The Vegetable Garden in Early June

The Vegetable Garden in early June: Mulching with straw, Wildlife Pond update, installing a Garden Mailbox, getting sunburned, and what's growing.
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Mulching with straw, Wildlife Pond update, a garden Mailbox, getting sunburned, and what’s growing

After a cold April, May started turning on the heat and plants in the garden are starting to grow. It feels like we should expect more of a harvest at this time of the year but patience will pay off in a couple of weeks. Until then, it’s baby greens, welsh onions, and rhubarb filling up the basket and plenty of work do be done in preparation for summer veg.

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Mulching vegetables with straw helps to keep weeds from growing and stops the soil from drying out.

Mulching vegetables with straw helps to keep weeds from growing and stops the soil from drying out.

I had an afternoon free last Thursday so I decided to spend part of it planting brassicas in my allotment garden. I’m growing Broccoli Romanesco (the spiralling green cauli-broccoli), Cauliflower Graffiti (it’s purple!), and some standard green broccoli. Up until a couple of weeks ago the patch they were going into was covered by black plastic but I’d put the graft in and had the bed ready for planting. All I had to do is dig in the plants and mulch them with straw.

Aloe Vera is a lifesaver for sunburns! Slice a leaf lengthwise and gently rub the juices over your skin.

Aloe Vera is a lifesaver for sunburns! Slice a leaf lengthwise and gently rub the juices over your skin.

I thought it would only take a half-hour or so but like so many short visits I ended up staying the rest of the afternoon. I was also silly enough to forget to put sunscreen on my back and so ended up with a nasty sunburn. Obviously.

Every year about this time I underestimate the power of the sun and then suffer the consequences. Will I ever learn?! Fortunately I grow Aloe Vera so as soon as I got home I cut off a leaf and got Josh’s help to put it on. The sunburn felt much better immediately and by the next day it had started to turn into a tan.

My Palram greenhouse helped me to get ahead of the cold weather in April.

My Palram greenhouse helped me to get ahead of the cold weather in April.

My christmas present last year was a Palram greenhouse and thanks to it I’ve been able to move most of my plants out of the conservatory and onto the patio. Most of my garden plants start their lives here now as seeds pressed into compost. They germinate quicker in the warmth of the greenhouse and after getting them used to the cooler temperature outside they end up being planted out into the allotment.

A wooden trough filled with garden compost is the perfect way to grow greenhouse tomatoes.

A wooden trough filled with garden compost is the perfect way to grow greenhouse tomatoes.

I’ve also gone ahead and got Josh to build me a trough planter inside and after lining it with plastic I’ve filled it up with garden compost and planted tomatoes and basil. The basil was from one of those inexpensive supermarket herbs (here’s how to divide it) and I’ve also popped in a few lettuces for good measure.

The bushier tomatoes in the photo above are Yellow Currant Tomatoes (on the far left) and Red Currant Tomatoes (on the far right). These plants were sent to me as plug plants from Dobies of Devon and have put on a lot of growth since I last blogged about them. The fruits are tiny, like little redcurrants, and the plant was apparently discovered growing on a south american beach in 1707. Might be a good grower for those trying to grow along the seaside.

The two tomato plants in the middle I grew from seed and are a heritage variety called ‘Red Pear’ that a friend gave me for my birthday last year. I’ve never tried them before but the fruits are supposed to be sweet and pear shaped – you didn’t get that one from the name did you? ha.

A heat-treated wood pallet makes an excellent patio planter. Put wheels on it so you can conveniently move it around to get more sun or just to make space for socializing.

A heat-treated wood pallet makes an excellent patio planter.

Last year I built a pallet planter on wheels and have been using it to grow greens in ever since. It’s perfect for my patio since it creates more growing space and can be moved easily. The idea is that you can move it into or our of the sun or just move it someplace else if you’re entertaining and need space.

In it I was originally growing veg in rows but have since realized  that I was wasting a lot of space. Now I place a wooden divider inside and broadcast lettuce and spinach seeds across an entire area. It maximizes growth and also helps to keep the compost from drying out since plants cover most of the compost.

The Vegetable Garden in early June: Mulching with straw, Wildlife Pond update, installing a Garden Mailbox, getting sunburned, and what's growing.

The allotment vegetable garden really comes to life in June.

Back at the allotment my new plot is coming on a treat. There’s only a small area still covered in plastic and I have a lot of perennial fruit and vegetables shooting up. The strawberry bed is flowering and starting to produce green fruit so I’ll be mulching it with straw this week and covering it with a net to keep out birds. It looks like I’ll need to net up my blueberries too since they are producing a lot of green berries. I haven’t had a good yield of them before but this year it looks like I might be in for a bumper crop!

Blueberries beginning to grow.

Each of these will swell into a plump blueberry.

The Wildlife Pond that I built a couple of weeks ago is starting to settle and the flag iris and marsh marigolds I planted inside are putting down roots. I’ve also rehomed some tadpoles into the pond – they were given to me by a friend and I found out only afterwards that you’re not supposed to move frog spawn on the Isle of Man. I’m presuming that means tadpoles too. Apparently there are  frog diseases on the island that can be spread around so please if you’re considering your own pond, wait for frogs to move in naturally.

A Wildlife Pond will encourage frogs to move into your garden. Frogs eat slugs so are a great natural defense against garden pests.

A Wildlife Pond will encourage frogs to move into your garden. Frogs eat slugs so are a great natural defense against garden pests.

It’s a bit late now for my pond but the tadpoles that now call my pond home seem to be healthy and are doing well. There’s a bit of pond weed that I’ve put in the water for them but I’ve also been feeding them cold-water fish flakes.

I’ve also decided to net the pond until the froglings are bigger – I don’t want birds sitting along the edge and treating it like their own personal buffet. One side is open though so if any thirsty animals want to have a sip they’re welcome to stop by. There must be a lot of thirsty animals since most of the smaller streams have dried up and I have to refill the pond every two days now. It evaporates by half in that space of time.

Tadpoles in the garden pond.

Tadpoles in the Wildlife Pond.

Another new addition to my plot is an American style mailbox. I’m the secretary of our gardening association so sometimes need our members to drop off forms. Already people are doing so and putting the flag up when there’s something inside.

I’m also using the box to store some of my hand tools in. I have a bag of them in the shed but it’s more convenient to just store them on my plot. I have to admit that I recently forgot that my tools were inside though and I was rooting around the shed trying to find my favourite garden tool. I had to laugh when I remembered where it was!

A mailbox in the garden can be used for storing tools. In my community garden I also use it to receive notes and forms from our members.

A mailbox in the garden can be used for storing tools. In my community garden I also use it to receive notes and forms from our members.

There’s loads more to do in the garden, as always, and I’m looking forward to more sun-screened afternoons in the garden. My tasks for this week are:

  • Re-planting my two Strawberry Pallet Planters
  • Weeding and mulching my allotment Strawberries with straw
  • Pulling back more of the black plastic and planting my squash
  • Planting up the
    No follow link:
    Greenstalk System planter that was sent to me earlier this spring. Really interested in this small space vertical planter!
Hay waiting to be used as mulch around garden plants.

Hay waiting to be used as mulch around garden plants.

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