Feeding the plants, the ladybirds and ourselves!

This week in the garden….is busy!  We have many fruits and vegetables to look after, feed, weed and water, and some are nearly ready for harvesting. So come along, we’d love to see you!

We are growing a number of different varieties of tomatoes with two distinct growth habits. There are cordon tomatoes and bush tomatoes. 

Our cordon tomatoes which are growing outside, need to have their side shoots regularly pinched out. This is to encourage them to grow tall and not branch in all directions. Newly developing side shoots are easy to recognise as they look like new growing tips that emerge in the leaf axils. We pinch these out. This means that we aim to grow the plants with one main stem from which all the flower trusses and leaves develop. After about five flower trusses we will pinch out the growing tip to stop further upward growth and to encourage the plant to channel its energy into fruit production rather than to continue to grow lots of leaves. This is because we are not interested in eating tomato leaves!

Bush tomatoes are far shorter and have a bushy habitat and we do not pinch out the side shoots of these plants. These plants produce a large number of smaller fruits usually cherry tomato size.

We feed our plants using an organic seaweed extract. There are two sorts of feed we use regularly in the garden. One is SM3 which supports good all round vegetative growth. This means it provides the major essential plant nutrients –  NPK in a well-balanced ratio. (NPK is short hand for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). We use SM3 to support plant growth up to the point where the plant starts to flower.

When a plant is flowering and producing fruit it requires a slightly different mix of nutrients, notably it needs feed that contain high amounts of potassium which promotes flowering and fruiting. Our tomatoes are flowering so we are feeding them this high potassium feed, SM5, once a week.

We have Chard, Peas, Broad Beans, Strawberries, Rhubarb ready to harvest. Volunteers are welcome to take these home with them.  Every day we should also write up on our A Board that these veg and fruit are ready to be picked so that members of the public are enticed to come in and ask for a harvest.  We can show them where they are growing and how to pick them!  Loganberries, raspberries and gooseberries are also nearly ready to harvest.

The grape vine in the greenhouse needs to have its fruit thinned out. In this way we should get fewer but larger bunches of grapes!

A short word too on Bio controls.  This is a term used in the field of pest management in organic gardening and it refers to times when a natural predator is used to help keep a pest population down. There is a striking example of this, (nature in action), if you walk over to the perennial vegetable bed just inside the entrance. There you will see a large silvery, feathery leaved plant, Artemesia. If you look closely you will notice that it is hosting a lot of dark beetle like insects which are in fact ladybird lava. In even larger numbers are the aphids on the stems of this plant. These are a ready five star meal for the ladybirds and their lava to feed on, thus keeping down our plant pests, the aphids.

Here is a photo of ladybird lava eating aphids.For this reason ladybirds and their larva are considered by organic gardeners to be beneficial insects!  https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-ladybird-larva-with-aphids-50397071.html

In other BPCG news

On Sunday June 24th, 11am to 12.30pm, you can learn how to take semi-ripe cuttings with Cat. This is a free and fantastically useful workshop. Highly recommended.  Book here

On Sunday June 24th 12.45 to 2.30pm, don’t forget that we have our end of the month £3 pizzas.  Book here

Also on Sunday June 24th at 3.30pm we have our monthly volunteer meeting.  All are welcome. Please let Kate know if you have items for the agenda.

On Saturday June 30th, 11am to 2pm, Diane Sullock and Penny Walsh are running a Natural Dye workshop when they will teach you environmentally sound methods of the preparation and use of plant dyes on a variety of small fabric and yarn samples.  There are still a few tickets left for this fascinating session. Book here

On Sunday July 1st, 6pm to 9pm, iyatraQuartet Gig at the Greenhouses is happening!  A multi-instrumentalist quartet with violin, cello, bass clarinet and percussion, iyatra are ‘a band who live by their wits and produce something different each night’ Mark T, fRoots. Iyatra will be playing masses of new material from their about-to-be-released second album.
Sunday July 1st 6pm to 9pm. Book online  BPCG volunteers get concessionary rate (£7)

On Sunday July 8th 6pm to 9pmJimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith Gig at the Greenhouses one of the finest duos to have emerged onto the British folk and acoustic scene in recent years. ‘Making common cause between antique songs and present circumstances is one of the grails of modern folk, one this young duo pull of impressively’ The Observer
Book online BPCG volunteers get concessionary rate (£7)

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