This year our summer has been exceptional. We’ve had extreme heat, strong winds and lots of rain. Some crops have grown really well and others have struggled.
This family includes cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchinis and melons and they’re the crops that have thrived in the heat.
Pumpkins and melons are strong growers and need little or no watering during the growing season. If you plant them into good rich soil with added organic matter and animal manure at the start, they survive really well on their own.
If you live in an area that experiences humidity however, then powdery mildew may be a problem. You can’t cure the affected leaves, but you can help protect new ones.
Apply solutions of either baking soda (1 teaspoon of baking soda to every 1 litre of water), diluted milk (10 parts water to 1 part milk) or sulphur (dilute as per instructions on the packet) to the leaves. These solutions help to alkalise the leaves of the plant and keep the mildew from spreading.
Also note the ladybug with the black and yellow stripes is not one of our garden friends – they help spread the mildew. Not much you can do about them though.
As pumpkins and melons grow larger, it’s best to lift them off the soil. Placing them on a piece of wood or a brick will lift them off any moisture and prevent the possibility of rotting.
Leave your pumpkins on the vine as long as possible. The longer they remain, the tastier they become and the better they store. Ideally harvest them at the end of August or beginning of September.
In the summer heat, our tomatoes, peppers and chillis are ripening quickly. Keep them picked to encourage new fruit to set.
If the green shield beetle is leaving circles on your tomatoes, try picking them off and squishing them between leaves or your fingers (with gloves on!) and leave the remains around the plants. The horrible smell will deter other beetles.
You can make up a solution of these creatures in the blender with water, then pour it over your plants, but you’d have to dedicate an old blender to the job as it may be difficult to get the smell out! The long-term solution is to plant more flowers and have them year round in the garden to build up the population of beneficial insects.
Another plant that’s done well in the heat is the sweet potato. During this Full Moon, cut back some of the leafy growth so all the energy goes into the root. The leaves make great compost.
Don’t be in a hurry to harvest this crop. Wait until the weather cools down and some of the leaves die off. September and October is the best time to harvest.
And while you’re at the beach this summer, how about collecting some seaweed which the strong winds will have washed up. You can make a seaweed tea, add it straight to the compost, use it as a garden mulch or make Black Gold. Black Gold is a simple but fantastic garden tonic made up of layers of seaweed, coffee grounds and animal manure, then left in the sun to break down. Use strong, reusable black plastic bags and in 3-4 weeks it’s ready to add to your garden beds.
If your plum tree has finished fruiting, now’s a great time to do summer pruning. For orchards free of chemical sprays, there’s less chance of disease occurring if you prune during the hotter months. Remember that, like delateralling tomatoes, pruning should be done on days with blue skies and a good breeze.
Red Bartlett is one of the early pears and we were alerted to it being ready when we saw the birds starting to peck on the fruit!
From Rob, Jan and the Team at OEG!