In the Garden this week: January 14, 2011

The first corn cobs of the season

The first corn cobs of the season

• A bit of a treat here this week with the very first servings of fresh corn on the cob for the season. Corn being Mark’s number one favourite vegetable, he has been planting successive crops and we will continue eating it from here to June. You can still sow corn from seed with the expectation of getting it through in time this season.

• Keep sowing leafy greens, salad veg, carrots, beetroot, and dwarf beans. The dieticians’ advice is that at least half your dinner plate should be comprised of vegetables (excluding starchy carbs) and it is much easier to achieve this state of affairs if you can harvest your own veg and have plenty of leafy greens to bulk out salads.

• Preparation will be starting for winter veg planting which mostly takes place in February though any spare areas in our veg patch are getting filled with annuals to feed the butterflies. The monarchs are around in abundance here. Having sufficient swan plants to feed the burgeoning caterpillar population is only half the equation. Providing nectar rich flowers for the butterflies encourages them to stay around. Marigolds, cosmos, poppies, phaecelia, zinnias and the like will all provide food.

• Keep mounding soil up over potato plants to keep the tubers deep, cool and away from light.

• Keep tomato plants to one or two stems only and remove laterals (side shoots), along with excessive foliage around the forming fruit. You want maximum warmth, sun and air movement around the crop.

• It is time to get a copper and summer oil spray onto citrus trees. This can help prevent the premature drop of fruit later in the season and cleans up various other nasties.

• Make sure you keep up the daily watering on container plants. If you have let your pots dry out too much, a few drops of detergent on the top can help the water penetrate rather than running straight off (called a surfactant).

• Having advised readers to get onto digging and dividing or planting autumn bulbs last week, I would counsel you not to delay. The nerines are already showing fresh white roots and others will not be far behind. In fact, it is already the time to be thinking of seeing to winter and early spring bulbs – snowdrops, jonquils and even other narcissi, lachenalias and the host of other options.