This week I had the pleasure to meet Mark Ridsdill Smith who runs “Vertical Veg” a website that is about the art of growing vegetables in small spaces.

Nick Chenhall and Mark Ridsdell Smith

He came to film the various ways I grow tomatoes and we had a an enjoyable but challenging time filming in high winds!

Windy

To visit his website and find out more about “Vertical Veg”, here’s a link: http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/

Instead of writing a long newsletter, I’ve made a short video about pruning leggy plants and the benefit of using magnesium (epsom salts) as a foliar spray.

Increasing the amount of light absorbed by plants is important – especially if light levels are poor.
Two or three seasons ago, we had such low light levels throughout the spring and early summer that flowering was delayed and even garden centres were struggling with all sorts of low light issues.

One of the best ways to increase light is to use reflective white surfaces.
I like to cover almost every surface in white plastic including my polytunnel floor!

Over Heating
I have never understood why they make black pots or perhaps I should say … pots black (perhaps to hide the dirt). In direct sunlight roots become very hot and plants become stressed at high temperatures. Actually, white pots are now available from some manufacturers who realise an opportunity!

A few sheets of reflective plastic here and there can make a real improvement but let’s hope we also get a good light and sunny summer!

Regards,
Nick

As we approach the time (end of May) when we can leave plants out overnight and the danger of frost will have past, it’s still good to cover tomato plants with garden fleece to help prevent wide temperature changes between day and night.

Wide temperature swings tend to stress plants and make them less vigorous.

 

 

12 Responses

  1. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    Jess

    I tried using two growing tips on a variety of strains last year, mostly with success but some less good. As it was a hot, sunny summer down here, the approach probably worked better than if the summer were a bit of a washout.

    The following worked well with two leaders: Shirley, Ailsa Craig, Glacier.
    The following I wouldn’t recommend: Black Russian, Riesentraube.

    Alicante, Super Marmande and Black Cherry naturally grow multiple leaders and all did well with that approach last year.

    This year, I can confirm that my February-grown Glacier plant is doing well with 3 leaders again (one emerges naturally very low down and then the main leader splits in two naturally as well), the others aren’t yet far enough advanced to comment.

    • Jess Allaway
      | Reply

      Thanks for that Rhys, I only intend to try it on one of my Sungold cherries and, as Nick also advised, not going to try on any of the bigger size toms. Our season up here in the west highlands is pretty short so usually happy enough to get one growing stem to ripen. Will be interesting to try it out on just the one this year. Thanks again!

  2. Nigel Davies
    | Reply

    What rate do you apply the ” Epsom Salts ” ie how many tea spoons per gallon ?
    Thanks .

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Nigel, I generally use one teaspoon per litre as a foliar spray – apply both above and below the leaves.
      It’s possible to use two teaspoons per litre if a plant is suffering from a magnesium deficiency.
      Nick

      • stephen clark
        | Reply

        i will be trying mixing a little salts together with lime to battle BER, in the holes for final potting

        • Nick
          | Reply

          Hi Steve,
          As you know, liming increases the pH level of soil, and plants can’t absorb calcium when the soil pH is too low/acidic … phosphorus too becomes unavailable in soil that is very acidic.
          I would proceed with caution if adding lime to pots and only add a small amount. Most BER is caused by interruption to the water supply that carries calcium to plant parts rather than a calcium shortage in the soil.
          Regards,
          Nick

          • stephen clark
            |

            this year am not using pots at all am focusing 100%all plants on the hozelock growbag watering system, and after two weeks of planting the plants are thriving, i barely put a teaspoon of lime in plant hole mixed with the soil, my plants love this hozelock system

      • stephen clark
        | Reply

        how often do you apply

  3. Jess Allaway
    | Reply

    Hi Nick,
    I was interested to see your comments about white pots as in the past I have been a bit worried at how hot the outsides of my 10 litre pots (black of course!) felt in the greenhouse on an even moderately warm day. I felt it couldn’t be doing the roots much good to be so hot. I think I shall make some “jackets” for the pots out of strips of white plastic which can just be held on with a clip at the back and it will be interesting to find out if they feel cooler to touch on those hot sunny days which are just around the corner! Enjoyed the video clip. Was intending to try a double stem on one of my Sungolds this year by letting a side shoot develop low down (not sure how far down). Must check previous newsletters as I think in one of them you explained how to do that.
    Best regards
    Jess.

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Jess,
      It’s good to allow a side shoot to develop below the first truss, from any of the first three leaf branches.
      Last season I had double stems on most of my cherry varieties and it worked very well – we had a good summer and that helped too.
      Kind regards,
      Nick

  4. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    Glad to see Mark got in touch with you, Nick.

    Hope you tapped him up for his knowledge of wormeries!!

    • Nick
      | Reply

      It was good to meet him and I did get advice on wormeries – it’s a fascinating subject!

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