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Allotment Garden Newsletter July Extra

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison

Dear Friend

I hope this finds you safe well and coping with the heatwave here in the UK. When the weather is like this it reminds me of some time spent near Barcelona many years ago.

The way we coped with growing in that Spanish sunshine was to start early, around 7am and work through to around 11am when the sun began to get really strong. Then a shower, a long leisurely lunch followed by a siesta until around 5pm when things started to cool down. Then we’d work on for a few more hours in the cool.

The main watering, flooding channels between the rows of vegetables in the traditional fashion, was undertaken in the evening. This allowed the water to soak in to the soil overnight. Watering in the morning lost more to evaporation in the heat of the day.

My friend Dick Handscombe who lives and grows in Spain wrote some articles for the site including 30 Ways to Save Water in Mediterranean Gardens which has a few tips for UK growers at the moment.

Still on the subject of watering, you might find this little video I made a while ago helpful. Watering the Plot Efficiently for Better Plants I show you how to test if you actually need to water in this clip. You’ll be surprised at the sophisticated tool I use to determine this!

Greenhouse Growing

I thought I’d take advantage of this extra newsletter to talk a little on greenhouse growing. When I started growing greenhouses were not as affordable as they are today and only the keenest gardeners boasted a greenhouse. Now we wonder how we lived without them.

Temperature Control

As I write the sun is shining which is great but it’s too hot for our plants. The ideal temperature for tomatoes, a standard greenhouse crop, is between 20ºC and 24ºC Once temperatures rise above 27ºC plants really begin to suffer and above 32ºC fruit will fail to set. See: Ideal Temperatures for Growing Tomatoes

Auto Vents

The first rule is to ventilate – open the lights and the door. If it’s a warm night, leave the door open so you’re not caught out by early morning sunshine. Not being a morning person myself, I use Bayliss XL Autovents which open and close in response to temperature.

Scorching

To protect from scorching the plants and keeping temperatures down in sunny weather, I use Nixol shade paint on the glass. It’s clever stuff, white to reflect sunlight when the sun shines but it becomes clear when it rains.

It doesn’t come off the greenhouse in the rain but at the end of the season it’s easy enough to wash off.

Greenhouse Watering

In hot weather watering is critical and you may need to water two or three times a day. Just uneven watering will result in poor growth and problems with cracked skins and blossom end rot in tomatoes.

Emergency Cooling

If you have a mains water supply handy and find the greenhouse like an oven in the sun, a mist spray will bring the temperature down in short order. Most hosepipe spray guns – like this Darlac Multi-Pattern Spray Gun – have a mist setting that will work a treat. I measured a 5ºC drop in just five minutes of use.

Pests

You really need to keep on top of pests like white fly and red mite. They breed so fast, especially in a greenhouse, that a small problem can become a big problem in just a week. As soon as you spot them, deal with them. For white fly, sticky yellow cards are fairly effective and marigolds help to keep them away from your crops in the first place.

The second line of defence is to spray with a contact killer. Unlike poison sprays, you can eat the crops safely but you need to be thorough when spraying.

I have a method that makes sure I get as many as possible. First spray over the plant to cover the topside of the leaves and any in flight, then under the leaves and finally the compost in which they’re planted.

I’ve used Bug Clear and Agralan in the past but on the advice of Medwyn Williams who is the expert’s expert of vegetable growing, changed to SB Invigorator. This not only kills white fly and spider mite but also controls powdery mildew whilst being a foliar feed to help the plant resist attack and repair damage.

If you’re losing the battle against a pest, then bring in more troops with a biological control. Encarsia Formosa will quickly reduce your white fly problem to manageable levels. They come as pupae on cards which you hang in the shade between the plants. Take down any sticky yellow cards though if using Encarsia  – you don’t want to catch your own soldiers.

Storing & Preserving Books Offer

We’re now reaching the time of year when the garden and allotment begin to overflow with their bounty. So, we’ve set up a special offer for you including both How to Store Your Home Grown Produce and Easy Jams, Chutneys and Preserves plus 8 packs of seeds for only £17.00!

That’s a saving of over 10% on buying each book individually PLUS an extra two packets of seeds! All seeds will have over a year to sow, meaning whilst harvesting this year’s bounty you can already be prepared for sowing in 2022

Storing & Preserving Books Offer

Omlet Voucher Offer

Omlet are best known for their fantastic chicken coops but they also supply a wide range of pet products and housing. We’ve negotiated an exclusive voucher which is valid until 31st August of 10% Off all orders. Just use the code CHICKAG10 at the checkout.

OMLET Offer Code for 10% Off All Orders – CHICKAG10

Foliar Feeding

Foliar feeding is where you supply nutrients to the plant via the leaves. It’s a good way to deliver a boost to an ailing plant. I use it for seaweed stimulant like Maxicrop

Leaves have pores called stomata through which they breath and get rid of excess water vapour. Most are on the underside of the leaves and they close up to save water in the afternoon heat. So spray foliar feeds to the underside of leaves in the cool of the morning for best take-up.

More to Read!

There’s a lot on the site that I hope you’ll find useful in addition to the monthly guides. I’ve listed some suggestions below:

Greenhouse Growing – 14 pages about growing in greenhouses, buying and building greenhouses, coldframes etc.

Polytunnel Growing – 14 pages. Organic polytunnel growing is a great alternative to greenhouse growing but best used along with a greenhouse to get the most from both. Includes monthly to-do guides from Klaus Laitenberger

And don’t forget there’s masses of help on the greenhouse crops themselves in the Vegetable Growing and Fruit Growing sections

It’s always nice to hear back from readers but please understand we’ve a lot going on that I’m trying to keep up with. I really can’t reply to everyone but I do read all the emails that I’m sent.

If you need advice, why not ask on our help forums where there are lots of experienced gardeners who can assist you.

That’s it for now, I hope you’ve found this newsletter useful. The next newsletter will be in August. Doesn’t time fly!

Good Growing but above all, keep well

John

Allotment Garden

Fron Dirion, Clogwyn Melyn,
CAERNARFON
LL54 6PT
Wales

Allotment-Garden.org

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