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Something for the Weekend #11

"Pinch out the growing side shoots of tomatoes, tie in and feed once a week. When it is really hot, water the soil every morning so the soil is moist. Sow beans, kale, radish, carrots and beetroot. Pinch off growing tips of squash and courgettes. Harvest herbs and sow more basil. Chop chives, fennel and marjoram back hard to refresh the growth. Thin fruit trees of their fruit - we had such a still spring and the blossom stayed for weeks so we were always in for a bumper harvest. Allow each fruit to swell, air to circulate and reduce weight on the branches. Create new strawberry plants from runners and gather in those salads, greens and beans."

I've managed to forget about the heat wave already; looking towards another warm week and doing what I can to nurture the gardens here through it.

Many annuals have flowered and gone to seed very quickly, so over the next week, I will clear these, replacing with green manures (more on this later this summer) and some salad leaves to fill the gaps, keeping the soil covered at all times.

The long border was fulsome and lush until this week. Even the weeds have shrunk back revealing the soil (which I haven't seen since the spring). Yesterday I pulled all the remaining weeds, chopped back scorched leaves and flowers and gave a generous watering. I have had some surprises at which plants have seemingly thrived through the heat - I expected achillea to do well here but it has all but died now. When plants have got this stressed, it is better to lift, compost and start again. I will sow plants for next year now.

On the picking list are plants that have survived the heat, which are not many this week! echinops, sweet peas, gaura, nicotiana, scabious, coreopsis, fennel, oregano and dahlias.

Three for the Weekend

1. Sowing

Today I am sowing herbs and greens - for quick summer salads and the beginnings of the autumn and winter leaves. I get mine from Vital Seeds. On other patches that have been cleared of spring crops or early summer flowers, I have sown phacelia and mustard as a green manure to add organic matter and replenish the soil of nutrients.

2. Chop back

Even if you miss another flowering, most early summer flowering plants like alchemilla mollis and geraniums look pretty crispy now so give these a good chop back and water. They will grow back with a soft pillow of leaves and soften your late summer borders. Keep deadheading flowers and cutting deep into plants to encourage flowering. We have had such a sunny and hot early summer already, but there is still another 10 good weeks of flowering for a lot of plants - don't let them run to seed. Good deep watering at least once a week and a feed helps too.

3. Fruit Trees

It was clear from the warm still spring with little rain or wind to blow off the blossoms, that we'd have a bumper fruit harvest. It's a little too bumper though and the apple trees especially are heavy with crops. We are beginning to take back the tips of the branches to reduce the weight - we didn't prune hard last year. Usually the tree would drop fruit naturally but we still have lots on there. Remove all but one apple every 6" or so to allow to swell and air to move through the tree. I will save any pruning and shred to add to the compost piles.


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