With the summer heatwave resumed, following cool wet conditions, it is understandable garden plants are confused and distressed. While tomatoes are flourishing, summer salads are struggling, particularly those grown in containers, going to seed or becoming tough and unpalatable. Thank goodness for the chards which suffer the conditions far better.
Kitchen gardeners love the daily supply of fresh food. Chard works very well with this. The larger leaves are picked from the outside of the plant and can be steamed, blanched or gently heated in a frying pan. The smaller leaves are good uncooked. Larger quantities of leaves can be blanched and frozen in blocks. Smaller quantities make an ideal gardener’s lunch.
While heatwave conditions may seem unlikely for starting new seeds, it is worth getting on with starters indoors. Starting in a basement is ideal. Starting chard and lettuce now will hopefully provide good starts for when the heatwave passes over. Small plants should be taken indoors on particularly hot days and taken out in mornings or evenings. Consistent gentle watering is important.
The tomato plants are now filling up with green tomatoes. However, the disturbed conditions of recent weeks mean the first signs of sickness are becoming evident. Tomatoes are sensitive to weather swings, too much water in heavy rain, drying out in heatwaves. For the time being leaf damage is monitored, if it noticeably continues leaves will be removed.
Difficult summers appear to becoming the norm with gardeners across Europe reporting problems. The salad seasons appear to be becoming strictly non-summer, better in early spring and fall. However it is pleasing to discover the various kinds of chard that manage the heat better and produce well even in these disturbed conditions. Sow chard year round.