P and A Gardening diary

Spring is here...

APRIL is of course just around the corner and it is now the ideal time to choose your fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes, aubergines and peppers. These vegetables are sensitive to the cold and therefore they will grow much better in a polytunnel or greenhouse...

You will find that some types of fruiting vegetables may be sown directly outside in late Spring (courgettes are a good example) but otherwise you can start the process by sowing indoors in small pots but make sure you provide them with some heat! It will help the plant and ensure a good crop later in the Summer

When growing outdoors in your polytunnel it's important to remember that this time of year can sometimes be a bit unpredictable so it's possible that the nights can still be very cold for young plants, or even quite warm, especially as the month progresses. You therefore need to be prepared...think about protecting tender plants with cloches or fleece, or even newspaper. Glass jars or cut down lemonade bottles may also be useful

However, as we have seen in recent years April can be very warm and of course the days are longer and often brighter. If this is the case you need to ventilate your polytunnel by opening doors and ventilation screens

Fruiting vegetables generally grow well in containters such as grow bags or pots (about 25cm) filled with compost. Make sure you feed and water regularly, if the compost dries out it can lead to problems later in the season

Last year tomato blight was a major problem for many growers resulting in crops being lost or reduced. However, these types of plants are still fun to grow and are an essential element in many cooking recipes and salads so are well worth a go! There are varieties being developed which are considered to be blight resistant (eg Fandango and Lizzano) which can be bought directly from the suppliers

If you do grow from seed, when the roots of the tomato seedlings reach the outside of the pot it's time to give them some more space so move them into larger containers and watch them grow!

Finally, every gardener knows that they share their garden with a plethora of insects and other wildlife but watch out for greenfly and other pests on your plants. It's even worthwhile tipping out your potted plants to check for grubs that may have settled amongst the roots

Ask us for help if you'd like to find out more about growing plants in polytunnels