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June 2020

Glorious June is upon us and we certainly need it this year to cheer us and get us out and busy in the garden. The garden should be full of zest, all fresh and young. Ditto the keen gardener. Plenty of us have had an abnormal amount of time this year to give to the garden; great for our wellbeing and our gardens might reflect this by looking the best ever.

We should aim to get the last few bedding plants into their permanent homes, along with tender crops like tomatoes, peppers and aubergines asap. Early planting out gives them more time to get established before the heat of high summer and a longer growing season for bigger better plants and crops.

Many of us grow tomatoes – either in pots, growbags or in the soil. Growbags (if adequately watered) produce soft, lush plants, whereas soil-grown plants have a harder life and can be smaller but often have a more concentrated flavour than their ‘softer’ peers. I prefer soil-grown tomatoes, but each option has its pros and cons:

  • Growbag- and container-grown plants need more water – you may need a willing neighbour if you go on holiday at the ‘wrong’ time (fat chance this year). They are also prone to ‘sap-suckers’ like aphids, white fly and red spider mite
  • Soil-grown plants spread their roots and can draw on greater reserves (reducing the burden on neighbours) but they are at risk of potato blight (tomatoes and potatoes are from the same family). The blight spores rest in the soil and can be splashed onto tomato leaves by the rain.

That’s gardening for you‼

June is the time for roses – and, gosh, they are lovely. One of the joys of lockdown has been the ambling walks through the countryside and local villages. The fields and hedgerows are lovely but looking at the gardens of Beedon, Peasemore and Winterbourne is a real joy. The spring colour has been lovely and the roses are laden with buds. We can enjoy other people’s efforts with little conscience.

You can plant gladioli before the end of the month – plant the corms about 5 or 6 inches deep and, preferably, on light, drier soil and in the sun. They flower spectacularly and look good in groups of 5-15 amongst other plants. I like a short row of them in the veg patch to provide cut flowers later in the season and impress the family and neighbours. Pheasant Acre Plants (South Wales) grows wonderful ‘Glads’, from the full-sized 4 footers to dainty Nanus varieties. They usually win Gold Medals at Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows and have a very tempting website.

Happy and active quarantining, Giles Derry

Dates for your diary – planned!

Saturday 5 September. Autumn Flower Show at 2.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Sadly, autumn approaches, but this is our biggest show of the year and the hall will be brimming with Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, vegetables and fruit.

Wednesday 14 October. 7.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Overwintering Fuchsias. Derek Dexter will show us how to keep your plants for next year. Guests and non-members (both £2) are always welcome.

Wednesday 11 November 7.30pm in Chieveley Village Hall. Annual General Meeting followed by wine and nibbles.