09:17 Monday 08 October 2012

Tomato crops, over wintering onions and garden jobs

Written byBen Smith

Welcome to Garden King's Plant Doctor Blog, where our experts discuss and answer all your gardening questions. This week I'm talking about harvesting the last of your tomato crop, sowing overwintering onions and jobs for the garden.

Hello - are we all still here? I'm sorry I've been quiet the last few weeks. We've been really really busy putting Christmas together at Garden King (and we're still not finished!) It really will be a great experience though and well worth popping down to see our Christmas Market when it's all open. I also took a break to Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol and despite gorgeous sunshine, I've managed to come back paler than when I left! Anyway, here's this week's blog, as always I'd LOVE to hear from you - so please send me your questions and comments (you'll find all the details at the bottom of this blog).

Harvest the last of your tomato crop

We're all very attached to our tomato plants, we've been tending to them since February - but it's time to say goodbye for another year. If you've got any remaining tomato plants outside, it's definitely time to harvest any remaining fruit as they are unlikely to ripen further - the weather is definitely changing. Time is running out for plants in the greenhouse too, it won't be long before you need to harvest your final crop and cut your losses.

Don't waste the green fruits; although they have a reputation for being poisonous - they aren't dangerous in small doses. Green tomatoes make an interesting addition to your soups, stews and chutneys.

It is possible to ripen your green fruits and turn them red. It sounds a bit weird but pop a banana in a drawer within a warm room, then add your green harvest to this drawer and leave them for a while. The banana release a gas called ethylene which helps the fruit ripen. With a bit of luck, in a few days you'll have lush red fruits.

Sow overwintering onions NOW!

Now we've finished the remaining summer vegetable crops and cleared them, we've got room to plant a few sets of over-wintering onions. Planting them now will give you a crop to harvest in early summer (much earlier than spring-planted onions, which won't be ready until much later in the season). 

Your onions will grow best in sheltered areas with good sun exposure. Be careful not to manure the ground just before planting your onions as over-rich soil may lead to your sets rotting. Dig over and rake the ground to break up the soil. Your thumb is the best tool for creating shallow holes, space your sets about 10cm apart in rows 30cm apart. Plant the sets with the tip just protruding above the soil surface.

At Garden King we've got various varieties of over-wintering onions including "Electric", "Troy" and "Senshyu Yellow".

Jobs for the garden

Before I finish this week, you need to be dead-heading on a daily basis now. Removing the deadheads will encourage new flowering well into Autumn and finish just before the first frosts.

Tidy up your beds and remove any summer bedding that is past it's best, replace it with shiny new winter bedding available now.

Make sure your lawn is well drained, drive a fork into it in several spots and rake away any dead leaves or moss to allow healthy growth.

If YOU have any suggestions, questions or comments - feel free to drop us a line (we'd love to hear from you!). You can email plantdoctor@gardenking.co.uk, call us on 01283 550 516, add us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Happy gardening x

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