June 4: Time to move things outside
All summer bedding and hanging baskets should be safe to put outside now. When planting bedding plants out in the garden or containers it is worth remembering to firm the plants in well, as they have a tendency to lift out of the compost and dry out. Keep an eye on the compost levels also in pots and containers as it often settles and may need topping up. Deadhead your plants regularly; it makes them flower for longer. Use a high-potassium fertiliser every week to keep the blooms coming or use fertiliser sticks or pellets, but these will need topping up every month.
• Cucumbers in the greenhouse should be well established by now, if you have not got an all-female variety you will need to nip off the male flowers. Conqueror and Telegraph both produce male flowers which if not removed will pollinate the female flowers and produce bitter and twisted fruit. Start to train the plants up canes and tie them in. This can be done espalier-style, nip out the tips two leaves beyond the embryo fruit. Gather any fallen leaves or yellowing leaves to help prevent the spread of diseases such as botrytis.
• Sweetcorn that was sown indoors back in April will now be ready to plant out. Plant in blocks as this improves pollination. The runner bean plants that have been hardening off in the cold frame can also be planted out now. I have used some 2.4-metre canes to build a wigwam-type structure to support them. Beans and peas need to be planted into well-manured ground as they like a lot of moisture and they are heavy feeders. Plant out Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli and winter cauliflowers, Plant in soil that has been treated with lime as this will help to reduce the occurrence of club root. Brassicas should be planted on ground that has been enriched with bulky manure in the past for previous crops.
• Keep a keen eye on the veg garden as many of the seeds sown in the past few weeks will be ready for thinning out to the recommended spacing. If the seedlings are not thinned they will become crowded and weak. The young leaves of lettuce and spinach –even beetroot leaves – can be used for an early salad.
• During damp weather all the slugs and snails come out to party! They may not move fast but they can do a lot of damage to your plants in one night. Hostas are the caviar of the snail world but lettuce is just as nice. The best method of control without doubt is to squash them but this method is not for everyone, so I like to use beer traps – cheap and easy to make and they die happy.
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• Now is the time to get the tomatoes planted in growbags, pots or in the border in an unheated greenhouse. Water them freely and mist the flowers regularly with warm water or tap the stems with a cane, to help disperse pollen and set fruits. Don't start feeding with high potash fertiliser until the bottom truss begins to swell, weekly feeds of tomato fertiliser will boost the crop and tie in stems as needed. Ensure the greenhouse is ventilated well during warm days, and use a fan to circulate the air if you can.
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