Peter’s Gardening tips for late summer
This years summer gardening can be described as challenging!
June was so wet with cold nights and dull, July virtually no rain in the the South, August more settled in the South but dreadful in the North and Scotland.
I have never know so much growth on trees, shrubs, hedges and herbaceous plants. You need a machete to get into the garden and get back into the house or find your front door!
Have you ever seen so many slugs and snails, they seem to be in plague proportions? Here is a picture of slime trails disappearing up into a 50ft oak tree!
Summer Jobs to do
Hedge cutting – check for bird nests before cutting, greenfinches, goldfinches, blackbirds and thrushes still producing.
Grass cutting – Keep mower blades sharp for a crisp cut, raise the mower deck in this hot weather, keep grass longer better drought resistance. Clear out old grass from under the mower deck, your mower will be more efficient, cut better and less clogging up.
Pruning – General rule of thumb is to prune after flowering, Weigelia, choisya, deutzia, kolwitzia and Lavender to name a few. A lot of Spring flowering shrubs have grown immensely, give these a trim as cutting back hard will remove next years flower buds on forsythias.
Old deciduous shrubs with knuckles of thick stems can be sawn out with a wood pruning saw to ground level, loads of new stems will come from the base, don’t be frightened?
Climbing plants – or Triffids!
Climbing Roses – Rambles cut out old flowered stems completely. DO NOT cut if new growth coming from the base, this is next years flower stems and needs tying in. Coverage of this on Gardeners World was not satisfactory and misleading. Dead head all old flowers and seed heads to encourage more flowering, tie in new stems.
Bush Roses – Remove all old flowers regularly, feed all roses with a Rose fertiliser or liquid feed as per packet instructions. Roses are hungry feeders, so keep fed for more flowers and healthy plants.
Vegetables – Lift garlic and onions if you haven’t already. Dry off really thoroughly – bake in the sun! Keep sowing salad crops, autumns cress, lettuce, mustard, radish, salad leaves etc. Protect cabbages, broccoli and sprouts from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies.
Look for seed potatoes to plant now to give you a crop for Christmas and the New Year, planted best in containers in the greenhouse.
Sow spring cabbage, cabbage greens, carrots, beetroot, chicory, endive, kohlrabi, pak choi, spinach, spring onion (winter hardy) and turnips, check out Kings Seeds and Marshalls for their seeds and plug plants.
Fruit – Summer pruning of fruit trees very important. Plums, peaches, nectarines and cherries – anything with a stone in the fruit. This allows more light to ripen the fruit, produces fruiting spurs and buds for next year, and also decongests the tree and makes picking fruit easier. Remove criss-crossing branches and rubbing branches, and keep fed and watered regularly. Keep on top of removing damaged fruit, rotting plums etc.
Also, reduce long growth on apples and pears back to 2 – 4 leaves, if in doubt refer to RHS Summer pruning of apples and pears either online or the RHS Pruning books.
Cut down summer fruited raspberry canes, tidy up strawberry plants, remove runner unless you are starting off new plants.
Wildlife – Birds
This has been a poor breeding season for many as a result of the wet June, those who bred later have faired better.
Keep bird feeders clean to prevent the spread of disease, throw away old food and wash and scrub bird baths, have several bird baths together with different depths for different varieties of birds, terracotta saucers work very well. Keep topped up all the time and all sorts of wildlife will visit for a drink.
Enjoy your garden and the holidays,
Please leave your gardening questions for me to answer and I will do my best to come back to you.
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