Gardening Jobs in July

Gardening Jobs in July

What gardening jobs are there to do in July?

This is the time of the year that every gardener is waiting for! The garden is in its prime. Everything is growing, flowering and fruiting. It is a sheer joy to be out there, enjoying nature’s bounty.

July is a time of plenty. Early crops are beginning to ripen, and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. But it is also a time to think ahead to the dark season and the crops you’d like to harvest then – they need to be sown and started now. There are plenty of gardening jobs to be done in July!

 

HARVEST:

Continue to harvest lettuce and radishes as well as beets, peas and courgettes. If you have long-season or perpetual raspberries and strawberries, they are still fruiting now. As are cherries!

Onions and garlic are beginning to topple over, which is the sign that they are getting ready, but wait until the onion tops turn yellow before lifting them. Then, either leave them on the ground or, better, spread them in a well-aerated box or basket to dry them well.

Early runner beans and potatoes are also getting ready.

 

Harvesting herbs

Now is the prime time to harvest herbs. For culinary purposes, it is best to pick herbs before they begin to flower. Choose a dry, sunny day. Spread them out in a well-aerated place. Hanging them up in bunches actually encourages mould. Herbs often have a high content of volatile oil, which quickly ‘fly off’ in hot temperatures. Thus, it is best to dry them in the shade.

 

SOWING (for late season/winter harvest):

Now is the time to sow winter cabbages, kohlrabi and kale, mustards, and pak choi. If you have carrot seeds of late varieties, sow them now.

If you have a shady spot, you can continue to sow lettuce, chard, endive, chicory, chervil, radishes, coriander, as well as rocket and spinach. Keep them well watered and not in full sun to prevent them from bolting too quickly.

 

TOMATO CARE

Tomatoes need a lot of water. Keep the moisture in the soil by spreading a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plants. If they don’t get enough water, the skins turn harder and will crack as the fruit develops. The best time to water is in the evening or early morning. Avoid splashing water directly on the leaves.

You can give your plants a little boost by putting some compost around the base. Or, use liquid manure, such as nettle manure, or some other organic tomato feed that you might find at the garden centre.

Watch out for blight and end rot. Remove yellowing leaves. Pinch out any shoots that develop in the leaf axils.

 

WATERING

Water your plants as needed, neither too much nor too little. Container plants are particularly vulnerable to drying out and need the most attention. Mulch well to keep the moisture in the soil.

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies!

 

Happy Gardening!

 

Image by Cornell Frühauf from Pixabay

Gardening Jobs in June

Gardening Jobs in June

There are plenty of gardening jobs to do in June!

If you thought that now the growing season is in full swing you can kick back and relax, you are mistaken. June is a rather busy month in the garden, especially if you want to continue harvesting veggies in the fall and winter.

 

But first things first:

Slugs and snails are very hungry at this time of the year. You will have to beat them to it if you want some of those veggies for yourself. Regular slug hunts at dusk and dawn are the most effective way to keep them at bay.

To keep the soil cool and prevent it from drying out, mulch all around your plants, especially around thirsty ones such as tomatoes and zucchinis. Mulching also helps to control the slugs.

Water regularly, but not excessively.

By now, your tomatoes should be in the ground. Gently tie them to their support and pinch out the side shoots.

On hot days, make sure you don’t forget to ventilate the tunnel or greenhouse.

Harvest herbs, such as savoury, oregano and lemon balm before they begin to flower.

 

Sowing:

Hurray, it is finally warm enough to sow Basil and Coriander!

You are probably already harvesting lettuce, rocket and radishes, and maybe even snow peas. For successive crops, continue sowing them until the end of July.

You can sow beans now, but protect them well against slugs – they love the young shoots!

If your season is long enough and the climate reasonably mild, you still have a chance to sow courgettes and pumpkins -but hurry up, it is getting late! Young plants can be planted into their permanent position now.

Autumn/winter veggies like autumn leeks and brassicas like kales and cabbage can be sown until the middle of June.

The middle of June is the end of rhubarb and asparagus harvesting time.

 

Wildlife

Don’t forget the animals at this time of the year – they really appreciate a source of clean cool water and some seeds or fruit.

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies.

 

Happy Gardening!

 

Image by Krzysztof Niewolny from Pixabay

Gardening Jobs in May

Gardening Jobs in May

Gardening Jobs in May

What gardening jobs are there to do in May? In my neck of the woods, April has been unusually cool and wet. I didn’t manage to get all my April jobs done, and my ‘gardening jobs agenda’ for May is rather full. The wheel of the year is turning, and the garden does not wait.

Potatoes

If you managed to get all your potatoes planted in April, they are probably developing their first leaves by now. That is the time when you can start to earth them up for the first time. Cover the leaves with soil so only the tops are peeking out. Repeat this process regularly as the plants grow and develop.

Sweet Corn

If you are planting sweet corn, you can sow them in deep pots indoors now. That way they will get a head-start. Transplant them to a sunny spot in June.

Beans

Once there is no more risk of late frosts you can begin to sow all kinds of beans outside (runner, broad, dwarf). They like a sunny spot, but not too hot. Protect them from the slugs and snails – young bean shoots seems to be their favourite snack. If slugs are a big problem, it is best to start the plants in seed trays and transplant them only once they are strong enough to withstand a slug attack.

Warmth-loving plants: Tomatoes, Peppers, Courgettes, Aubergines

Your tomato, aubergine and pepper plants are probably growing fast now. There comes a point when they seem to be yelling, ‘get me out of here and plant me into the garden!’ Resist the temptation unless there is no more danger of late frosts in your growing zone. But, to appease them, you can start to harden them off. Take them outside during the day, but bring them back in at night.

You can also still sow cucumbers and melons – but keep them warm and protected for now.

Salad Veg and Greens

Sow batches of salad vegetables like radishes and lettuce, as well as Swiss chard and rocket to ensure a continuous supply.

Root crops

You can still sow root crops such as carrots, beetroots, leeks and turnips.

Winter Veg

Sow Leeks and brassicas for overwintering. It is best to start them off indoors to protect them from slug- and insect attacks.

Kitchen Herbs

It is also the perfect time to sow warmth-loving herbs such as basil and coriander. These also need to be protected from ravenous slugs.

Weeds

May is lush! Everything sprouts and grows – including the weeds. But no need to curse them – if you can’t beat them – eat them! Check to see what wild edibles are among the garden weeds that could be turned into a ‘foraged’ dinner. Bishop’s Weed, Stinging Nettles, Ground Ivy, Wild Garlic and Dandelion are all excellent in the ‘wild food cuisines’.

Flowers

If you have open spots in the borders you can sow annuals like Californian poppies, or nasturtiums for extra colour in the summer. The bees and insects love them, too.

Maintenance Jobs

There are always maintenance jobs that need to be taken care of:

  • If you have a pond, check for pondweed and algae and clean it out if necessary.
  • Build supports for climbing plants.
  • Keep bird feeders and birdbaths clean.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies.

 

Gardening Jobs in April

Gardening Jobs in April

The main jobs in April are planting, sowing (both indoors and directly into the beds), and weeding.  April is a busy month for gardeners. Hopefully, you have been able to prep your veggie plots in March and they are now ready for action.

 

Seed Potatoes

Your seed potatoes should be chitted (=sprouted) by now and ready to plant. Now it is time to plant them. If you have a limited amount of space, try growing them vertically in potato grow bags, or towers.

Tomatoes, Chillies & co

Tomatoes, Chillies, Aubergines and Zucchinis are ‘long-season plants’, and they like it warm. That is why we need to start them early, indoors. The best time to sow them is during the latter part of March, from about Equinox, but April is just about okay, too. Start them as soon as possible, under glass.

Alternatively, you can buy young plants at the farmer’s market or garden centre next month. Or, perhaps one of your gardening friends has far more plants than they have room for in their garden and are happy to share.

If you started your tomatoes very early, they may begin to look straggly by now, but don’t be tempted to plant them out until there is no more danger of night frosts. Instead, pot them up and cover the stem with soil up to just below the first leaf node. This will encourage them to develop more roots and prevent the stem from getting too dangly.

Gardening Jobs in April: up-potting Tomato Seedlings

Onion Sets and Shallots

Continue to plant onion sets to extend your harvesting season.

 

Direct sowing

Beetroots

Sow beetroots directly into the prepared plots or containers. Sow about 10 cm apart, or thin seedlings out once they are about 3 cm tall.

Carrots

Carrots can also be sown directly into the well-prepared ground. They prefer loose, sandy, well-draining soil. If the ground is too heavy or full of stones, the roots will fork. Carrots are very fragile as seedlings and don’t take so well to being transplanted. Starting carrots in a gutter pipe is a nifty gardening hack. The contents of the drain pipe can be transferred directly to the prepared plot without the need to handle individual seedlings.

Leeks

You can still sow leeks under glass now. Once they’ve grown to about 15-20 cm, transplant well-prepared soil. Plant them deeply (20 cm deep holes) to get a long blanched shaft. Plant approx. 15 cm apart. Space rows about 30 cm apart.
If you stagger the sowing and transplanting, you can significantly extend the harvesting season, which can start as early as August and continue through the winter. It’s best to harvest them fresh as needed.

Radishes

Sow radishes at regular intervals right through August to ensure a continued supply. The seeds are tiny, so thin seedlings out to about 2.5 cm per plant once they are about 3 cm tall. They are an ideal ‘gap’ crop or row marker – they grow fast and can be harvested long before a slower-growing main crop develops. Filling gaps with radishes also helps to keep the weeds at bay. Water regularly and keep an eye out for predatory slugs and snails.

Gardening Jobs in April: Sowing Radishes

Swiss Chard

Coloured varieties of Swiss Chard are beautiful ‘edimentals’, whether you like the taste or not. They can be sown directly into a well-prepared bed. The nice thing is, they are tolerant of partial shade, so they don’t have to take the prime spot in the garden.

Turnips

Like radishes, turnips are a fast and easy crop to grow. If you harvest them young, they can be eaten raw or cooked, and the leaves can be used as well.

Peas

Sow peas at intervals to ensure a continued supply. Unlike most plants, peas don’t mind growing closely together. There is no need to thin them out: growing them in thick bunches keeps the weeds down and increases yields. Keep them moist at the beginning. Later, water deeply once a week, especially during the summer when they start to flower. Mulch to keep the moisture in the soil.

Weeding

Controlling weeds is a tiresome task, but if you get on top of it early, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort later in the season, when it gets much harder to pull them out without damaging your crops. Mulching greatly helps to keep weeds down and moisture in the ground.

 Happy Gardening!

 

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies!

Gardening Jobs in March

Gardening Jobs in March

seeds and Gardening Jobs in March

March is the busy season in the garden. As soon as the sun comes out, and it is warm (and dry) enough to be outside, every gardener itches to get their hands into the dirt again. But where to start?

Preparing the vegetable beds

Once the ground is no longer frozen, nor too wet, you can start preparing the beds.

Remove the weeds early on (especially perennial or biennial ones), which will make it less troublesome to keep on top of the weeding later on in the season.

If you haven’t done it yet, continue deadheading and clearing the garden, but beware that butterflies often overwinter on the old stalks of nettles and such (nettles support some 40 species of insects and butterflies!) Fresh, young nettles also make a wonderful early wild vegetable, so unless they are really in your way or growing in the vegetable beds, maybe consider leaving them standing. You might find them quite useful!

Dig in plenty of good homegrown compost into the vegetable plots and prepare the soil to get a fine crumb. This will make it easy for your seedlings to break through the crust.

What to sow in March

What you can sow in March will largely depend on your growing zone. In milder climes, it is possible to sow hardier, early veggies out in the open in March. More frost-sensitive plants do best when grown under cover, or in the cold frame. In colder your growing zone the more important it is to start your seeds indoors early, on the window sill. That way, they will get a bit of a boost. They will have developed into little plants that are more resilient than seedlings by the time you will plant them out. And their growing season is that much longer. For warmth-loving plants like tomatoes and zucchinis, early indoor cultivation is a must. Sow them about 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost.

Outdoors

Onion sets can be planted out in March. Other hardy veggies that can be sown directly into the well-prepared beds from mid-March include beetroots, Swiss chard and lettuce, (also Asian lettuce) and peas as well as rocket, radishes, and nasturtiums. By the end of March/beginning of April, the soil should be warm enough to plant out Jerusalem artichokes.

Indoors or under cover

You can sow tomatoes, peppers and fennel, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage (early varieties), Savoy cabbage, Malabar spinach (late March), New Zealand spinach, carrots, autumn leeks, and celery either in the cold frame or indoors. Tomatoes, fennel and pepper are always best started indoors in an environment of about 20°C.

Make sure to open up the cold frame on sunny days so it does not get too hot under the glass. The plants need air and the untimely heat would promote early bolting (or withering).

Whatever you do, make sure your seedlings don’t dry out once you have sown them. Water is their life-blood. They cannot grow without it.

Bulbs and Perennials

March is the perfect time to plant summer flowering bulbs such as irises or dahlias, as well as summer and autumn flowering perennials.

Happy Gardening!

Check out SeedsNow for your organic gardening supplies!

Gardening Jobs in February

Gardening Jobs in February

What kind of gardening jobs are there to do in February?

If your fingers are itching and you can’t wait to get your hands back into the soil, here is what you can do, even as early as February. (At least if you live in the northern hemisphere and are living in a growing zone 7-8. Every climate zone is different and you may also have a micro-climate, so take this as general advice – no guarantees, rather than as gospel truth.

Although it is still winter and the weather has been pretty wild and stormy, I have spotted the first snowdrops and even the first Winter Aconite! They are such a welcome sight – the first signs that let you know beyond doubt that although there may still be snow around and temperatures are far from balmy – spring is definitely on the way.

The sight of these has been a kind of floral wake up call. My fingers have been itching ever since and I feel restless, yearning to get active in the garden. But where to start, and what to do? After all, it is still too cold for sowing most of my summer crop plants outside.

Crocus

(Crocus vernus)

The spring crocus is one of the most cherished spring flowers. Its flowers come in many different colors and to me, they are reminiscent of Easter Eggs – although Easter is still a long way away. It is the shape of the balloon-like flowers that create this association in my mind. Like the other early flowering plants, it too makes the most of dry sunny weather, to attract early pollinators, but close their flowers to protect their delicate parts as soon as cold or rainy weather is on the way.

Winter Aconite

(Eranthis hyemalis)

Like miniature suns, these golden stars warm the heart in early spring. Daringly, they open up fully to the first warming rays of the sun. But they are not stupid. As soon as the sky clouds over, they fold up their petals to keep their stamens and stigma protected and warm. While heart-warming and pretty to behold, it is good to remember that this is a Ranunculus species and all of its parts are poisonous.

Cyclamen

(Cyclamen coum)

Cyclamens are so cute! Their pink little flowers remind me of piglets, with the snout pointing down and their ears (petals) flying in the wind, so to speak. The dainty flowers appear to be ‘inside-out’, seemingly exposing their pollinating parts. But that isn’t actually the case. Their delicate stamens and sepals are sheltered inside the ‘snout’, which forms a tubular structure that protects them against the elements. 

Snowdrops

(Galanthus nivalis) 

These tender little flowers are the most daring of all! Long before other flowers wake up, this one has sent its spear-like flowers up, even piercing the snow, if necessary. Its bell-like dangles tenuously on the stem, protecting itself from the elements by facing the earth, rather than the sky, its petals sheltering the stamen and stigma. Snowdrops are heralds of hope at a time when winter is still raging. The message is clear. It’s early days yet, but spring IS on the way. Life will return…soon.

Indoor Gardening

Start some long-season plants indoors

At this time of the year, my house turns into a potting shed. I am not suggesting you should do this, too. Maybe you are better organized. Maybe you have a greenhouse or a heated cold frame or something like that, where you can start the earliest seeds, protected from the cold.

If you live in the northern hemisphere, as I do, the growing season is limited. To extend it as far as possible, start off long-season plants, like chili peppers or aubergines, by sowing them early indoors.

All you need are some starter trays and some soil. It is best to use special sterile starter soil that is not too heavy with nutrients. The reason why you want it to be sterile is so that your tender seedlings do not have to compete for nutrients. This is even more of an issue if the seeds you are sowing are slow to sprout.

Gardening shops sell both, the potting mix for starting seeds as well as the seedling starter trays. While they make things easier and often come with a tray to put them on as well as a lid to keep moisture in, you don’t really need them. You can improvise by recycling your yogurt pots, or other plastic containers. You can even use the cardboard tube of your toilet rolls. These are especially good for tender plants that develop long, fragile roots, such as carrots.

Give your warmth-loving, long-season plants a boost by starting them off 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost in your region. Cover the pots with plastic and keep the soil moist. Place them in a bright, warm spot and you should see the first seedlings pop up soon. Use a spray can only to water the seedlings until they are robust enough to handle a watering can. Once there is no more danger of frost and soil temperatures have risen to about 15°C/60°F you can begin to harden your ‘babies’ off before transferring them to their permanent spots.

In the garden

Once the snow has melted and the soil has dried off, it is time to get busy preparing the beds. Cut back dead plants if you didn’t do it in the fall (I keep most things standing through the winter to help the wildlife). Loosen the soil and get rid of the invasive weeds. (Some of those may well be edible!) Mix in some fresh compost. Beds that you are not going to use immediately should be mulched. Let the soil settle until it is warm enough to transfer your first seedlings or to sow directly into the prepared bed.

The earliest crops that can be sown directly into the soil include peas, early varieties of radish, parsley, spinach, and carrots, as well as lettuce, and onions sets. If you are worried about late frost, start them in a cold frame until the soil has warmed to about 15°C.

Carrots and parsley can be slow to sprout. You might want to start them in a dish of wet sand. Leave the dish in the cold for about a week, then take it indoors and you should see them sprout pretty quickly. The most important thing to know about sowing carrots and root parsley is that they like loose and even soil. So make sure their permanent spot is well prepared. You can do this by mixing sand and garden soil and sifting both to create a nice light soil.

By the end of February, you can start to sprout your spuds. For best results use seed potatoes. Lay them out in egg cartons on the windowsill until they start to sprout. Turn them so that the side with the most ‘eyes’ is face up. Let them sprout for 5-6 weeks, before planting them out.

For other veggies, it is best to delay sowing until early March, if you can wait that long.

Happy gardening!

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