Gardening with Martin Blunn, Solutionize Global.

With all the recent hot weather most of the fruit and vegetables will have needed extra water to help them produce their crops. Regular watering is essential for those with high water content such as courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes. Also pick the time of day when you water either at the very start of the day or near the end of the day which ever best suits your commitments otherwise a lot of the water will evaporate before it can be absorbed. A great tip I was given for tomatoes a couple of years ago was use an old plastic washing basin or something similar under the tomato plant pot ensuring a lot more water will be retained.

We are in the height of season for quite a lot of crops, most soft fruit has finished although brambles and late raspberry varieties like Joanne J will be ready to pick. In my own allotment outside it is courgettes, pick these small when they are about 10 cm (4 in) long. Firstly this promotes continuous production through the season and secondly, I find that the smaller courgette has a lot more flavour. Look closely as the green variety they have a habit of hiding themselves quite well and before you know it you’ve got a marrow! Also, outside I have French beans again early picking prolongs the season, doing this means you that can harvest for about 5-7 weeks. Don’t leave the beans so they start to show bulges as this is impair the crop. Harvest a couple of times a week. I also have curly kale and sprouting broccoli coming at this time as well regular pick the kale as again this will promote further growth and with the broccoli catch the heads before they start to produce their distinctive yellow flowers.

Inside the greenhouse or polytunnel your tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and aubergines should be coming along nicely and producing crops to pick. If you have vine tomatoes, make sure you’ve been removing the side shoots when they are about 2.5 cm (1 in) long and remove the lower leaves on all varieties. Also cut the growing tip once the tomato plant has reached its desired height otherwise all its energy will be put in growth rather than producing fruit. With cucumbers is a similar story for trailing varieties, pinched out the growing point once it reaches the roof and pinch out the side shoots at 2 leaves beyond the female flower.

The produce will come thick and fast at this time of year make sure you pick regularly and when young as these plants will continue to provide crops and you’ll get the tastiest produce. Try if possible, to use on the day of picking and plan some of your recipes around what is being produced.