Wednesday, 10 June 2015

June Ramblings

The first few days of June came in with grey skies, cool weather, and the hope of rain... which soon reverted back to blue skies, hot days, and no hope of rain.

One would generally think that would be reason to celebrate with much happy, happy, joy, joy... However, such is not the case here on the island. Our very dry winter and very dry spring has resulted in water restrictions a month earlier than usual, with bone dry garden beds and loads of heat!

If we can keeps things watered though, we and the gardens will thrive. All this lovely heat! My flip flop tan has been in place for weeks already ; ) 

My veggie washing station....
and the Red Ribbons tree form rose showing off it's colours.

What to do this month in the garden...

Water! .... Carefully : )
 I really like these flat weeping hoses with the canvas outer layer...
I find that the round weepers often get holes in them, very easily ... 
and then they blow huge holes into the garden beds!

Set up good drip watering system or weeping hoses and then mulch like mad to help retain moisture. These hoses/drip systems water at ground level, root level, and water deeply, thus lessening the number of times you need to water, with little to no evaporation or waste.

These slow drip methods penetrate deep into the ground, encouraging your vegetables to create great deep feeder roots. The process of watering deep and then allowing them go dry for a bit causes the roots to go in search of their own water source, while daily surface watering causes surface roots. The deeply rooted veggies will thrive, even in times of water restrictions and drought. 

How often do you need to water? Less than you think! As long as you water deeply when you do water...

Veggies like onions, carrots, beets (root crops), peas, beans, cole crops, and potatoes only need one good soak a week.
Tomatoes, cukes, kale and squash will need a good soak about every third or fourth day, but will also be fine with just once a week, if well mulched.     
Spinach, lettuce, radishes, and more, will need water every third day or so, however, may bolt if not kept shaded, cool and moist. Perhaps eliminate these guys when they bolt, and plant again in August or September instead?

Water in the morning, if you can, to further prevent evaporation, plus prevent fungal issues and risk of blight. If you must water in the evening, be very cautious to water at ground level only and not get the foliage wet. 

Water at ground level only... avoid wetting foliage.  

I actually really enjoy hand watering as I find it very peaceful and soul soothing. It also allows me to have a peek at what is going on in the garden while I water ... Radishes starting to bolt? Something being eaten by bugs? Time to pick those strawberries?! What is thriving, what is not ...

However, in times of drought like this, is best to save the hand watering for seeds and seedlings only, as they are at surface level, have no roots, and so require a daily soak to keep them moist for germination to occur. Do not let your newly sown seeds dry out during germination.   

Strawberries are ripening very quickly in this lovely heat. In order to keep them fruiting and the berries to be plump and sweet and juicy, water every second or third day, if possible. This applies to all berries when in season.

Still time to sow these seeds now ...

Veggies ...(from seed)

- Lettuce and spinach, sow new seeds often as they often bolt in the heat. If you have a part shade, shady bed, these guys will thrive in it. 
- Try another row or two of peas, esp if you have a part shade bed

- Add another row or two of beets
- Beans love this heat, plant lots
- Carrots
- Calabrese and other broccoli's

- Swede and turnips
- Corn
- Cucumbers
- Zucchini and other squashes

Herbs... (from seed)

- Basil
- Cilantro ... sow a few seeds every few weeks as they bolt in the heat.
- Dill, yum! Keep planting dill ; )
- Parsley

Flowers... (yep, also from seed)

- Cosmos
- Nasturtiums
- Sunflowers! 
- Zinnias! One can never have enough zinnias. Sow seeds till end month for a burst of colour in fall.

What else to do this month?

Lift your garlic!
I know it is a few weeks early, but check your garlic now! This year has been so warm and dry that the garlic is ready much sooner than usual.

Lift when the bottom three leaves are brown/yellow. Do not leave it longer even if you think your bulbs are too small. Leaving them in the ground too long will not make them get bigger, sadly, it will make them open and more prone to rot.

Each leaf on the garlic stem is actually a wrapper, a layer of skin on the bulb... if you allow too many to yellow, the garlic will lose all it's wrappers. An open garlic bulb will not cure for storage and must be used up within a few weeks. There is nothing wrong with the garlic, it just will not store. If you have many of these smiling bulbs, chop them up and freeze them.

For more information on garlic and how to cure it for storage, please see HERE!

Hill those spuds! Try to hill your potatoes twice each spring.

As the tops get 6 inches tall, cover them with soil, leaving just the 2" showing.
After the second time, you can leave them be, water once a week, and harvest early baby spuds for Mid-Summer! (Summer Solstice)

Feed tomatoes and peppers with Epsom salt once a month, especially if grown in pots. 
See the last post on organic feeding for more ideas on how to keep your tomatoes and other veggies thriving this summer.  

More specialised tomato and pepper growing information in a few days time... stay tuned.  

Till then, happy gardening, drink lots of water, water wisely, and harvest gleefully. 

May Garden Ramblings

Well, here we are, it is finally the month of May... the busiest planting month of the year. This is when everything happens! We will a...