Outdoor plants get their marching orders

It's full steam ahead in the garden over this Bank Holiday weekend.

Saturday, 26th May 2018, 2:33 pm
The strawberry bed and apple blossom. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

In late May, when the greenhouse is overcrowded, you have to give marching orders to all plants destined for the great outdoors.

The plan is to move pots from the floor and thin-out the overcrowded benches.

Summer residents only under glass by Monday is the target.

This involves planting nine each of Brussels sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli, enough to keep this household going throughout winter.

They presently stand tall and strong in one-litre pots, roots just emerging through the bottom.

This, along with firm planting, provides the ideal start, but it must be followed up by netting the whole raised island bed that supports them.

This offers protection from the latest generation of bold-as-brass wood pigeons, but more importantly, it is an early stand against the pending appearance of cabbage white butterflies.

Ensure the netting used is fine enough to prevent their entry.

One cluster of eggs laid on the underside of a leaf is enough to spread through the crop.

Plants of sweet corn, presently standing 20cm tall, will leave their pots with a good root ball and get straight into growth, thanks to the

organic-rich soil.

Go for block planting, rather than in straight rows, because this works best with wind-pollinated subjects, such as corn-on-the-cob.

Planting out types bred for the North as June approaches generally results in plump cobs ripening around late August, and what a treat that is when they’re steamed, introduced to a knob of butter and served as starters.

A few Kelsae onions remain to be planted, not for show, just winter storage, which they handle well. They remain surprisingly sweet for their size.

Leeks that will be good for harvesting from November onward are ready to go out now. They’re fully 20cm from tip to toe.

Once the land’s prepared for them the simplest way to plant is with an old-fashioned dibber.

Make a series of upright holes, circa 10cm deep, along a row, trim the leek tops to reduce transpiration, then place one in each hole.

Water them in with the can, minus its rose attachment.

Any runner bean or courgette plants emerging from seed in this open garden have always been in a race to outgrow slug attention at ground level, but not now.

Planting rapidly maturing specimens directly from pots keeps them well ahead of the menace.