The holiday season is almost upon us; ensure you have some help to water / feed plants whilst you are away. Ask a friendly neighbour and share watering duties!
Be water wise in these drier months. Collect rainwater to water garden and containers.
Water consistently so plants do not get stressed and bolt. Try to avoid tap water as it contains chlorine.
Dead head annuals and perennials to prolong flowering period.
Continue to pick cut flowers to prolong flower production i.e. sweetpeas.
Most roses will produce new buds once deadheaded.
Stake tall perennials to stop them breaking in the wind. Add supports to ‘floppy’ perennials.
Keep an eye on all strong self-seeding plants and thin out as necessary e.g. Forget-me-nots.
Harvest crops regularly to stop fruit and veg either growing too large or becoming old and tough i.e. lettuce, beetroot, peas, carrots, chard, potatoes, courgettes, broad beans, garlic, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, currants.
Stop picking rhubarb around the end of July unless you have an ‘all-year-round’ variety. This gives the crown time to recharge its energy ready for next year’s crop also oxalic acid increases in the stems and can cause tummy aches but is not higher enough to be toxic.
Pinch out tomato side shoots. Tie in cucumber stems.
Check tomatoes and potatoes for blight.
Check plants for aphids. Carefully wipe off with tissue. Pinch out broad bean tips to combat blackfly. Check gooseberry bushes for sawfly larvae.
Net fruit to deter birds eating it, if you have not already done so.
Check tree ties are not too tight; do not want it to cut into bark as trunk grows.
Thin out small apples to help avoid brown rot and allow remaining fruit to have space to swell.
Ponds: clear excess blanket and duckweed; leave waste on pond side so wildlife can crawl out safely. Remove fallen leaves/petals. Pop in a barley straw bale to keep water clear and reduce weed regrowth.
Lawns will grow quickly at this time of year but resist harsh cuts. Mow about a third of the height to keep healthy and neat but avoid scorching or pulling up clumps.
Good time of year to apply a lawn fertilizer e.g. Evergreen 4-in-1 to boost nutrients and keep it green.
Cut out leaves affected by hollyhock rust, clematis wilt, rose black spot. Pick up all leaves at base of plant to avoid them returning through the soil to the plant’s roots; break the cycle.
Sow winter brassicas. Plant second cropping potatoes. Sow seed for winter flowers.
Plant autumn bulbs such as Nerines.
Plants to prune now or AFTER flowering / fruiting: Wisteria summer prune of wispy new shoots, cut back, Buxux (Box) new plants should be trimmed to encourage bushy growth; Nepeta, hardy Geraniums and Delphiniums to encourage a second bloom; Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle), Euphorbia characias ‘Wulfenii’ remove spent flowers stems, Philadelphus (mock orange), Lonicera (shrubby honeysuckle), Viburnum tinus and plicatum, Weigela, Ceanothus, blackcurrants once collected crop; prune plum, cherry, apricot trees, summer prune cordon, espalier and fan apple and pears.
Prune the fruited stems of blackcurrants as you harvest. Blackcurrants will crop next year on new stems whereas redcurrants fruit on old wood.
Pinch out tips of sideshoots on Fig trees to increase crop. Also note figs produce a heavier crop if roots are constricted.
Feed flowering plants with high potash fertiliser to prolong flowering period.
Give acid loving plants, (azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, blueberries) a boost with ericaceous feed.
Keep greenhouses well ventilated. Remember to water plants regularly. On hot days dampen down greenhouse to increase humidity and reduce red spider mites.
Keep a look out for vine weevil, lily beetle, sawfly, slugs and aphids.
Annual weeds. Gently hoe / agitate soil surface or pull shallow roots. Be careful to avoid new seedlings and existing plants. Deep digging will bring dormant seeds to the surface and actually create more weeds so try and keep soil disturbance to a minimum. Regular weeding will prevent weeds going to seed and reduce spread. Look out for annuals such as annual meadow grass, annual nettles, hairy bittercress, groundsel, chickweed, speedwell, cleavers, fat hen, shepherd’s purse, and creeping oxalis & buttercup.
Tackle perennial weeds such as ground elder & bindweed. Avoid chemicals if possible; if you cannot avoid them then treat specific area, wrap in a plastic bag to contain it whilst still attached to parent plant so systematic weedkiller can work its way to the roots; otherwise dig out as much as possible, try to untwine from border plant roots. Virtually impossible to dig out completely as even an inch of root left in ground re-grows but new plants will have weaker/unestablished new roots so easier to remove and over time the problem can be managed and maintained. Digging out needs to be regularly repeated.
Remove tap rooted weeds. You can buy specific taproot tools to avoid disturbing soil and plants around the weed. Try to remove entire taproot or it will re-grow. If no other option, apply either glyphosate-based systematic weedkiller to specific weed; this will kill the root; or an alternative to glyphosate is pelargonic acid (naturally occurring in geranium leaves).
Look out for slugs and snails on new shoots! Either pick off, use beer traps, copper rings, shingle/egg shells, Nematodes ‘Nemaslug’. If using slug pellets use organic ferric phosphate (child & pet friendly) I personally use Sluggo Slug & Snail Killer by Neudorff; can be used on edible crops also resistant to rain. Try to avoid metaldehyde-based products. I also do use Nematodes.
Gardens are delicately balanced ecosystems so try not to totally eradicate pests as they will be a food source for other creatures i.e. birds/frogs love slugs & snails! Everything co-existing, with no dominant species, will equal a healthy garden.