Welcome to Lee’s gardening advice for June 2021 written for Fethiye Times by local resident and keen gardener, Lee Stevenson (aka An English Gardener in Çalış).
Water Water Water!
Now that the warmer weather is well and truly with us, you may think there’s nothing more to do than water your plants and then water them some more to get the best out of them. Apart from watering, you can still be growing from seed or, if you haven’t got the time, from cuttings or small plants. I recently took cuttings from one of my dahlia’s that had become lost underneath a larger shrub, placed them in water and within two weeks there was enough root growth to pot on in a small pot (roughly two inches across) that will be its home until I decide where to plant it out in the garden. Dahlias can also be grown successfully in pots.
If you would like to have a go at taking cuttings from any shrub, cut at an angle and remove any lower leaves. Also, it’s a good idea to cut the top off so the cutting can concentrate on producing roots and not leaves. Dip your cutting in water, sprinkle cinnamon powder on the end that’s going into the soil and keep the soil moist for two weeks. You can also cover the cutting with a clear plastic bag to keep in the moisture. Cuttings that can be rooted in water include dahlia’s, tomatoes, ivy and fig, I would suggest changing the water every three days and keeping the cuttings out of the full sun.
Edibles that can still be grown from seed include the following; radish(should germinate within 3 days and be large enough to eat within three weeks), cucumbers -or you can buy seedlings at the markets, beetroot (one seed may have as many as five plants so you might need to thin out the weakest looking), lettuce, pea’s, aubergine, squash (pumpkins, courgettes etc), sweetcorn & winter vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and carrots.
Flowers that are not too late to grow from seed in June include marigolds, cosmos, zinnias and sunflowers. Why not have a go at trying to grow a really tall sunflower, it’s not like we don’t get enough sun here.
If you want your vegetables to look a bit more attractive than just green why not try growing Swiss chard, a very versatile vegetable that comes in many colours. You can use the leaves and young stalks in salads and when they grow larger, use the leaves as you would spinach.
Apart from watering plants, it helps (especially with hungry plants like tomatoes) to feed them at least every two weeks. Once the first fruits start to appear, mix plant feed with your normal watering and you will get more fruits – or if feeding flowers more flower buds.
Sun in a flower
There is more than just the normal ‘yellow’ sunflower that we know and love – as do the pollinators. There is all manor of colours and sizes available and I have seen several different types growing here in Fethiye. I myself grow four different types, teddy bear mini, your standard yellow, harlequin and giant red. Harlequin is my favourite as it produces as many as 40 flower heads of different shades of yellow on one plant. It’s also an attraction to the goldfinches once the seeds have set so it not only helps feed the pollinators but also the local birds.
Reuse those plastic bottles
To help keep plants watered, plastic bottles have more uses than I suggested last month. Use a small drill bit or metal hole punch to make small holes in the bottom, or if you prefer a sprinkler make holes around the middle, and fix the bottle top end to a garden well hose using a jubilee clip to help keep it in place. I find that one-litre bottles are the best size for this.
You can also make a small watering device like the one shown in the photo by making holes in the top. Another option is to cut the plastic bottle in half and removing the screw top. Fill the top part with soil for your selected plant and place a small piece of string to hang into the base as shown. The base will act as a reservoir with the string drawing up water to keep the plant from needing to be watered and the roots will eventually grow towards this.
I hope by now some of you are busy harvesting your edibles if you have grown any. If you have too many of one type why not give them away to your neighbours or friends who will most likely give you something in return. A glut of tomatoes is no problem as they can easily be made into a sauce for freezing and most squashes will keep for three to four months providing they’re kept in a cool place.
If you’re not already, why not try growing zucchini, or courgette as we know it. One plant should provide plenty of fruit and can even be trained to grow upright if it is attached to a pole if there isn’t much room for it to spread.
That’s it for this month, I’l leave you with this funny.
Did you know a single ant can live for four years?
… I wonder how long a married one lives.
What do you want to know about gardening?
If you have any questions or suggestions about gardening and there is something, in particular, you would like me to cover in future articles, please let me know via an English Gardener in Çalış