With David Williams
It’s July and the sun should be shining, fingers crossed!
Hopefully you are making the most of the long, warm, sunny evenings.
Remember these summer evenings are not just about getting more work done in the garden, but they also offer the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours.
One job that will need daily attention at the moment is watering. All those pots and hanging baskets that you have around the garden will need constant supplies. Even if it has rained there will probably not be enough water to sustain them, so make sure to keep watering. As you water your pots you will also wash out all the nutrients in the compost so it is a good idea to give your pots and baskets a weekly feed. Use a liquid feed suitable for summer flowering plants: mix up in your watering can at the manufacturer’s rate and water the containers well.
Bearded iris can be divided this month; cut them back to about 12cm (4”), lift with a fork, keep the young rhizomes on the outside and compost the old, inner rhizomes. Also dig in some compost and a bit of grit if they are on heavy soil, replant with the top of the rhizomes sticking out on top of the soil so they can bake in the sun. This will help increase flowering later.
Now is also a good time to take cuttings of tender perennials. Select young non-flowering shoots 6-9cm (2-3”) long, cut them back to a leaf joint and remove all the leaves that will be under the compost as they will rot. Depending on the size of the leaf you may need to cut the leaves in half to prevent water loss. Place in a good free draining compost, then cover with a plastic bag as this will provide a good, humid environment for the cuttings to take root. Place in a warm place, but out of direct sunlight.
The vegetable garden should be bulging with produce at the moment. It is important to keep on picking, especially beans. The more you pick, the more beans you will get. If you let them go to seed they will stop producing beans.
Courgettes are another crop that keeps on the more you harvest. They will also quickly turn into marrows if you don’t harvest regularly.
Keep on sowing your salad crops so you get a constant supply – sow in small batches fortnightly. You can sow them directly into the ground but I like to sow them in a few pots as well, which I leave on the window sill so I never have to go far to get fresh salad.
It is also a good idea to do the same with your favourite herbs, I have several pots at different stages of growth so as the one pot goes over I have another one to replace it.
I love July in the fruit garden.
All that lovely, juicy fruit starts to swell and ripen. Soon the kids will be making daily visits to the garden to sneakily eat it when you are not looking! However the local bird population are also keeping an eye on your fruit. So have your nets at the ready as you can lose your whole crop in one night if you are not careful!
Be sure to cover them with a net before they start to ripen so the birds don’t get them before you do.
We now need to start thinking about winter and spring colour as it is the ideal time to sow your winter flowering pansies, violas, bellis, forget me knots and wall flowers.
Simply fill a tray with good quality seed compost, lightly firm and thinly sow the seeds and cover with a thin layer of compost. Water well and keep them moist until they have germinated. When large enough prick out into small pots or a cell tray. Grow on until large enough and the pots are filled with roots. This is good practice for most seeds apart from wallflowers.
Wallflowers prefer to be sown direct into the soil and then moved to their final growing site when they are large enough. Just scrape a drill about 3cm (1”) deep and sow thinly, cover and firm slightly. Water well and keep them moist. When large enough thin to 16-19cm (5-6”) apart grow on until large enough to transfer to their final growing position.