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Keep caring-and controlling fast Summer growth

As the earliest crops finish - lettuce, French beans, peas, spinach, cabbage, broccoli etc., new sowings can fill the spaces. I'm sowing Cobra - a climbing French bean - mangetout and sugarsnap peas for Autumn eating. Salad leaves sown now have a long eating season.
          Tomato and cucumber plants respond to careful management. An adequate and regular
water supply is essential - no drying out! Developing fruit benefit from regular liquid feeding.
Reducing the number of flowers per tomato truss ensures healthy development of all the crop. I open vents and door to maximum - better draughty than too humid.                                                                                                                                                    

High summer - think ahead

The higher space in the tunnel will become available by September; it can be used by climbing french beans- Cobra does it well -which yield late beans in plenty.
            Seeds of Cobra sown in late July -in situ or in pots for later planting - will produce fast growing plants to race up the sticks in August and September.
             Tomato plants have ample bulk by now which will feed the later fruits. I'm nursing new trusses, week by week, and shortening them, to develop through late Summer and Autumn. Late
August flowers  give you October fruit! Surplus "cherry" tomatoes freeze well- for direct cooking in Winter.
              Removing the oldest tomato leaves could  reveal space for sowing pak choi, rocket, mustard, mizuna, cress, kailan kichi, and annual spinach. Fast growers every one!








J.A.M. in the polytunnel

Just about managing. The long days with maximum sunshine have produced rampant growth. Careful management is needed.

Big healthy plants should lead to big crops. If all tomato flowers are allowed to fruit, the plants will be overloaded, fruit size reduced and a glut in August will leave exhausted plants with little late yield.

I'm removing complete trusses of tomato flowers and reducing the size of the rest. A strong low sideshoot can remain, and be nursed to continue flowering when the main plant is stopped at about 5 feet. This will give tomatoes in October.

Cucumbers easily overcrop - and then give up early. Allow fruit only on the main stem and remove every other small fruit. The same discipline suits courgettes.

A weekly feed will keep the swelling fruits supplied with resources.

Leaves in the shade do little good - a sharp knife is best for all pruning or trimming. Choose a day when clothes are drying well.

June 11th It's rush-hour in the tunnel!

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All crops are growing fast - likewise the weeds; so - collect larger leafy weeds, chop them up with kitchen by-products. Add some mowings. This mixture can be spread to cover - and protect - bare earth.



TOMATOES

I reduce the load on every tomato truss, while buds are green. As a result, there will be no tiny fruits - every tomato will be edible. All plants with flower or fruits on receive a liquid feed every week. I use Maxicrop.
Tomato plants - and others - produce excessive amounts of leaf. Only those that get direct light do their best, so I cut off shaded leaves. Air movement is improved and mildew spores have reduced chances - and more nutrients reach the well-lit leaves of our precious plants.

End of May.

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I'm still chopping up leafy weeds and vegetable waste, to scatter between plants and rows in the polytunnel; cut grass from the lawn, as well. The generous watering in the hot weather passes through this covering, and less of it evaporates.

June is a good month to erect a new tunnel, so the polythene cover can get tighter through the autumn months. A great variey of crops can be started from late July to September.

I once planted dahlias in a polytunnel



 - it was a mistake.

Sweet peas and chrysanthemums make good autumn crops. Order chrysanth plants now.

I'm sowing more rocket, spinach, tatsoi and other quick leaves to make salad and later chopped leaves to scatter.

mid May

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Busy, busy. Everything is growing fast. Leafy weeds and surplus spinach are mixed with vegetable waste from the kitchen, chopped with a sharp spade then scattered between growing plants. Very little soil is visible.

We are harvesting broad beans, mange tout pease, cabbage,  calabrese, spinach and salad greens - some from autumn sowings.





 Sunday dinner









 I'm sowing small patches or rows as space allows with rocket, cress, tatsoi, radish, mustard, spinach - even a few sugar snap peas. These will use nearly all available light - with speedy returns.


Tunnel watering.

In a sunny week - as forecast - leaves will lose lots of water; so roots need a plentiful and constant supply.
One generous watering can last for days, much better than a daily top-up. After watering, cover the wet surface with chopped green leaves and/or grass mowings - plentifully, but loosely. Add a bit more surface material at any time.
Replenish water after three or four days according to the weather. Young plants may benefit from light shading.
Empty spaces can be sown with spinach (not perpetual); the young leaves make good salad. Eventually chop up the large old leaves for ground cover and sow some more!