AGRICULTURAL NEWS - Many summer vegetables are coming to an end, but that is not the end of the summer veggie garden.
With four to five months of growing ahead, there are plenty of summer vegetables that can still be sown or planted. In my garden, the tomatoes are ripening fast and in a week or two can be replaced.
Being away in December meant that the bush beans were neglected and the baby marrows completely overgrew their space. All these have been pulled out to make way for a second wave of summer veggies.
Removing diseased or insect-infested plants makes space for new veggies and also helps with pest and disease control. The pests are in their element and pest control with an organic insect spray will be critical during the next few months.
Where there is space for a new crop, renew the soil with compost and add nitrogen-rich fertiliser for leafy crops.
Having planted a mix of “traditional” vegetables and compact patio vegetables, I’ve found that the patio vegetables are more productive and take up less space. The other bonus is that Simply Delicious patio vegetables are already established plants, which brings the harvest period forward, especially for long-to-mature fruiting crops.
Those that can be planted out this month and will yield within three months (earlier if fruit is already forming) are brinjals Hansel (black) and Gretel (white), chilli-pepper La Bomba, Sweet Snack (red or yellow) and Patio Snacker cucumber and zucchini Easy Pick, as well as a range of patio tomatoes
For a variety of tomatoes, look out for Megabite, Little Napoli and Candyland Red.
Megabite is a sturdy, compact bush tomato that produces large beefsteak tomatoes. The fruit develops close to the stem and doesn’t need to be staked or tied. The fruit is firm and good for slicing into salads and sandwiches.
Little Napoli is a Roma tomato which is good for cooking. The disease-resistant plant grows up to 45cm high and 90cm wide and fruit is ready for harvest after two months. Stake the fruit to keep it off the ground.
Candyland Red is a quick-to-ripen sweet currant-type tomato for snacking, salads and roasting. It is a vining plant that grows high and needs to be staked.
Salad crops like lettuce, sweet basil, rocket and coriander are the quickest to grow from seed and most will be ready for harvest within 40 days.
Loose-leaf lettuce varieties tend to be more heat tolerant. Grow them in a cooler section of the veggie garden that receives only morning sun or dappled sun throughout the day.
RAW seed has two new lettuce varieties. Gourmet Salad Blend is a mix of five loose-leaf varieties, from shades of green to red, with textures from oak leaf to tightly ruffled.
Red Sails has high heat tolerance and ruffled red leaves, with a green base. The leaves have a buttery flavour and can be harvested as baby leaves or left to grow.
There is a new basil, too. RAW’s Lime Basil has a mild citrus flavour that makes it an interesting addition to salads or in any other dish that calls for sweet basil.
Finally, don’t forget the summer stalwarts of Swiss chard and bush and runner beans. Bush beans are the quicker crop and for something different try RAW’s Mardi Gras blend of yellow and purple beans that turn light green when cooked. They are ready for harvest within 75 days of sowing.
Swiss Chard Bright Lights is an almost year-round crop but in this midsummer’s heat it does best in a cooler spot that only receives morning or dappled sun.