Here in the UK we love our unpredictable weather.
We love barbecueing indoors, picnicking on ground sheets and going to the office in our wellies.
But our plants haven't loved the lower than normal temperatures and lack of sunlight, so we aren't able to enjoy the produce of our vegetable gardens as much as our dear friend Mr Slug (another matter entirely).
But the question is - can we do anything about it?
The good news is - YES!
And being experts in plant protection (even if we say so ourselves) we have a pretty good idea of exactly which products will help you make the most of a poor summer.
Here are just 4 ways that you can make a world of difference in your garden NOW:
The main picture (above) shows my little garden - nothing is growing especially well, apart from the weeds, a self seeded Ash tree, and the herbs growing under my Victorian Bell Cloche. The vents are opened during rainy days and closed at night. The only downside to this method is that you must remember to lift the cloche right off your plants on hot sunny days. Otherwise they'll cook before you've even decided what recipe to use them in!
These do three wonderful things to your veg plot:
1) Protect your plants from weather
2) Protect your plants from pests
3) Increase and maintain higher air temperature
We sell Easy Tunnels - they're quick, easy and fairly inexpensive with lots of deals on at the moment in most garden centres. But you can also make your own - go for it! Make sure you use Haxnicks plant protection fabrics, bamboo hoops and ground pegs if you want something that will last you more than just one season.
If you've spent all your money on seeds and slug pellets though, there are other options. You can use an old sheet of polythene draped over a few pieces of blue tubing secured with tent pegs which is fine if you don't care too much for how it looks.
Please note, it is really important to think about ventilation on sunny days. Humidity can become a problem, leading to mildew and various diseases. Scorching (if we get enough sun) is a problem too, and if you don't allow pollinating insects at your flowers, of course you won't get any fruit.
If you use a tunnel cloche you will ensure that your normal growing season is extended - that means you'll be able to harvest earlier and later in the year than anyone else.
Using mesh in the garden in summer is pretty standard nowadays - and essential if you want to keep the bugs off your edible crops.
But it also makes the perfect shelter - from sun, wind and rain - letting in the right amounts of light, air and moisture.
You can either buy Enviromesh or Micromesh depending on how fine a gauge you need. Buy Micromesh if you want to guarantee protection from whitefly and other aphids.
Micromesh Products include Micromesh Pre Pack Fabric, Micromesh Pest and Wind Barrier, Micromesh Giant Easy Tunnel, Micromesh Raised Bed cover and Grower System (see below) Pest Protection Cover.
If you are lucky enough to own one of these, you will probable be using it more often than usual due to the cooler weather.
Keep as many tender, non-indigenous fruit and vegetables (eg Tomatoes, Peppers and Beans) under glass. These plants need as much warmth and sunlight as they can get.
If you are planning to grow climbing veg in your greenhouse because of the weather, then you might want to think about using a patio planter which you can move outside on sunny days.
You might want to use a special planter dolly to help you though. Planters can get pretty heavy with all the soil, canes and fruit (fingers crossed!)
If you don't have the space or simply can't afford a greenhouse, there are loads of lower cost options, including:
- Conservatories, Porches or Windowsills
- Cold Frames
- Growhouses or our Grower System
If you have any questions about any of the methods or products featured in this blog post then please let us know using the comments section below. You can also call us, email and write to us - or why not see if your nearest Haxnicks stockist can help?
We'll cover slugs in the next blog - there are many ways to defeat them, stay tuned to the Haxblog for more top tips...