ROOFTOP GAR­DEN­ING

Canal Boat - - Boater’s Break - with Julie Clark

Spend­ing the sum­mer in the UK can be, to say the least, a lit­tle un­pre­dictable on the weather front. Per­haps that is why both gar­den­ers and boaters tend to be op­ti­mists and have a good sup­ply of de­cent coats.

Will our care­fully planned gar­den­ing schemes drown, freeze or fry this year? Hap­pily, plants know how to cope and we just need to keep an eye on their needs.

By now our veg­eta­bles should be be­com­ing pro­duc­tive, de­pend­ing on when you planted. My run­ner beans are cer­tainly look­ing very promis­ing as are my bush pa­tio toma­toes. I planted up a tub of toma­toes and basil to­gether with an eye on that salad to come.

If you are grow­ing beans or peas re­mem­ber if they get at all dry they will im­me­di­ately drop their flow­ers and young pods, so be vig­i­lant.

If you haven’t got a veg plot on the go, cut and come again salad leaves can be grown all through the year; sow some in a bas­ket or pretty bowl ready to pick at the ta­ble – a lovely cen­tre piece as well as a talk­ing point. There is a huge se­lec­tion of leaves to choose from with lots of in­ter­est­ing colours and flavours. Also, if you haven’t al­ready, it is still not too late to get some beans and peas started now, they can be planted di­rectly into pots out­side, as well as radish, beet­root and car­rots, why not do it any­way and have an ex­tra crop to en­joy later in the season.

My bed­ding plants are at their glo­ri­ous best now and this might just be about the time the com­post is about to run out of nu­tri­ents, some com­posts only feed for 12 weeks. It is, there­fore, time to start with a weekly dose of an all-pur­pose liq­uid feed.

A feed rich in sul­phate of potash is rec­om­mended for veg­eta­bles as it es­pe­cially helps with fruit ripen­ing and en­cour­ag­ing re­sis­tance to dis­ease as well as pro­mot­ing vigour against harsh weather con­di­tions.

Whilst bed­ding plants tend to take care of them­selves, and how gen­er­ous they are with their beau­ti­ful and bril­liant colours, they are pro­grammed to set seed and as soon as they have done this they will slow down their flower pro­duc­tion. Reg­u­lar dead­head­ing will pre­vent this and en­cour­age more flow­ers. Also, keep an eye out for pests and dis­eases. In a gar­den, the birds and ants are our friends, es­pe­cially where aphids are con­cerned but these are not go­ing to help us on the boat.

Warm soapy wa­ter makes an ex­cel­lent and safe in­sect re­mover – very handy if any of your beans should at­tract black or green fly but don’t on any ac­count use it on toma­toes which do not ap­pre­ci­ate wet leaves if at all pos­si­ble.

So, it’s not too late to squeeze in a few more plants to top up your roof top gar­den boat for the Boats in Bloom com­pe­ti­tion. I look for­ward to see­ing some won­der­ful plant­ing this sum­mer.

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