July – school’s out!
It’s July and the start of the holiday season. Hopefully we will have some summer weather and lots of opportunities to enjoy being out in the garden. Here are a few things to do in between barbecues!
If you are going away have you sored out how to keep your pots and baskets watered in your absence? If you aren’t lucky enough to have someone to pop in and water for you there are various things you can do to keep your plants alive whilst you are on the beach. Putting them in the shade will help and standing them in trays will retain some water for them to use. If you are going to be away for several weeks, or go away frequently, it may be worth investing in an automatic watering system . You can pick up a Hozelock basic kit, including timer from places like Homebase or Amazon relatively inexpensively. Although a little labour intensive to set up once it’s done it will be there for years. You just need to take the timer indoors over the winter. The other benefit is the water companies like them as they use the least amount of water. If you put drippers on the ends use of the system is often still permitted even when there is a hosepipe ban. Some of the newer systems can even be rigged up to your water butts.
Whilst on the subject of water, newly-planted shrubs and trees may need watering if it is very dry. If the ground around the stem has been compacted it may need loosening first with a fork so the water can soak into the ground and not just run off the top. A good soaking every few days is better than a small amount every day as this encourages the plant to put down deep roots.
Established lawns may go brown during a period of hot dry weather but don’t worry. They will soon green up following some rain. However, do not apply weed/feed type products as they could kill the grass. Wait until we have a period of wetter weather and the grass is growing again. Newly sown or turfed lawns may need some watering but try and do this in the evening so the water soaks into the grass and doesn’t just evaporate.
Ponds may need topping up if the levels have dropped a lot. If you are able to use water from a water butt this is best. In very dry weather it may be best to turn off fountains or waterfalls during the hottest part of the day to minimise water loss through evaporation.
Deadheading is an on-going task through the summer but will help to keep your garden filled with flowers all season long. I’ve mastered the art of pinching off the dead flowers on petunias and pelargoniums with one hand whilst holding a glass of wine in the other! J
It is time to give wisteria their first prune. Trim all the new whippy growth, that is not wanted to continue the framework, back to about 5 or 6 buds from the main steam. This helps encourage the plant to produce flower buds for next year. It also helps to stop it becoming too much of a thug!
Climbing beans , whether runner or french, should be stopped when they reach the top of their support. This is simply pinching out the top of the plant. It will then produce more side shoots and so more beans.
Keep picking beans, tomatoes and courgettes as they ripen . This will keep them producing more for longer.