Vegetables still need watering despite rain

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

The rains came at just the right time, both for the vegetables and the summer bedding plants.

But be careful, don’t think that just because it has rained vegetables won’t need watering. Quite often rain only soaks into a couple of inches of soil which isn’t enough for the majority of growing vegetables, although bedding plants are usually okay.

If you are one of the gardeners who grows new plants from the runners of old plants, check carefully for any signs of virus. Yellowing of leaves and poor yield are signs.

Strawberries are prone to viruses. If any virus is found pull up the plants and dig the plot adding some well rotted manure. It’s much better if you can move the plants to a new bed.

One question that has cropped up a number of times is why has a hedge thinned and is bare at the base? This is because the hedge wasn’t treated correctly at planting time and during the first two years of its growth. Some of the trouble could be due to poor nutrition but is probably mostly due to incorrect clipping from the time of planting.

To plant correctly, dig a trench and then fork into the bottom of the trench some well rotted manure. By doing this it will also break up the bottom of the trench which in turn makes sure there is good drainage. Without this the bottom of the trench could become waterlogged which would result in failure of the new hedge.

Cover the manure with peat-based compost with some perlite added which will make sure the root area doesn’t dry out. Sprinkle blood, fish and bone on the soil which will be used to fill the trench.

Before placing the plants check for damaged roots which will need to be cut back. Spread the roots and hold the plants in position with a little soil and water well. If the trench is filled before watering it could be that the water will not reach the roots.

Tread in firmly and then loosen the top couple of inches of soil. Use a mulch to keep the moisture in but water frequently in hot weather.

To make sure of growth at the bottom of the hedge (basal growth) the height of most hedges has to be reduced in the first couple of years.

This will encourage the hedge to send out side growths low down. If side growths are trimmed back to tidy the hedge, the trimmed side shoots will sprout further side shoots, giving even denser cover.