Peter’s Gardening Tips for July
After record spring temperatures and a couple of heatwaves, the weather seems to be serving us a mixture of sunshine and showers now, and this is just what our gardens need to thrive during the summer.
This is the month for watering and feeding, especially plants in containers. Daily inspection is needed with high temperatures as containers dry out rapidly so twice daily watering is advised if necessary.
Fields are being harvested for hay whilst buzzards and red kites catch any fleeing rats and mice where the tractors are working.
Jobs to do this month
Raise the cutting deck and keep the grass longer with the hot weather. This keeps the grass looking better and less stressed. Keep your blade sharpened too. Blunt blades rip and damage the blades of grass and therefore more die back, giving a yellow appearance to the lawn.
Hoeing is fantastic at this time of year. A swoe is one of my favourite tools, hoe down the weeds in the morning, by the afternoon they are all shrivelled and dead in the sun, very satisfying. If you hoe when you don’t need to, you never need to hoe! Weedkillers work very well now, as long as you have six hours of dry forecast for glyphosate type weedkillers (Roundup) if you are happy to use chemical-based products. Make sure there is no spray drift onto plants you want to keep, avoid ponds, ditches and drains!
Crucial this month to promote more flowers for a longer period. Old flowers removed stop seed setting, which draws all the plants energies. Buddleia, Roses, Cosmos, Geraniums, Clematis, basically any dead flowers cut them off, unless you are saving seeds or for autumn interest. Herbaceous plants will all respond and give more flowers, which also encourages more nectar for bees, butterflies and hoverflies etc.
Vegetables and Fruit
Time to harvest some of your homegrown fruit and vegetables. Spuds – first earlies should be ready. Nothing beats freshly dug potatoes, washed, boiled, buttered with fresh mint chopped and sprinkled on top, I still get excited when I dig potatoes! Salad crops, courgettes, peas all delicious, mouth-watering and all so, so tasty. A lot of effort but boy it’s worth it, no packaging, air miles, gas or pesticide residues, just homegrown fabulousness, enjoy your labours!!
What a year for strawberries, currants, gooseberries, plucots, plums etc depending on whether you got any late frosts. Pollination from bees has been amazing, it’s going to be a great year for honey. The tree blossom has also been prolific, limes, sweet chestnut and now blackberries, wildflowers and fruit bushes to boot. Make provision for freezing, bottling, jamming, juicing, making ice cream and sorbets.
As with all trees and shrubs, the growth of hedges has been excessive. Most birds have finished nesting, but you will still find collard doves, pigeons, greenfinches and goldfinches still nesting, so check your hedge before cutting back. If your hedge is looking a bit sparse in places, give it a feed with a slow-release fertiliser or growmore. Hedges always get forgotten and if you think about it there are a lot of plants competing for very little soil.
A very busy month preparing for winter crops. Sow broccoli, Brussels sprouts, savoy cabbage or plant out. Wood ash and soot will help prevent club root. Carrots sown now will give you an autumn/winter crop. Leeks – main crop are best planted out on the well-manured ground, water in well.
It’s best to stop cutting now and weed and top dress with Vitax Q4, also give a good soak and mulch. Clear any broad beans away and compost, also this applies to pea plants and any bolted salads or rocket. Thank the plants for their harvest!
Keep vigilant for potato blight, spray with copper fungicide or Bordeaux mixture, keeping weed free if possible. If blights start cut the foliage away to ground level, remove, burn or dispose of, DO NOT compost!
Prune cordon apples and espaliers this month to reduce growth to two/three buds. Peaches and nectarines, tie in any new growth against wires or walls/fences. Ideal pruning time – remove any excess growth, cross over stems, thin or weedy stems. This will send more goodness and sap to the swelling fruit. Plums, Cherries, Apricots, Peaches – any fruit with a stone in, this is the time to prune and cut back anything not really useful.
Cut back to the bunch of grapes forming, this will allow more light in to ripen fruit.
Cut flowers from your garden, bring the scents of the garden indoors! Roses are a must!
Don’t forget to enjoy the scents in your garden of an evening – Jasmines and Honeysuckles smell better of an evening. You might see a passing bat, owl, moths, or a snuffling hedgehog. Enjoy some alfresco dining!
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