Published: 24/08/2012 08:00 - Updated: 28/08/2012 12:31

Edible Flowers and Problem Tomatoes

Welcome to Garden King's Plant Doctor Blog, where our experts discuss and answer all your gardening questions. This week I'm talking about problem tomatoes, edible flowers and tying up loose ends around the garden.

Well another week has flown by here at Garden King, I hope you all managed to grab a bargain at our discount weekend? The weather has been a bit mixed again but there's plenty to be done in and around your garden this week. 

Problem tomatoes

It's important to keep checking your tomatoes, calcium deficiency can cause blossom end rot which leads to the bottom of the fruit developing a circular patch of brown-black rot. If you've been feeding your plants regularly and watering them so they never become dry, your fruit should be fine. 

If you've got tomatoes growing outside in the garden or on the veg plot, they've been pounded by rain and young fruit is probably showing signs of dark green specks. Don't worry, this should clear up as the fruit matures but ensure you keep them well-fed to keep them healthy.

Now I know it's near impossible to predict the weather at the moment, but if you are aware of a prolonged spell of heavy rain - you could try covering your plants with a temporary shelter to protect your precious fruit. On top of the rain we've had the up and down temperatures which can lead to your fruit splitting.

Edible flowers

Add a bit of colour to your salads with edible flowers! You may be a little sceptical about eating them, but the colourful blooms can add not only colour but an unusual burst of flavour too. Nasturtiums are doing well and providing a great supply of flowers. Sprinkle them over a plate of pasta for a tangy, peppery taste and a healthier alternative to salt.

Plants like Nasturtium can become an unwelcome invasion as they spread easily, so pinching off the flowers to eat them will help stop the invasion and stop them setting seed. It's very important to take care before you eat any flowers, if you've been spraying them with fungicides or insecticides then it's best not to eat them. You can eat a wide selection of flowers (but don't eat anything without checking it's edible first), try pot marigolds, hemerocallis and pansies. Marigolds have a spicy kick that will add seasoning to your soups. Hemerocallis are crisp and refreshing flowers great to eat raw and pansies are a colourful additions to lettuce and have a similar taste. Pansy flowers make salads look amazing and are a source of vitamin C!

Make sure you wash flowers before adding them to a salad. Pick off the petals but avoid eating anything else of the bloom. Only pick the flowers just before you want to use them, that way they'll keep their colour and freshness.

Bits n' Bobs to do in and around the garden

Pull out foxgloves

If your foxgloves have finished their show for the year, it's best to pull them out now. We recommend you wait until their seeds have ripened, you can then shake them around your borders to spread the seed and with a bit of luck see a new batch of foxgloves to take over.

Tidy your alpines

It's been a great season for alpines; the cool weather earlier in the year has lead to a great flower. Varieties like aubrieta, campanulas and saxifrage will love a trim and tidy once the first show of flowers has faded. Shear them off with scissors to take off the remains of flowers heads, this will hopefully encourage a few more blooms.

Keep checking for pests

I know I've talked about pests quite a bit recently, but its really important to keep checking. I had a look in my greenhouse yesterday and I found a few greenfly which had flown under my radar. I quickly squashed them off and the greenhouse is now pest free again. It only takes a few seconds of your time, but you'll reap the benefits.

Looking ahead to next week

It's coming to the time when you need to think about applying an autumn lawn feed, so next week I'll be talking about Westland Autumn Lawn Feed and Moss Killer. This great product which we stock this time every year is perfect for a stronger, greener and healthier winter lawn. It's available now at Garden King for only £10 - more next week!

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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