The Ornamental Garden
- Put up hanging baskets for colour and scent all summer.
- Winter flowering pansies and spring flowering wallflowers should be replaced with summer flowering bedding plants now. They may still have some blooms but they will quickly look scruffy.
- Lift and divide clumps of primroses and polyanthus. Heel them in a shady place for summer and they can be replanted in your borders again in autumn. Lift, dry and store tulip bulbs and replant in autumn.
- Continue planting out summer flowering bedding plants. Long flowering traditionals like Pelargonium, Petunia and Begonia are hard to beat!
- If you want to raise your own border perennials then several really popular varieties should be sown now. Sow Delphinium, hollyhocks, lupins and foxgloves but keeping them cool will help germination at this time of year.
- Pick sweet peas regularly so that they are not allowed to set seed. As soon as seeds form the flowers will get smaller and there will be less produced. If you have too many, give them away to your neighbours!
- Even if you added slow release fertiliser [such as Osmocote] to the compost in your tubs and baskets, it’s worth feeding regularly with liquid feed now. Miracle Gro and Phostrogen Plant Food are ideal; just follow the instructions on the pack for dilution rate and frequency.
- Sow wallflower, brompton stock and sweet william seeds in drills for bedding out in the autumn. This later than recommended sowing pays off here in the West Country with better quality plants.
- Plant out Canna, bananas and Dahlia. They all enjoy rich soil.
- Stake tall plants to give them support.
- Cut flower stems off Euphorbia as they become straw coloured. Take care to cover your skin against the sap of this plant as it can cause irritation.
- New shoots on any climbers, but Clematis in particular, should be tied to supports to prevent them breaking. Old early flowering Clematis can be cut back hard if necessary.
- Check your roses regularly for greenfly, black spot and mildew. Spray with Rose Clear Ultra*
- Remove dead flower heads from roses regularly.
- Magnolias can be pruned this month but only prune if you have to.
- Floppy border plants will need support to prevent them falling all over the place. There are lots of devices on the market to help with this or you may prefer to make your own with natural materials.
- Box hedging and topiary are best trimmed this month. Mix the clippings with lawn mowings to improve the compost you make. There is some evidence that if you don’t tidy up your box it may be more prone to box blight.
- Check grafted plants for suckers growing from the rootstock. If left, they rapidly outgrow the top of the plant. Check roses, fruit trees, Viburnums, lilacs, maples and most ornamental trees. Remove suckers as close to the roots as possible so that there is no stump left. More suckers can grow from stumps.
- Make certain that newly planted trees and shrubs are getting enough water and that it is actually reaching the roots! Trees need a minimum of two gallons a week.
- Snap off dead flowers from Rhododendrons and Azaleas. This will tidy them up and improve their shape. Trim over long shoots on Camellia. All these must be watered and fed well now as next year’s buds are already forming! Look out for ‘false bloom’ infection.
- Don’t be tempted to cut your lawn too low! Raising the blades slightly now will give a harder wearing surface that resists dry periods better. Mow a little and often.
- Control clover, trefoils and black medick in lawns. Weedol Lawn Weedkiller [formerly Verdone Extra*] is probably the most effective weed killers currently available.
- Apply a summer feed that is high in nitrogen. Westland After-Cut* works well.
- Tidy the edges with a lawn edging iron and keep them regularly cut.
- Regular hoeing, especially during dry weather, will keep weeds under control and stop all but the most determined perennial weeds from getting established. Persistent perennial weeds such as couch grass, thistles, bindweed and ground elder should be treated with Resolva 24H or Roundup now. However, ground elder will need several applications to really kill it. If the weeds are in among plants you wish to keep use Roundup Weed killer Gel*. Don’t be tempted to cut them back before application, because the more lush the leaves are the more likely you are to get a good result.
- Mulch fruit and vegetables generously.
- If greenhouses are getting too hot, paint ‘Coolglass’ on the outside to reflect the sun’s heat. This is easily wiped off in autumn. Wetting the floor regularly will also lower the temperature but don’t do it late in the day.
- Ventilate your greenhouse on a regular basis. If it is still too hot inside, keep the doors open too.
- It is usually at this time of year that whitefly and red spider mite populations in the greenhouse explode so, before that happens; order some natural predators via us to control these difficult pests the natural way.
- Regularly remove side shoots from tomato plants [unless you have a bush variety] and gradually increase watering and ventilation as they grow bigger and the days get warmer. Support plants well and gradually remove the lower leaves as they turn brown.
- If you haven’t already done it put Cymbidium orchids, Yucca, Ficus, citrus and even cacti outside for the summer. Most will noticeably benefit but avoid full sun to start with.
- If pests appear come and talk to us about using natural predators before you automatically reach for the sprayer.
The Inside Garden
- Some indoor plants that have outgrown their pots will benefit from being potted on into larger pots this month. Don’t be afraid to knock plants out of their pots to take a look at how the roots are doing.
- Many indoor plants will benefit from the summer outside! Make sure that they are put in a shady spot and watered well.
The Kitchen Garden
- Make sure that your potatoes don’t run short of moisture at this time. The new tubers should be forming now and will respond well to a thorough watering.
- Plant out those annual herbs [dill, pot marigold, basil, coriander, etc] that often resent being planted too early. Basil will prefer a very sheltered spot, I grow mine in the greenhouse between my tomatoes and a few leaves can be gathered to go with the tomatoes as I pick them.
- Plant outdoor tomatoes, ridge cucumbers, courgettes and marrows. These can all be easily grown in large pots or grow bags on the patio.
- Most herbs will benefit from being cut fairly hard now. The young shoot tips are generally the tastiest parts to use in cooking.
- There is still time to make a sowing of perpetual spinach leaf beet. This is a really useful vegetable that can be harvested right through the winter.
- A late sowing of parsley can still be made and, even if you don’t have a veg. patch, curled parsley will not look out of place in the flower border!
- Spray your apples with Sprayday Greenfly Killer* to stop Codling Moth grubs boring into your fruit. Pheromone traps, now widely available, give good non-pesticide control but need to be installed early enough to get control.
- First early potatoes should be ready for lifting now! If there are flowers showing and the leaves are starting to go yellow, that’s a sure sign that there are big enough tubers underneath to lift. Take them straight to the kitchen, boil them with a spring of fresh mint and serve with lashings of butter!
- Remove (by snapping them off) side shoots from cordon [non bushy] tomatoes. Stake and support them. Feed regularly with tomato feed, it improves the flavour!
- Prune plums and cherries. If wall trained, new shoots can be pinched back to encourage more branching. Tie and support new shoots. Heavy crops can be thinned next month if necessary.
- Don’t be too eager to thin out apples and pears where crops look heavy. Do this after the natural thinning process (‘June Drop’) which will begin soon.
- Make sure newly planted fruit canes and bushes are always well watered.
- Check gooseberries for the dreaded sawfly caterpillars. Pick them off immediately as they have a voracious appetite and will strip the leaves off!
- New shoots on fig trees will benefit from being pinched back to about 4-6”.
- Mulch strawberry fruits as they develop. Straw is good if you can get it. Remove unwanted new runners or ‘lay’ some of them into the rows to root to form a continuous row.
- Net soft fruit to protect from birds.
- Prune out the first ‘primary infection’ shoots that show signs of mildew on apple trees. This over-wintering infection can spread to the rest of the tree.
- Check blackcurrants for big bud mite damage (swollen buds). There is no control and the mites may have infected your plants with reversion virus so destroy the plants and replant.
- Harvest cucumber and courgette plants regularly, even if you can’t eat them! If you leave them on the plant it will slow down the production of more, share them with your neighbours
- Stop harvesting forced rhubarb crowns and give them time to recover.
- Autumn planted winter hardy onions and shallots may be ready to harvest at the end of the month. Let the skins ripen thoroughly in the sun as they store better then.
- Main crop potatoes should be earthed up so as to avoid the tubers going green in the light.
- Plant out pumpkins and squashes. These love well rotted manure or good garden compost.
- Sow more French beans and Mange-tout peas. Like salad crops, both benefit from successional sowing.
- Plant winter brassicas and leeks in gaps now available where early peas and beans have been harvested.
The Wildlife Garden
- Don’t forget to keep plenty of water out for the birds to drink and to bathe in regularly. A shallow container out of reach of cats is best. Continue feeding the birds but if you feed peanuts make sure that the mesh prevents whole nuts being removed.
- Check hedges for nests before trimming them. If there are nests there, delay until fledglings have flown the nest.
- Grow plants with simple flowers (not double) to encourage insects. Not only are they interesting but they also are food for many other forms of wildlife.
- Don’t rush to tidy up wildflowers after they have finished flowering. Let them spread their seed before you do.
- Oxygenating weed in ponds may be getting out of hand now so thin it out but always try to leave at least a third of the water surface covered to provide shade and shelter for wildlife.
- Plant water lilies and other water plants this month. Make sure that water margin and bog plants are getting enough water and add mulch to help.
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