Allotment and Garden Guides

Monthly Guides To Getting Better Results From Your Vegetable Plot And Your Fruit Garden

Archive for the ‘August’ Category

Tomatoes

Posted by Wartime Gardener

Strong growth and plentiful flowers can be misleading. It is rare for us even in the best of summers to have the long spells of sunshine necessary to ripen more than four trusses of fruit.  So “stop” the plants by pinching out the main growing shoot. Nip it off just above the fourth truss. Even if four trusses have not set, the stopping should be done by the third week of the month. There is nothing to be gained by leaving the plants to grow on.

Keep moisture at the roots. Allowing the soil to dry out and then trying to correct matters by soaking, only leads to split fruit. If you have the material, apply a generous mulch (see “hold that moisture“) and do not let the soil surface cake hard. Keep feeding the plants, but do not overdo it;  and especially at this stage avoid too much nitrogen – sulphate of ammonia or nitrate of soda – which will only promote rank growth and fruit that lacks flavour. It also makes the plants less resistant to disease.

Let the sun get at the fruit. This does not mean recklessly cutting out every leaf that is in the way. Remember that the leaves of plants play an important part in their nutrition. Remove any dead or withered leaves from the base, of course, and then carefully thin out, here and there, to uncover developing trusses. Keep a sharp lookout for any side shoots that you may have missed. Watch out also for blight (see June Guide) and give another spraying or dusting as a precaution.

Now is the time when the quality of plants tells. If yours are not all they should be, make a resolution to start with better stock next year. There are still too many over-forced weakly plants bought by the unwary.

Prepare for Autumn Sowings

Posted by Wartime Gardener

Ground for winter lettuce and turnips should be prepared a week or two in advance. Avoid ground likely to become damp in the winter; lettuces can stand up to cold much better than to wet conditions.

Dig the ground over one spade’s depth and leave it for a week or more to settle. If the soil is poor, rake in a dressing of 1-1 1/2 oz. per square yard of National Growmore fertiliser. If the ground was not limed in the spring, dress with lime and fork in lightly immediately after digging, but do not apply at the same time as the fertiliser. Leave the ground alone until the lime is well washed in and then – just before sowing – apply the fertiliser and fork it in lightly.

For lettuce, tread the ground firmly and evenly and rake it down finely. Choose a variety suitable for winter and sow seed thinly in drills 3/4 in. deep and 1 ft. apart. When seedlings are large enough to be handled in late September and early October, they will be thinned out to 9 in. apart.

digging in garden

Last Chance To Take Stock

Posted by Wartime Gardener

Now is the time to make sure of winter’s greenstuff – to make good losses caused by pests or diseases – opportunity to sit down after that back-aching weeding – just sit and think – sit and make sure – it’s your last chance.

If you have not yet sown spring cabbage, do so at once or it will soon be too late. Do not sow in that part of the seedbed where spring sowings of cabbage were made this year. The soil may contain Cabbage Root Fly or the spores of Club Root. Sow seed thinly 1 in. deep in drills made 6 in. apart ;  sow enough to plant four rows of spring cabbage on the ground which will be left free after the onions are harvested. Do not sow too many, but allow a small reserve for making good any losses after planting out in September. If possible, sow after rain; or if the soil is very dry, water the seedbed a few hours before sowing. Where space is confined, sow “Harbinger”, which is compact and hearty. Where more room is available “Early Offenham” and “Durham Early” are good varieties.

Sow late kale now where it is to mature, and thin as required during growth  — it will give you a late green crop in March and April. Sow winter radish – they can be lifted and stored. Smooth-leaved Batavian endive, sown now and treated as lettuce, will last well into the winter, if it is blanched by tying up loosely with raffia and protected by a pot or box.

The main thing is to make sure of winter greens. Sow now for the lean months. If you are following the Ministry’s Cropping Plan, make yourself completely comfortable in a deck chair – and study it. If you have any gaps or corners to spare, fill them with winter greens.