Over the growing season it's a good idea to care for your existing plants to keep them happy and healthy. This will ensure they keep rewarding you with fresh homegrown food.
Follow our handy guide below and learn how to enjoy your crops for longer!
Now more than ever there is more enjoyment to be had from a quiet wander around the garden. The feeling of grass between your toes, a new flower in bloom or fruiting coming along on trees and edibles – it’s amazing what you can spot from one day to the next and how much you can enjoy just by looking.
Doing this regularly allows you to observe the plants you have growing in the garden, and if you spot something that needs attention it can be tended to quickly so it doesn’t become as much of a problem or task. This includes spotting pests and diseases on plants, flowers that need deadheading, weeds and plants looking hungry or unhappy.
If frosts are forecast, remember to cover any tender seedlings with a grow tunnel, frost cloth, glass or a homemade cloche (you can get creative with coverings!) The idea is to create a warm, sheltered environment for your plants.
Pest and disease control
If you spot any bugs on your plants try blasting them off with a hose or digital control – squishing with your fingers.
- Spray aphid infested stems, leaves, and buds with very diluted soapy water, then clear water.
- Mites and other insects: Mix two tablespoons of hot pepper or cayenne pepper with a few drops of soap into two pints of water. Let it stand overnight and then spray.
- With plenty of leafy greens and brassicas going in the ground over autumn, it is a good idea to cover these crops with a layer of fine netting to stop white cabbage butterfly laying their eggs on your plants.
- Autumn is also a busy time for slugs and snails. If you don’t have any Tui Quash on hand, try cracked egg shells around seedlings or beer traps! If you can give up a small amount of your favourite ale – leave a wide jar in the garden that will attract slugs that will crawl in and drown.
Remove diseased plant material and burn or bin rather than compost to avoid spreading disease.
Plants need to be fed to stay happy! They use nutrients from the soil as they grow so replenishing nutrients during the growing season keeps plants healthy and maximises production.
- Keep adding organic matter like sheep pellets and compost to your soil, and feed your plants with a general fertiliser or one specially blended for your plant or crop.
- Apply Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic at least once a month to help keep your garden healthy and strengthen against insects and disease.
- With the main DIY and garden stores being closed currently, check at your local supermarket for fertiliser options if you don’t already have some on hand. It is also a great time utilise homemade options including compost and worm tea from your worm farm! Dilute your worm tea with water at a 1:10 ratio and feed your whole garden with your homemade fertiliser.
Keep on top of weeding as weeds can harbour overwintering insect eggs and fungal spores. Weeds also use nutrients from the soil that your plants could be using.
Keep your garden well watered. Regular deep soakings are better than shallow watering. Water early in the day or later in the evening, taking care to water the soil not the foliage where possible, to limit encouraging disease.
Collect rainwater in buckets or barrels to help save on water!
Mulch your garden to suppresses weed growth and helps keep soil moist. If you don’t have any mulch on hand you can make your own using autumn leaves that have fallen – spread them around your veges to help keep weeds down, grass clippings from the lawn, pine needles and straw you might already have.
Deadhead flowers that are spent to make room for fresh new blooms and prune back summer flowering perennials and bulbs that have finished for the season, to tidy up garden borders and beds.
Save and dry seeds of summer flowers for sowing in the spring.
- Harvest in 2-3 years