The traditional vegetable garden is a great source of healthy food for all of us- and a tremendous source of satisfaction for the gardener.
When in a wet garden avoid compacting the soil by walking on it. Use a plank between the rows or try 'no-dig' raised bed and narrow bed systems; these really come into their own in this soaking weather.
In colder areas a glasshouse or cloche s can protect plants in winter and let you start new seasons seedlings early, as well as grow winter crops under cover. Remember to open it on warm sunny days to prevent over-heating.
Good garden hygiene pays off with fewer pests. Slugs and snails enjoy wet, damp weather and hide under any rubbish.
Tasks in the Vegetable Garden
Pick winter crops while still at their best - Brussels sprouts, silver beet, cauliflowers, cabbage, parsnips, winter carrots, and leeks.
Fold cauliflower leaves over and tie to protect from frost and keep florets tight.
Dig over empty sections of the vegetable garden, avoiding working on wet soil, to prepare for next seasons crops. Add well-rotted compost and dig in well.
To get spring sowings off to an early start in late July, use a row of cloches or a stretch of clear polythene to warm and dry out the soil.
Asparagus is a vegetable that repays planting over many years. To prepare beds cultivate deeply and add generous amounts of compost. Existing asparagus beds should be cultivated carefully to avoid damaging the crowns that lie just below the surface, add a new layer of mulch.
Prune grapes - cut away last year's fruited canes and tie down new canes. Side shoots will grow from these and fruit next year.
Prune kiwifruit are pruned to just above the top wire on a frame, and the vines trained horizontally, one to each wire or support. Three-year-old fruiting vines are cut back to a dormant bud near the main cane to renew fruiting laterals.
Prune black currants by removing about 25% of the oldest shoots at the base, to increase air circulation, reduce congestion in the heart of the bush and encourage new growth.
Fruit trees - remove secondary growth since summer pruning of trained fruit trees
Pot grown strawberries over wintered in the glasshouse will crop several weeks earlier than out-door plants.
Citrus are susceptible to water logging so avoid over-watering and always ensure that your trees have good drainage and are not sitting in a puddle of water.
Line the inside of the glasshouse with bubble wrap. Ditto for cold frames, these can also be covered overnight with a piece of old carpet.
Check over wintering plants for frost damage; in cooler areas temperatures may fall well below zero in unheated glasshouses. Cover with frost cloth or use heat mats when temperatures take a dive.
Water winter lettuce and strawberries under glass as these can easily become dry and dehydrated.
Sow new seasons annuals that need a long growth period before flowering, e.g. sweet peas. Prick them out and move into a bright area to prevent them becoming leggy and drawn out.
Watch for botrytis if you have things sealed up really well, this fungus spreads rapidly in the warm and humid conditions. Botrytis looks like a fuzzy, grey growth on leaves and stems. Plants can discolour and rapidly weaken. Prevention is always better than cure, so donít leave dead or dying plants in the glasshouse, toss them in the bin. Spacing plants well and providing good air circulation is important, so open vents during the day in warm weather.
Thoroughly clean glasshouse, shelves and equipment, including surfaces under shelves and benches. This will help prevent pests and diseases infecting new seasons seedlings and crops
Remember that clean glass increases light transmission needed for growth, so sort out those cobwebs and mucky surfaces.
Space for vegetables become harder to find in our gardens. Yet salads, tomatoes, and other vegetables are so much better straight from the garden.
Small space options are more important than ever in the garden. Concetrate on growing only those vegetables that benefit the most from being picked fresh and take up a small space. Use innovative containers, grow beans and tomatoes vertically, pot up your herbs, there are many ways to find the space for your favourite veges!
Rotational crop systems involve sowing different crops in different places each year to reduce soil-borne diseases, such as club root and potato blight damaging your crop.
Lettuce From early spring through until the frosts, lettuce will provide salad vegetables. You can grow lettuce under a cloche or in a greenhouse for an even longer season.
Growing from Seed Start your own seedlings, outdoors or under cover, away from all this rain! You can increase the variety and range of vegetables you grow. There are a few basic rules and lots of fun to be had.
More Vegetable Gardening
Compost is one of the keys to a healthy garden. It does wonders for your vegetables, smells great and is really quite easy to make if you follow a few basic rules.