Sean Giles heads up the fruit and vegetable growing part of the Pines Garden. He has been gardening since he was a toddler, it was part of family life for him.  He has had thirty years experience of working in farming and horticulture. Here he shares some of extensive knowledge.

Cucumbers

To keep your cucumbers sweet, remember to pinch off the male flowers.  You can see the tiny baby cucumber at the base of female flowers so you should be able to easily tell the difference.   Keep your cucumbers tied in and take off and burn any leaves with powdery mildew.

Potatoes & Tomatoes

Unfortunately this recent spell of wet and humid weather has led to an outbreak of blight in some places.  Blight can decimate your tomato plants and put paid to your tatties almost overnight.  If you see it on your potatoes, cut the tops off the plants and you still will get a harvest underground.  Sadly your tomatoes will be done for.  Burn or take your affected plants to the tip, rather than compost at home.

If your tomatoes are fine and healthy, keep taking off the side shoots and only allow 4 or 5 trusses per plant. With longer side shoots its worth dipping the bottom of the stem in hormone rooting powder and potting up in 3 inch pots of compost – keep these in your greenhouse and you can have fresh tomatoes at Christmas. I feed my tomatoes with comfrey liquor every 10-14 days, but liquid seaweed or any organic tomato food will do to keep the plants strong and ensure the best crop.

Leeks

Now is a good time to plant out leek plants. Make a hole with a dibber about three inches deep and drop in the young plant. Do not back fill with soil but water in well.  This will leave enough room for the stems to grow and swell and lessen the risk of bolting.

Brassicas

Sow broccoli, cabbages and spring greens too. Plant in seed modules and plant out when they are able to hold their own against the slugs and snails.  I use organic slug pellets around the brassicas, especially after the rain.  If you have had club root on your plot, it’s worth trying a traditional remedy.  Place an inch long cube of rhubarb stem under each cabbage you plant out. This is what the old fellas have always told me. Let me know if it works for you.

Other jobs to get on with this month

  • Lift your onions and leave them out to dry before onion rot sets in.
  • If your courgette or squash are being blown about by the wind, anchor a couple of the leaves down with a handful of earth.
  • Summer prune your apple and pear trees.  Cut all upright new growth and leave any horizontal or leaning branches.  This lets light in. Also remove any new growth that is rubbing against another branch. The colder evenings we will be having are actually necessary for starch in the fruit to turn to sugar and give a sweet fruit.

Lastly, try not to water after 9am or before 4pm.  The plants don’t like it, the water on the leaves can burn.