By now the majority of your hard work in the garden is done, the plants are blooming and the vegetables cropping, but don’t sit back….here are some jobs to keep you busy.
A gentle hoe regularly will eliminate all those weeds before they take hold or go to seed and remember that weeds will take valuable moisture away from your plants too.
Grass tends to grow less during the very warm weather so when you do mow cut on a high blade and refrain from using a weed/feed and moss kill until the autumn.
Please make sure that a supply of fresh drinking water is available and if feeding use a seed mix rather than suet treats or peanuts during the summer months.
Pruning and Dead Heading
Keep all of your bedding plants dead headed, it not only enhances the look of the plant but allows new flowers to form quickly and encourages more, so well worth the hassle!
Remove spent flowers from rose bushes and cut back foliage of herbaceous plants such as dicentra and remove tired leaves from hardy geraniums to encourage a new flush of growth.
Do not let your herbs flower as these are used for their foliage and flowering will spoil the plant.
Prune back old rosemary and lavender flowers and dry them off, if you fancy using them as pot pourri.
Prune wispy wisteria growth right back to approximately one foot.
Collect seed heads from plants such as poppies, lupins and delphiniums and dry in a paper bag, sow in open ground next year where you require them to flower.
Everything will need your attention to see it through the dry spell. Baskets, pots, borders and even lawns will rely on you watering them. Cracks can easily appear in lawns and borders and the soil becomes compacted. Where possible use recycled water but ensure you keep on top of the task as once things dry out it is very difficult to get them to retain water as well as it previously did, so little and often is better than leaving it until they keel over.
Remember to use that leaky hose amongst your borders or lawns and if using sprinklers move them regularly and only use for limited periods or set on a timer.
Liquid feed all bedding and salad vegetables to encourage new flowers. Switch to a high potassium feed for tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers this will help the fruits to set meaning higher yields. Tomatoes need consistent watering to avoid them picking up the dreaded blossom end rot.
Fruit and Vegetables
Plant a trough or container with winter salad leaves and position in a sunny position on the patio and near the kitchen door, use the leaves in either salads or stir fry’s throughout the autumn. Make sure the container has a minimum depth of 15cm (6inches) and good drainage, water regularly and pick the leaves as soon as they are large enough.
Lift and pot strawberry runners and cut out any old fruited raspberry canes.
The vegetable garden will be full of produce to pick now, from raspberries to cucumbers, courgettes to spinach, pick regularly and don’t let anything bolt. Harvest courgettes whilst reasonably small to stop them maturing into marrows, you can also freeze for use later in sauces or stir fry’s.
Continue picking blackberries and late raspberries, early apples and pears may be ready, test by twisting the fruit on the tree, if they come away easily they are ready to eat.
Add green manure to any areas of vegetable garden that are sitting empty, this is a good way of naturally feeding the soil.
Ventilate greenhouses and apply shading if it is situated in full sun, damp down greenhouse floors on hot days to maintain humidity levels.
Plant of the Month
Penstemon; This ‘must have’ plant has short stems of large bell shaped flowers, which appear early summer and continue well into the autumn. There are numerous varieties and flower colours to choose from but all are perfect for mixed borders or in containers. Situated in a free draining soil they usually overwinter without a problem.