After a fairly disappointing spring, warm days finally started to arrive – but with some plants as much as a month behind, gardeners are chasing their tails to get all those jobs done. Ann Winwood explains how to make sure your garden sizzles this summer.
Baskets soon dry out especially when they’re sheltered from rain at the side of a house, so watering morning and night in very warm weather is a must.
If you have a damp, boggy area in your garden, iris, primulas and lobelias will all grow happily…
As we move into July and August, there’s still time to plant larger pots of geraniums, fuchsias, cosmos and dahlias to fill in any gaps in borders – do make sure you water well and feed weekly to make sure your bedding stays healthy. Dead-head regularly and you’ll have colour right through to the first autumn frosts, which hopefully will be late starting!
Hanging baskets need liquid feeding weekly – even if you choose to add slow-release fertilizers added to composts, you’ll see the extra benefits from liquid feed. Baskets soon dry out especially when they’re sheltered from rain at the side of a house, so watering morning and night in very warm weather is a must.
Tomatoes and cucumbers need water regularly during hot weather – preferably in the morning as this keeps the atmosphere humid and prevents the plants staying damp overnight. Problems such as powdery mildew or botrytis can arise if foliage remainds damp overnight – cucumbers can be very susceptible to mildew. Remove any badly infected leaves. Good growing conditions will help to prevent the spread – good light levels, low humidity particularly at night and the use of resistant varieties.
Keep sowing or planting salad crops such as lettuce, spinach, spring onions and radish in the veg patch to get a continuous harvest. Use very fine netting to cover cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots and other particularly susceptible vegetables against flies, pigeons and butterflies. Harvest peas and runner beans regularly whilst they are young and tender, freeze any spares for tasty, nutritious dishes during the lean winter months. Keep beans and peas moist and spray over the foliage to encourage pods to set.
There’s plenty of choice in the herbaceous section of the garden centre at the moment; as well as the ever-popular lupins, especially the newer West Country range, you could try salvias – Hot Lips being a good one – delphiniums and the butterfly-loving verbena bonanariensis as well as the perennially in-favour geraniums. Hostas are good for a shady spot with their coloured foliage – but you’ll need to be vigilant against slugs, especially if the ground is damp.
Keep roses in good condition by spraying every 10 days with a product such as Roseclear or Multirose if you wish – this will keep any aphids under control as well as dealing with powdery mildew and black spot. Woolly aphid is a pest of fruit trees that is becoming more and more common – it appears as fluffy patches on fruit tree stems and ornamental trees, but the insect is hidden under the fluff and sucks the sap from stems. If you choose to use Provado Ultimate Fruit and Vegetable Bug Killer, be sure to follow the directions as there’s a minimum harvest interval.
Now’s a good time to add new plants to your pond, whether they’re marginals for the edges, or deep water varieties. Keep marginals on a ledge at the edges of the pool and not too deep – iris, caltha, primulas and bulrushes are all good examples. For the deeper parts of the pool, water lilies are particularly good for providing protection for your fish. Most plants come ready-planted in aquatic pots so just need placing into the pool. Don’t forget marginals are not only for ponds – if you have a damp, boggy area in your garden, iris, primulas and lobelias will all grow happily.
There’s still time to treat moss on lawns with MO Bacter if the weather is not too dry. For moss and weed control, you may like to use Evergreen Complete. For smaller areas of moss try the new Bio Press from the same supplier, which can be watered onto the lawn.
For new potatoes in October, or at Christmas, plant seed potatoes in tubs in July and August. Growth will finish in October; leave the tubers in their pots until required for cooking. Remember they’ll need frost protection once the winter frosts appear in November and December.
To complete another gardening cycle – or start a new one depending on how you look at it! –spring flowering bulbs will be appearing in garden centres from the end of August. If you want hyacinths in flower for Christmas, they must be planted and put into a dark cool place in September. Most varieties require an eight to 10 week cool period followed by two or three weeks of warmer conditions to bring them into flower. Use a compost specifically for bulbs as it will contain charcoal to keep the soil sweet.