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.