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Gardening Advice & Tips for Irish Gardeners

The Weekend Gardener (Part 14)

Even with all the sunshine, the only thing I didn’t have to do this weekend was water my plants. That job is now done at the flick of a switch – or more accurately – a turn of the tap. This leaves me with time to get on with more pressing matters in the garden. With my irrigation system giving an early and regular supply of water and with a warm sunny days, growth rates are really picking up in my raised beds.

Weekend Gardener

This weekend saw a number of tasks on my to do list. My courgettes have started to flower and so they needed some attention. My carrots have put on a great spurt of growth and they needed thinning and elsewhere a general tidy up was needed.

One problem that courgettes can face is the early rotting of their fruit. After flowering, the courgette’s  fruits develop and these need to be kept up off the ground to keep them in their best possible condition. This can be done using straw or mulch. I placed about 4inches of straw underneath each of my courgette plants. I hope to do the same for my squash plants but at this point they are still waging war with the slugs and may be losing the battle. The mulch of straw also has the advantage of keeping weeds down around my crops and if you have a large scale vegetable plot then using straw is a great way to reduce maintenance.

With the straw mulch, each courgette will remain up off the ground and sitting on a dry and airy bed which prevents rot and reduces the risk of powdery mildew. Another cause of rot on courgettes is poor weather conditions. This is common in early Summer, but later in the year healthy courgettes will develop.

I got my first carrot harvest of the year also as I need to thin my carrots. The thinnings were so large that they had developed a decent root and were prefect for a Summer salad with beetroot and salad leaves. With my carrots growing at a steady rate, I am slowly thinning them to a final spacing of 7cm apart. Usually thining is a sad affair of pulling and disposing of young seedlings but now our thinnings offer a mini harvest on their own. Before thinning I watered the crop well – this makes pulling easier and reduces root disturbance and is less likely to attract the carrot fly.

A general weed was needed again but at this point all of my vegetables have out-competed the weeds and the need to weed is less of a matter of life and death for my vegetables. The only remaining concern now is for my butternut squash plants which have struggled with the cold start to the Summer, coupled with the regular onslaught of slugs they are looking a little sad for themselves.

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