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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 18 July, 2018
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GIY: 'As we move in to summer, it’s important to keep sowing'

There are still loads of vegetables that you can sow from seed, writes Michael Kelly.

Michael Kelly Grower

LIKE MOST GIYers I did a little rain dance with the arrival of rain this week after nearly a month of drought conditions. What a fickle bunch we are. Not so long back we were cursing how wet the soil was after nearly EIGHT months of incessant winter.

Then we seemed to skip spring altogether and bounce straight into a fantastic summer.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d much prefer a little heatwave to our more standard climate, but the daily watering outside was somewhat of a chore.

I suppose that beautiful warm sunshine by day followed by a decent shower of rain at night would be the ideal weather pattern for this time of the year. That’s not much to ask is it?

Veg patch

Things are progressing well in the veg patch. I’ve sowed my main crop carrots – it might seem a little late, but by waiting until now you get quick germination (within a few days, as opposed to 2-3 weeks it can take when you sow them back in April or May).

Unusually, parsnip germination was really poor this year. I used new seed as I always do (with parsnip seeds being notoriously perishable) so I think it was the dry weather that perhaps dried the seed out. I am going to try re-sowing even though it’s probably too late, but at least I might have some smaller roots to eat in the winter.

In the potting shed I am still nursing along the important winter/spring brassicas – purple sprouting broccoli and Brussels sprouts. These have been planted in to larger pots now to get them really big and hardy before exposing them to the various pests that love to munch them – pigeons, slugs, caterpillars and so on. I also planted out all my peppers (mix of bell and chilli) in the smaller tunnel this week.

Squash plants

We managed to plant out about 70 of the pumpkin/squash plants I sowed in the area beside the big tunnel in the field beside our house. I had about 30 plants left over which I’ve given in to be sold in GROW HQ. The rain arrived in the nick of time to save me having to water the plants that I planted out. There shouldn’t be much to do with them now, unless dry conditions return.

Tomatoes are progressing well in the tunnel, with side shooting the main job at this stage. It’s amazing how quickly the side-shoots grow.

Our neighbour Bridget who helps us out in return for some fresh veg comes once a week earlier in the week to do it, and then I do it again at the weekend. It’s a small price to pay for having really productive plants.

We’re only a few days away from the first courgettes from the two plants I put in the big tunnel. The outside-sown ones are a couple of weeks away still. We’ve been harvesting broad beans for weeks now from outside, and beetroot and calabrese (broccoli) from the small tunnel.

We’ve also an abundance of leaves (lettuce, oriental greens, kale, spinach and chard) and our first strawberries. New potatoes are not quite ready yet, but I will probably try the first harvest in a week or so.

Keep sowing

As we move in to summer, it’s important to keep sowing to make sure you extend your harvesting year.

A lot of GIYers believe it’s too late to sow seeds for this year. In fact there are still loads of vegetables that you can sow from seed including: beans (French and Runner), kale, pea, spinach, spinach beet, summer broccoli, carrot, swede, leek, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, beetroot, chicory, endive, turnip, kohlrabi, fennel.

You may also be able to get your hands on the following as seedlings or small plants in your local garden centre (or indeed the GIY shop): leeks, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, autumn cauliflower, calabrese, sprouting broccoli, celery, celeriac, cucumbers, pumpkin, marrows, runner beans, aubergine. 

The Basics – Growing Good Aubergines 

I sometimes think that aubergines are easy to grow, but hard to grow well if you know what I mean. I find the plants easy to raise, but it’s a harder job to get good fruit.

At this stage you should have plants ready for planting out (or you could buy them in a garden centre). You can either plant them out in a greenhouse or polytunnel (spacing is 40cm for standard varieties) or grow them in a 20cm pot in good potting compost.

Aubergines like some humidity so you can place some buckets of water between plants so there is some evaporation happening near them. Removing the growing point of the main stem when the plant is about 25cm high will help to encourage the plant to produce fruit on the side shoots.

Once you have about 5 good fruits per plant developing, remove excess side shoots and new flowers. Water well and feed every two weeks with a liquid feed (tomato feed or comfrey tea).

Recipe of the Week – Broad Bean and Mint Bruschetta 

The mint and broad beans combine really well to give a lovely, fresh summer recipe with a slightly decadent feel.

Ingredients 

  • 250g cooked broad beans
  • Handful grated parmesan plus a few shavings, to finish
  • A couple of slugs extra-virgin olive oil
  • A small bunch of mint, leaves only, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 French stick or small ciabatta, cut into 8 thin slices and toasted 

Directions 

Put the cooked broad beans in a bowl and lightly crush. Season, then mix in the grated parmesan, mint and a slug of olive oil. Rub the slices of toasted bread with the garlic. Top with the broad bean mix, drizzle over a little more oil and finish with parmesan shavings.

Michael Kelly is founder of GIY and GROW HQ. 

Click here for more GIY tips and recipes.

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About the author:

Michael Kelly  / Grower

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