Add some late sum­mer colour

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - East Kent Property - - OUTDOORS -

A sweetly fra­grant plant that works well as a cut flower but can also be used to at­tract wildlife such as bees and in­sects into the gar­den is phlox. Flow­er­ing in mid sum­mer through to the end of the au­tumn, phlox is a su­perb hardy herba­ceous peren­nial orig­i­nally from North Amer­ica, with scented star­shaped pink, white and pur­ple/blue flow­ers. It is the ideal bor­der plant, of­ten used in cot­tage gar­dens, but is also good as a cut flower and can grow quite tall so may need some support. Phlox likes a well nour­ished soil that has been en­riched with rot­ted com­post or ma­nure and prefers full sun al­though it can tol­er­ate par­tial shade. In late au­tumn cut the stems right down to the base and then mulch in early spring.

Na­tional Gar­den Gift Vouch­ers can be bought and re­deemed at over 2,000 out­lets, with more than 90,000 gar­den plants and prod­ucts on of­fer. Visit www. thevoucher­gar­den.co.uk to see the out­lets that sell and ac­cept them. You should be pick­ing to­ma­toes now, but many may still not be ripe. The se­cret is op­ti­mum sun­shine, so re­move the yel­low­ing lower leaves up to the first truss. When these have ripened, take off the next set of leaves. If the leaves are re­ally dense, you can thin them a lit­tle to help air cir­cu­la­tion and light. Cut off the grow­ing tip of the plant, if you haven’t al­ready done so, which will then trans­fer the re­main­ing en­ergy to the fruits to reach full size. If you still have green to­ma­toes left when the weather cools off, har­vest them and put them in a brown pa­per bag with a ba­nana and they should ripen more quickly. Al­ter­na­tively, you can make a ter­rific green tomato chut­ney! If the fruits are big, but still not ripe, they will need some support. Feed them reg­u­larly with a tomato fer­tiliser to help them along and pick pep­pers when they are ripe but the skin is still smooth. If some have wrin­kled skins, you may be bet­ter adding them to cooked dishes as they won’t taste good raw. Fruits store well and will keep for around 10 days in the fridge. You do not want to be let­ting your cour­gettes grow too large or they’ll just be­come wa­tery, taste­less mar­rows, so check them at least twice a week, pick­ing them when they reach around 15cm. For best re­sults, feed plants with a di­lute tomato feed once a week and har­vest them reg­u­larly through­out the month to en­cour­age fur­ther crop­ping. Most types will con­tinue to pro­duce fruits un­til the first frosts. If you want to ex­tend the sea­son, cover the plants at night with gar­den fleece. If you’re hav­ing a late hol­i­day, re­move flow­ers and fruits be­fore you go, which will mean more should have ap­peared by the time you come back. Like sweet­peas, beans ben­e­fit from reg­u­lar har­vest­ing, which will pro­mote fur­ther crops. Through­out sum­mer, you should be pick­ing them ev­ery other day, if you can, be­fore they grow tough and stringy. The best time to pick them is when the bean snaps cleanly with­out any string, when it’s around 17-18cm long. Leave them too long and the crop­ping will also fall off. Pick off ev­ery bean to pro­long crop­ping into late sum­mer and if you’re lucky, you should be pick­ing them un­til Oc­to­ber. Those you can’t eat can eas­ily be blanched or frozen, to en­joy through the win­ter months. Now, you will no doubt have be­ing en­joy­ing home-grown let­tuce since late spring if you’ve sown batches at twoweek in­ter­vals to keep up the sup­plies through­out sum­mer. But you can even make a fi­nal sow­ing in Au­gust for an au­tumn crop, sow­ing a loose leaved type and har­vest­ing the leaves as re­quired. Ori­en­tal leaves such as pak choi, mizuna and ko­mat­suna are best sown from mid­sum­mer on­wards as ear­lier crops tend to pro­duce flow­ers rather than leaves. To get the best flavour, har­vest let­tuces in the early morn­ing when the leaves are at their fresh­est and only take what you need. To store them, dampen them un­der the tap and put them in a plas­tic bag in the fridge to keep them moist.

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