Save some cardboard egg boxes or other bits of card and paper and tear or shred into small pieces to add to your compost bin in summer. At this time of year we end up with a lot of soft green waste but need some brown waste to create the right balance.
1. Overwinter chillies by cutting them back a little and keeping them in a warm place and adding a little water. In this way you will get an early crop the following year (Seems to work better with some varieties than others).
2. Grow your variety of sweetcorn away from other varieties as cross-pollination will reduce the sweetness of the cobs. If you’re on an allotment it might be a good idea to check with others first to see what variety they are growing.
3. If you have stony soil, grow a round carrot variety such as ‘Parmex’ or ‘Rondo’
4. Eat sweetcorn as soon as possible after it has been picked as its sweetness will be reduced the longer you delay.
5. Rather than gather leaves off your lawn, just run the lawnmower over them. The leaves will rot down much quicker if you intend to use them as leafmould.
6. Pinch out the tops of chilli plants when they are 15-20cm (6-8in) tall as this will encourage bushier growth and more chillies!
7. Preserve garlic at room temperature – not in the fridge as this will cause it to go mouldy.
8. Reuse your growing tote to plant spring onions, rocket, mizuna or parsley under cover, after your tomatoes have finished.
9. Break up cardboard boxes until you’re prepared to sow or plant and use the cardboard. Use a brick if necessary or place soil around the edges to hold it down.
Maintain a patch of comfrey and nettles on a spare patch of the garden or veg plot. Both make great liquid feed and can be harvested several times each season. Nettles also make a good home for wildlife including peacock butterflies.
10. Don’t throw away bubble wrap – it is perfect for protecting plants from frost.
11. If growing shallow-rooted crops in a large container put some broken bits of polystyrene in the base so you don’t need as much compost to fill the pot.
12. Give your tomato and pepper plants a dose of Epsom salts as a pick-me-up. This can be applied as a foliar spray, two tablespoons per gallon of water fortnightly about three times over the summer months.
13. When planting up hanging baskets place a circle of polythene or a plant pot tray in the base to help catch and hold on to water.
14. Widger – cheap sweetcorn forks make great widgers (mini forks) for lifting seedlings out of seed trays when pricking out.
15. Instant measuring sticks – a standard trowel offers a good guide as to how far apart to plant young vegetables when setting them out in the spring. Similarly, summer prune your apple and pear trees once the new growth it as long as your secateurs – most are around 20cm (8in)