As I am writing this we are enjoying the first prolonged warm and dry spell of 2023. Seems ages ago since the last one, which resulted in extreme temperatures last August. But we are already faced with the same issues as back then.....watering!
On our allotment site at Bradmore Gardens in Burton, we are on a water meter, so it’s important we use our mains water very wisely. We can only use hoses to fill our water butts and then use watering cans from those to the plants, in order to use the water where it’s needed only. But we still need a lot over a long dry spell. I fear we may face a water ban if we get another very hot dry spell later in the summer, which could be a big concern for certain plants such as tomatoes and pumpkins, which rely a lot on water more than other crops such as onions and long rooted vegetables. Our seasons are changing and less rainfall in summer appears to be the trend now. So on allotments it’s very important to harvest rainwater in water butts from the site sheds, making sure all sheds have guttering, to at least save a lot before a drought begins.
Gardening jobs in June include pinching out the side shoots on tomatoes as they grow. These are the shoots in between the main stem and the side stems that produce the trusses of tomatoes. They take much of the strength from the plant and serve no purpose, so best to just nip them off as they appear. Keep feeding the tomatoes once or twice a week with a high potash feed such as ‘tomorite’ diluted in a watering can. You can even use a liquid seaweed feed which I find effective too. Anything in grow bags or pots or borders in a greenhouse will need a good feed during the summer months. As the compost loses it’s fertility as it gets watered more often. Remember to tie in stems to a tall cane or other supports as plants grow taller.
You can still sow radishes, lettuce and other salad crops and more beetroot, spinach and french beans. Any grass cuttings could be used as a mulch around runner beans or tomatoes, to help retain moisture at the base of the plants.
Also a good idea to grow some marigolds or calendulas next to beans and tomatoes, as companion plants. These help deter aphids by attracting the hoverflies that kill the aphids. Avoid spraying insecticides on your plants as these kill much needed insects like ladybirds, which eat thousands of greenfly a day. You can always use a strong soapy/water mixture in a sprayer to kill blackfly. Much better than harmful chemicals. Even the new types of slug pellets can harm the soil and gardeners friends, the hedgehogs. So leave these on the shops shelves too. Always best to fight nature with nature.