Catherine, our Kitchen Gardener shares her tips for success in the garden this month…
The mild spring meant all the seeds we planted from March to May developed really well have now been transplanted into the vegetable beds as healthy, young plants.
We used cardboard toilet tubes to plant our peas and beans into- not only does this reduce the use of plastic in the garden but it’s also better for the plants too. The cardboard tubes rot down in the soil quickly, meaning that we don’t have to disturb the roots, something the legumes really don’t like.
We’ve been nibbling on the fresh young broad beans since May– they’re delicious! The other beans and peas are not far off being ready to eat too. French and runner beans are a good choice for novice gardeners or those with limited space, as they grow vertically and, as an added bonus, provide a valuable nectar source for bees, bringing wildlife into your garden.
We tried to get ahead of the game this year with our strawberries by planting some in the greenhouse and harvested them in time for the Midsummer Garden Party in June (and Wimbledon, as is tradition!) The redcurrants and gooseberries are ready too, protected from the birds this year by the new fruit cage. Soft fruit is, generally, a great place to start if you’re new to food growing. It requires relatively little attention and freshly harvested seasonal strawberries, raspberries and currants are sublime! We’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of the tree fruit harvest too – cherries first (if we beat the birds!) and then plums.
Now that the days are warmer, we have been able to plant directly outside some of the more tender vegetables. Our courgettes, squashes and pumpkins and some of the outdoor tomatoes and cucumbers are all safely tucked into their new homes. It’s still not too late to plant seeds and expect a harvest– just check the back of the seed packets for details. Radishes are quick and easy and perfect for salads, or try chard, similar to spinach. ‘Bright Lights’ will bring glorious colour to any garden!
• As we move into high summer plants will need plenty of water. Watering is best done first thing in the morning or last thing at night, otherwise it will evaporate almost straight away! Avoid getting the leaves of potatoes or tomatoes wet as this could cause blight.
• Peas and some beans will require support as they grow. We use our metal supports, but garden canes and even pruned branches pushed into the soil are fine. Tie up loosely with twine: make sure your supports are stable enough to withstand any summer breezes.
• Cabbage White butterflies will be searching for egg laying spots at the moment. If you haven’t already, then now is definitely the time to net your brassica plants. Caterpillars can decimate a crop almost overnight, so caution is essential!
The Walled Kitchen Garden at Preston Park Museum & Grounds is open Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays except during Bank Holidays and school holidays). An adult ticket costs £2.50 and you can visit as many times as you like throughout the year.
The gardeners are happy to answer any questions that you may have and you may even be lucky enough to pick up some produce to take home – freshly harvested and chemical free!