Kitchen Garden: Summer
Summer is all about harvest: buckets of tomatoes, cucumbers and beans are flooding into the kitchen. The only challenge is finding enough tomato recipes!
The Ross family patch. Photo - Luisa Brimble
Our organic care regime for summer-fruiting vegetables is relentless. Every weekend we give them a little nudge in the right direction – closer to our kitchen bench! This is our week-by-week jobs list.
Seaweed solution to strengthen cell walls and help plants fight off insect attack. Apply to leaves and roots.
Liquid fertiliser to promote fruit quality and quantity. We like Harvest, Powerfeed, Uplift and homemade comfrey fertiliser. Apply fertiliser on the surface of the soil around the plant.
Fight powdery mildew with nature’s own solution, worm liquid. Dilute 1:10 with water and spray on pumpkins, zucchini and tomatoes.
Photo - Federico Rostagno/Shutterstock.com
English marigold (Calendula) is a powdery mildew indicator as it succumbs early to the disease. The white discolouration of the leaf is a warning to spray tomatoes, zucchini and pumpkins. Worm wee is a good prevention, and if mildew strikes spray with Ecofungicide. Early treatment is the key as mildew spreads fast in humid weather. As a bonus the tangerine petals of marigolds are edible and look great tossed on a summer salad
Beat fruit fly. Hang fruit fly lures (from either Eco organic garden or Yates) or drape a mosquito net supported on PVC pipes over your tomatoes to prevent fruit fly stinging your fruit.
Photo - Shebeko/Shutterstock.com
Sow another round of summer vegetables to carry the harvest through autumn. We‘re planting another tepee of tomato, cucumber and beans.
Tomato seeds can be sown direct into a bare spot in the garden or into a large pot. As the plant grows remove the lower leaves and any yellowing leaves to prevent the spread of fungal diseases.
Sprinkle basil seed anywhere there’s room. Pinch out the growing tips to encourage plants to bush up.
Sunflowers brighten up the summer garden and attract bees. Sow three or four seeds into each hole and remove all but the strongest when they are about 6cm. Expect flowers six weeks after sowing.
Pretty pink-skinned borlotti beans grow to a dwarf bush size. Eat fresh or dry for winter soups.
Blueberries are delicious with breakfast, whether it’s cereal, yoghurt or – special treat - ricotta hotcakes! When the harvest overwhelms, freeze the berries for alter use in smoothies and ice blocks.
Some varieties of zucchini, including the popular ‘Black Jack’, will provide one zucchini every second day. Keep picking or they’ll grow into inedible monsters.
Cucumbers, whether white, green, gherkin, pickling or Lebanese are best chilled in the crisper rather than eaten warm and fresh from the bush.
Photo - Andrey Shtanko/Shutterstock.com
Gently digging around the surface of your potato plants may yield some sweet little babies. These are delicious. Don’t delay, eat them straight away.
Beans are the ultimate ‘free lunch’ crop – they need picking night and day. Pick when small, steam til just tender, then drizzle with a good quality fruity olive oil and sprinkle with Murray River salt flakes. Perfect.
Fruiting vegetables need a dose each of liquid fertiliser, seaweed and worm liquid each month.
Side-dress tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum with blood and bone mid-summer. To do it dig a shallow trench just a few centimetres deep around the dripline of the plant and sprinkle in the fertiliser. Cover with soil.
Push along eggplant and capsicum with foliar feeds. These plants do best in the hottest part of the garden and later in summer, peaking in autumn.