By Gordon the Gardener

Summer’s finally here but it was a long haul of a spring. It was a cold April and early May but two weeks of warm sunshine put paid to my prediction of June flowering tulips.

After they came out slowly they were over and gone in the blink of an eye – along with a seemingly short Spring.

And it’s now it all hands to the decks with lots plants to go out and seed to sow, having held back due to cool weather and north east winds. But nature will provide, and growth will soon catch up.

Most of my own crops are a little behind for early June. But ‘flaming June’ seems to be here and temperatures are now safe for planting at last. Bedding plants, beans, spinach and all vegetable seed can be sown direct.

The growing of any crop of plants, no matter which, lies with soil preparation. Good soil preparation is just as important as good plants.

Dahlias’ colourful blooms are a real attraction but if you do grow dahlias ensure you stake and tie them well.

A dahlia makes a lot of heavy growth and if not tied and well staked, strong winds will blow over and snap off the whole plant.

The soil itself will benefit from an application of one of many soil improvers. Bags of farmyard manure can now be bought at garden centres. This can be incorporated into the ground at the same time as the fertiliser. Work it well in, so all is mixed into the soil.

June can produce really warm, drying winds which can affect plants if they are not watered regularly. Don’t be tempted to just apply small quantities of water as this may result in shallow rooting. Feed all plants in pots and containers every 10 days to encourage flowering and vigour.

Greenhouses keep damp on very hot days and apply shading to the glass to protect plants from the sun’s rays.

It’s nearly time to start feeding tomatoes. I use a liquid feed once a week. But as it gets into July I give these feeds twice weekly. But my tomatoes grow big and strong and can take it.

Watering is made easy by planting the tomatoes in big pots with a hole cut out in the bottom of the pot.

Then I place the potted tomatoes on a grow bag, then I cut round the pot removing the piece of plastic – then the potted plant is put in place. The tomatoes will then root out into the tomato planter. It can then get moisture in the bag. 

Feed is applied to the pot and water to the bag. Using a pot along with the tomato bag planter gives perfect results. With less blossom end rot and greenback.

Tomato greenback is a physiological problem caused by stress to the plant, rather than a pest or disease. It usually affects greenhouse-grown tomatoes and causes hard, green areas to form on the fruit that make it unpleasant to eat. 

Shading keeps the temperature down during spells of hot weather. Shade can be in the form of a liquid mixed and applied with a brush or with a green fine mesh put over the glass as I do.

My plant of the month for you is Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ (above). They are in flower now and are well worth considering for your garden.

They can be grown as a single specimen or against a fence or a wall. A member of the potato family it will give deep purple-blue scented blooms which appear in generous clusters from summer to autumn creating a spectacular display.

Finally, keep a close eye out for pests and diseases – the rule of thumb is prevention is always better than cure.

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