer nasturtiums, so they’ll be more likely to eat these instead of your cabbages. Mint can be used to help deter flea beetles.

Continue to water cabbages as they grow. Ensure they have all the space and nutrients they need by carefully weeding between plants with a hoe or by hand. Winter cabbages are very hardy but during exceptionally cold weather they may need some form of cold protection such as a row cover tunnel or cloche. In very cold regions, growing cabbages in a greenhouse or cold frame is a great way to guarantee a winter-safe crop.

 

How to Harvest Cabbage

Use a sharp knife to cut your cabbages once the heads have firmed up. Savoy and other winter cabbages benefit from a light frost to bring out their flavour. Spring cabbages may be harvested young and loose as greens for repeated cutting, or left to grow on to form a tight head of leaves. Either way is totally delicious!

If you have a variety you’d particularly recommend, or perhaps another tip for growing cabbages, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.