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This month in the garden - 2022

June in the Garden

If you have managed to stay on schedule, your summer garden will be planted up and looking nice and neat. If you are a bit behind, don’t worry. Melons, watermelons, pumpkins, courgettes, cucumbers, okra and corn can still be direct sown. There is enough time for them to grow to harvest. Any tomato, chilli, pepper or aubergine plants still lurking around can go in the ground now too. It's still time to plant sweet potato slips and basil, and of course, beans. Direct sow all kinds of beans at monthly intervals; french beans, soya, yard long and lab lab can ensure a continuous harvest.

On the downside, it's the time of year that perennial grasses really start to take hold. It pays to weed them out by the roots. Don't just hoe or pull the tops off. Use a tool to get down deep and dig out the roots. A small hand fork works well and for really deep-rooted weeds, like dock, mallow and cañota, try an asparagus knife. The long forked tongue-like blade can be slipped down deep to get to the bottom of the root and lever it out. The more time you spend now eradicating these monsters while they are small, the less pain you will feel later. Meanwhile, continue to tie up the tomatoes and pinch out the side shoots regularly. Give the peppers and aubergines some support poles if they need them.

It's important to get into the habit of harvesting your crops regularly. Pick those courgettes as soon as they are big enough to eat. Don't let one get so big that the plant thinks its done its job and put all its energy into setting seeds in that one big fruit, because it won't put out any more flowers. The more you harvest, the more fruit the plant produces. The same goes for beans, aubergines, peppers and okra.

Plan now for a bumper harvest. How are you going to process and store your gluts? Are you going to sun dry tomatoes? Make lots of tomato sauce and chutney? Are you prepared? Do you have a solar dryer and plenty of empty jam jars? And enough time to make the most of your produce, and not let it go to waste on the ground?

Whether you consume main stream media, alternative media or wear a tin foil hat, the same message is coming over pretty loud and clear at the moment. Pick a rabbit hole and go down it; the war in Ukraine, climate change, inflation, post-capitalism, fertiliser shortages, disruption in the shipping system, rising fuel prices, the lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing, they all lead to the same conclusion. Food shortages. Ask yourself this question. If you go shopping and can't find the food you want, either because there isn't any or because you can't afford to pay the ever-rising prices, what will you do? Will you start a food riot and smash up the shop? Go and steal some food or money from your neighbour? Eat your pets? Ask the government to feed you? (Before you try this one, I suggest you watch the 1973 classic Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston).

Or will you go home and eat some lovely fresh organic vegetables from your garden and maybe a couple of boiled eggs, if you have chickens? Plant as much food as you can in your garden. We don't know what is coming. The more food we have to feed ourselves and our families and neighbours, the better. Even if, after all the propaganda and scare stories from the media, things do miraculously go back to “normal”, we will still have an abundance of lovely natural food to eat. Don’t forget, it takes three months minimum to get a harvest from planting, so if you haven't already, start now.

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