Caring for your plants in the hot weather
It is especially vital you properly care for your plants in the hot weather that we have been having recently. Down here in Cornwall, it has been extremely dry recently.
It is highly recommended that you plant what you receive via the courier or in the post as soon as possible to give them the best possible chance of thriving. If this is not an option, then the next best plan is to 'heel' them in - dig a small trench in any area of soil or compost, place the whole bundle in, water the soil really well and make sure they are covered by the soil. In this state, they could last for up to 2 weeks.
Plant as soon as possible to give them the best possible chance of flourishing.
From our experience, it is highly inadvisable to place your plants in a bucket of water to rejuvenate them at any stage. Half an hour before planting would be ok, but for any longer length of time, it can be detrimental to your plant's health. This technique removes the soil and will most likely kill off all the fine and essential small white root hairs that help your plant to flourish. See the photo below showing these fine hairs. Instead, when you are planting them nice and deep, put a quantity of water in the hole along with the plant. Then keep them well watered until the plant is established.
When the plants are still in our field before being sent to you, they are not watered at all, with dew being their main source of moisture, so they are already acclimatised to the dry weather. Therefore, if you feel your plants look like they are dying or aren't looking great (the leaves can have a bluer tinge rather than a nice green colour), don't worry too much, these old variety plant types are more resilient than you think! Still plant them along with watering as suggested and within 10 days they should be growing well.
The small white root hairs are essential for your plant's growth. Note how the leading tap root is quite long, which shows how the plant has acclimatised in the field to the dry conditions, searching for water by delving deep into the soil.
After a few weeks the plants do generally need a top dressing of fertiliser and at regular intervals throughout their growth. The specific feed will depend on your soil type, pH value, mineral and chemical state and how intensive you are growing your brassica's. To produce those amazing sprouts, a fantastic cauliflower head or endless supply of broccoli to be picked for many weeks during winter, they will need feeding.
Growmore fertiliser for £3.95. There are over 40 different types listed on our website for every different need and plant type.
In addition, it can be really useful to know what your soil may be missing, even at this time of year. Without good soil health your plants are less likely to grow. A simple soil testing kit can easily help you determine whether a key nutrient is missing from your garden. Ideally this test is done before planting in early spring, giving you chance to add sea sand or lime to increase the pH value or trace elements, for example using volcanic rock dust to optimise growth.
This simple pH soil test kit is only £2.45.
Volcanic rock dust for £3.99.
Plant straight away or heel them in instead of placing them in a bucket of water. A purple sprouting broccoli straight from being pulled in the field.