Welcome to Lee’s final article on gardening advice…
Now the heat is upon us it can be a battle to keep your plants and gardens looking their best. Pot plants that struggle and need watering daily can be helped by placing a small tray under the pot to act as a reservoir for the plant to draw up water. Or you can move the plant to a less sunny spot.
Gardens will need constant watering. I prefer to water in the early evening so plants have the cooler evenings to take in some much-needed water, and it helps to cool the plants off. The downside of watering in the evening is that water will sit on plants longer and attract insects (our friend the mozzy) and possibly fungus on some plants.
Watering in the morning (before sunrise) the plant foliage will dry quickly but try not to water the foliage (deep watering is best to get to the roots) too much as the sun on the water will act as a magnifying glass and possibly burn some foliage. Another benefit of watering in the morning is that plants do most of their growing during the day so the extra water combined with the day’s sun will help them to grow quicker.
Talking about quick growing, the following all grow quickly and are easy to grow, even for the novice gardener.
With a harvest time of as little as three weeks, radishes are one of the quickest of all vegetables to grow. They are not everyone’s cup of tea and I never used to enjoy eating them but sliced thinly in a salad I don’t mind them. Why not try a radish sauce or braising them in butter and olive oil. Plant in rows roughly 10cm apart or in pots providing depth for the radish to grow.
Again, some salad leaves can be ready in three weeks but most take no more than five weeks from sowing to picking – and the great thing is you can just cut or remove leaves as required and the plant will keep on growing for a while. Some varieties will bolt in the warm weather and go to seed quickly so try to grow them in a cooler place. Rocket and mustard leaves are two types to look out for if you want a bite in your salad as opposed to the blander types of lettuce. There are even red coloured leaves and chard to put some colour in your salads.
The great thing about beetroot is you can harvest it at any time during its growing cycle – even using the young leaves as part of a salad. When small, the young beets are sweet enough to be eaten raw or as pickled baby beets or you can wait until they are fully mature for pickled beetroot or grate as topping on salads or jacket potatoes. They take 7-12 weeks to become baby beets.
Fast-growing ‘Nantes’ type carrots can be sown to pick early as baby carrots or left to grow to mature carrots that can be picked (pulled) and given a quick rinse under a tap for a healthy snack. Seeds should take between 7-8 weeks to produce baby carrots.
Fast-growing flowers grown from seed include sunflowers, marigolds, nigella, cornflowers, petunias and nasturtiums. The added benefit of these plants is that they can all self-seed so you may find them growing the following season even though you didn’t plant them again. Nasturtiums and marigolds are also great companion plants to help protect other plants from pests. Another point to make is if you don’t have any already or don’t know where to get seeds, look at where they are growing and pick some seed heads – or ask the owner if you could have some seeds. I recently saw some discarded nigella plants that had gone to seed so I will be growing those shortly.
Edible crops should now be in abundance so be sure to pick them once ready to encourage further produce to grow, squashes, tomatoes, salad leaves, cucumbers will be in abundance. A surplus of tomatoes can be made into a sauce that can be frozen, and most squashes (not courgettes) can be stored in a cool place for 3 months or more if the skin is not damaged. When picking, try to cut with as much of the stalk attached to help keep the fruit from rotting.
There is still time to sow the following vegetable’s for a winter crop; cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, parsley and spinach. Get a move on though if you want parsnips, swede and sprouts as these normally require six months or more to grow to a mature size.
I’ll leave you for the last time with this funny…
Why did the carrot blush?
Because he saw the chick pea!
Do you have a question about gardening?
If you have any questions or suggestions about gardening please let me know via an English Gardener in Çalış