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Tokely's Tales - Andrew Tokely's gardening blog

Tokely's Tales - Andrew Tokely's Monthly Gardening Blog

July 2012

The garden and plot are saturated and the forecast is for more rain to continue this month. I’ve already recorded over 60mm of rain in my gauge in the past 2 weeks.

Andrew Tokely's summer bedding display and perennial border

Despite the weather the garden has been looking colourful and the majority of the summer bedding is blooming, although some of the bedding geraniums are struggling to open and, like us, all long for a few extra days of sunshine.

The perennials have lasted longer than normal years; surprisingly I still have the last of the delphiniums in bloom along with some foxgloves, which have normally finished by now. As soon as the delphiniums finish flowering I will be cutting them back to within about 30cm (12in) of soil level, which should hopefully encourage new shoots to appear and possibly provide a late autumn second flush of colour.

The new rose bushes planted last autumn have already bloomed once this year and have been cut back to a strong pair of leaves after flowering. These are now budding up again and will soon look spectacular once more. These roses are planted in a small border in the front garden along with lavender, old English thyme and some dianthus, all adding fragrance as you make your way to the front door.

Andrew Tokely's begonia basket and 3-tiered geranium planter

Baskets and containers are flourishing and are being fed with a high potash feed once a week. The begonia wall basket and the 3-tier stand of trailing geraniums are starting to make a really make a show.

In the greenhouse the tomatoes are setting their trusses of fruit and the plants have already reached the roof, so have had their tops pinched out. Cucumbers are growing well and starting to set fruit, which indicates I must start feeding them with a high nitrogen feed. I use dried blood, 1 teaspoon per plant sprinkled around the base of each plant and watered in.

Also in the greenhouse the specimen begonias I grow for exhibition are still looking good and visitors to the garden love to admire the many blooms up to 10-15cm (4-6in) across. My daily routine is to look in this greenhouse each morning and evening to check on their progress, plus their bright colours cheer you up on a dull, damp day of which we have had plenty lately.

Andrew Tokely's savoy cabbages & broccoli and potatoes with the tops cut off

On the vegetable plot the crops have really moved on, but just like the flowers, long for a few extra days sun. I have finished picking peas and this space has been replanted with winter savoys, cauliflowers and broccoli. Shallots have been lifted and again the space filled with lettuce, radish and kohl rabi as it is always easier to keep the ground clean when it’s full of crops.

One hazard of so much rain is potato blight and this has already appeared on our allotment site, almost a month earlier than normal. To avoid this ruining the whole crop I have already cut all the foliage off and burnt the tops on a bonfire. The tubers will be ok and will be left in the ground untouched for a couple of weeks allowing time for the tubers to set their skins before lifting to store.

Andrew Tokely's exhibition onions & leeks and carrots ready to pull

My large Bunton's Showstopper onions are looking promising, but I am closely watching the foliage for any signs of downy mildew. I have already given the plants a preventative spray with a suitable fungicide, but with it being so wet, this will have to be repeated as soon as weather allows. The exhibition leeks have had their drain pipes put over the top to blanch the stems, these are growing very well and look promising for the September shows. I am pulling beetroot and the carrots will be ready in a few days time and my parsnips look very good, let’s hope the roots look as good as the tops do at present. The brassicas have loved this wet weather and the Brussels sprouts are already over 60cm (2ft) tall and the large cabbages are beginning to swell.

Andrew Tokely's courgettes - white blotches are nothing to worry about

My courgettes and marrows are setting fruit very well and look very healthy. Gardeners should not be worried by the white blotches on the foliage - this is a natural characteristic of some varieties.

One of my favourite vegetables are French and runner beans, these are blooming well and the first few beans appear to be setting, but it’s going to be a couple of weeks before I am going to be able to enjoy a good plate full. Still, all good things come to those that wait!

Happy Gardening!

Andrew Tokely, Head of Horticulture, Thompson & Morgan

Andrew Tokely's veg plot in July 2012

Veg plot in July 2012

Andrew Tokely's roses in their 2nd flush of flowering

Roses in their 2nd flush of flowering

Andrew Tokely's exhibition begonias in bloom

Exhibition begonias in bloom

Andrew Tokely's thyme in bloom

Thyme in bloom

Andrew Tokely's tomatoes setting fruit

Tomatoes setting fruit

Andrew Tokely's runner beans in flower

Runner beans in flower