Gardening Magazine

Milestones

By Mwillis
Some of my vegetable crops have passed significant milestones in their development this week.
For instance, the "Boltardy" Beetroot have discernible swollen roots now. [This photo is zoomed, btw.]
Milestones
The Courgette plant has opened its first flower, a female. None of the male flowers look ready to pollinate it though...
Milestones
My "Long Red Florence" onions, grown from seed, are finally beginning to show some signs of redness, though you do have to look closely to see them.
Milestones
The first Runner Bean stems have reached the cross-bar of their support-system, 8 feet above the soil level, and I have pinched them out in order to promote the formation of side-shoots lower down.
Milestones
And further down the plants the first flowers are beginning to show some color.
Milestones
Almost all the tomato plants, with the exception of some of the Beefsteak types, have set lots of little fruit. This one is "Costoluto Fiorentino".
Milestones
For several days now we have been experiencing hot, dry weather ("Hot" means 25C + in these parts!), and the longest spell of over-30-degree temperatures for more than 20 years. This has certainly helped the plants to grow quickly, but it has also brought with it the need to do lots of watering. I have many of my plants in pots and containers, which do tend to dry out very rapidly, so they need watering every day (sometimes twice) when it is hot like this.
Just a few tips on this theme:
1. Plastic pots tend to be better than terracotta ones, because they are not porous and therefore retain moisture better. However, the loss of water via evaporation can also be useful because of its cooling effect!
2. It's best to water in the evening or in the very early morning, so that water loss via evaporation is minimised, and the plants have time to make use of the water you give them.
3. If possible, equip your pots with saucers, which retain some of the water which would otherwise just run away and be wasted. Like these:-
Milestones
4. Whether using a watering-can or hose, make sure that you water the roots of the plant not the leaves.
5. It's better to water more copiously but less often, so that water has the chance to penetrate down to the roots of your plants instead of just dampening the surface of the soil / compost.
6. If you are short of time for watering, try to concentrate on the plants that are most in need - ones which will suffer very quickly if not kept hydrated - e.g. the cucurbit family.
7. Another strategy for the time-strapped gardener is to make a rota (be it written or mental) for which plants get watered when, so that everything gets a turn and you don't just water the same few plants every day.
8.[Added to my list because I have just been watching a Starling drinking from my bird-bath] As well as watering your plants, don't forget to provide water for birds and animals, who need it for drinking and for bathing (I'm sure they feel the heat just like we do...)

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