This week’s jobs with Tom Cole of Writtle College

The Kitchen Gardener

Continue to pinch out the side shoots of cordon tomatoes.  This conserves energy and re directs it where the flowers/ fruits are forming.

Deadhead herbs unless collecting seed for future sowing or use as a seasoning.  Simply use shears on plants such as thyme, oregano and marjoram.  Plants will continue to send out new lush sappy growth and maintain a compact form.  If collecting seed, clean and store in paper packets in a cool, dry and dark place.

Sow beetroot, Calabrese, kohlrabi, oriental greens and salad onions.

sowing toms tips

Dig in early sowings of green manures before they flower.  These are ideal for improving soil fertility for subsequent crops and for keeping soil erosion and leaching to a bare minimum.

Sow endive, oriental and winter salad leaves, radishes, spinach, spring cabbage and turnips.

Be vigilant throughout the summer period for blight on main crop potatoes, spraying where necessary.  Infection can be reduced by earthing up deeply.  If the haulms start to show symptoms, infected leaves should be removed as soon as they begin to die down.  The following show good resistance: ‘Cara’, ‘Estima’, ‘Kondor’, ‘Maris Piper’, ‘Pentland Crown’, ‘Record’ and ‘Romano’.  Spray with a copper based fungicide.

The Lawn

Continue to add combination weed, feed and moss killer products – but always remember to read the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully.  These compounds contain growth regulators that persist in grass clippings.  If added to the compost straight away and used before the year is out as garden mulch, there could be growth problems for your choice ornamentals.  Let the clippings rest in a separate pile for up to eight months before incorporating into general garden compost.

tc lawn care 2

If the weather becomes too hot reduce the height of cut.  This will conserve water and keep the lawn relatively green in appearance.

Try not to turf or seed lawns at when water is a limiting factor.  The best time to seed a lawn is April/ May and again September/ October.  Although technically lawns can be turfed at any time of the year, it would be easier on you to do this when the ground is not frozen, turf is freely available and there is adequate water supply (not in hot weather).

The Flower Gardener

Dead heading bedding plants on a regular basis to promote more flowers, reduces pest and disease problems, maintains a more compact plant and therefore increases the seasonal interest.

Continue to tie in sweet peas for cut flowers: remove flowers just before their prime cleanly from the main stem, remove tendrils and tie the stem to the framework with garden twine.  Keep well watered.

There is still time to sow spring bedding plants such as Erysimum chieri (wall flower), Myosotis alpestris (Forget-me-not) and Primula cvs., ready for planting out this autumn.

Continue to provide support to taller herbaceous perennials using link stakes and or brushwood.

Cut down by half Clematis viticella cultivars to get another smaller flush of flowers later this summer.

Timesaving Tips

With the busy lifestyles we all have today, it’s hard to get around to all the necessary garden tasks.  Here are two tips that may make those chores easier:

Keep your tools in one place so they’re easy to get to.  A plastic water butt works well as a storage bin for a selection of your most frequently used hand tools, and it’s easy to carry around the garden.  Keeping all your tools together will save you many a trip to the garden shed.

When you rake, put your leaves in plastic bags, and let them compost there.  This method saves the trouble of turning a compost pile, and once the leaves have composted, it’s easy to take the bags to the desired spot and spread the compost around. To start the compost process, squeeze the air from the filled bags, poke holes in them to make sure air can reach the leaves, and add some water.

Good luck and happy gardening!

For any gardening tips why not contact Tom Cole, Head of Faculty for Land & Environment, Writtle College, Chelmsford, CM1 3RR by post (including a SAE) or by email at


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