for the Month | July 2007
Tasks of the Month for July
sun may finally be here to stay by mid July for a few months... we hope! It shoukd
be a month full of rewards in the garden as you start to see the fruits of your
labours. Herbaceous borders come alive with colour and the air is filled with
the sweet scent of summer. Keep your garden looking good with our guide to this
General garden care
Many spring-flowering shrubs can be pruned as soon as their flowers have started
to fade. Any shoots that have carried flowers can be cut back, shortening them
to shape the shrub and control its size and vigour. Forsythia can grow large and
ungainly if left to its own devices, so prune to give the shrub a definite shape
and form. This and other shrubs, such as Berberis darwinnii, are sometimes grown
as hedges, so can be pruned to give a more formal structure. All the flowering
stems of Prunus triloba can be pruned to their woody base, while selective pruning
on philadelphus and weigela stops them getting large and woody.
Twist blanket weed out of ponds with a long stick.
Mow lawns more frequently and lower the cutting height if grass is growing very
Sometimes buds on the stems of apple and pear trees remain
dormant and don't develop. This isn't a problem unless you are trying to train
the tree into a formal shape and need a shoot to grow from the exact position
of the dormant bud. Notching is a technique you can use to try and force it into
growth. Use a sharp knife to cut out a small piece of bark just above the bud.
Do this during the growing season and the sap flowing along the stem will be directed
towards the bud instead of by-passing it, and should encourage the bud to develop
into a shoot.
Thin out seedlings of hardy annuals sown directly into
The Flower garden
Potted lilies will be growing quickly now and as their flowers start developing
they will need some support. Push several canes into the compost around the edge
of the pot, linking them up with string to provide stability. If border lilies
are not supported by neighbouring plants, use stakes around these too.
Sprinkle rose fertiliser around roots to encourage strong growth and a good flower
display. Water in if rain does not fall within a couple of weeks or hoe into the
soil, taking care not to harm the roots.
Once irises have finished flowering in June, congested clumps
can be lifted, divided and replanted. Reduce the leaf area by half and replant
so that the rhizomes rest at the soil surface.
Dig up large clumps now and divide into individual plants, each with leaves and
roots. Replant into newly prepared soil.
Plant out tender bedding plants once all danger of frost has passed. If they have
been grown in the greenhouse, harden off in a cold frame for a few days before
planting out. Pots and trays of bedding plants can be placed on the patio during
the day, but moved back under cover at night. Give them a boost by watering them
in with liquid fertiliser.
and early perennials
Remember to cut off the old flower stems before
they start to set seed. This will tidy the appearance of the plant but as an added
bonus may even encourage a second flush of flowers. Also keep a watchful eye out
for lupin aphids which should be controlled with an insecticide if necessary.
As soon as cuttings taken earlier in the season have produced a good root system,
or plants have outgrown their pots, pot them into a slightly larger pot. Try and
use the same compost as they were potted in before. Don't overfill with compost,
but leave a gap at the top of the pot that can be watered into.
Many young plants, including fuchsias, benefit from having their shoot tips pinched
out to encourage branching. If left, shoots can grow very long and lanky, while
pinching out creates bushier plants with more stems that ultimately carry more
Take cuttings of geraniums, fuchsias, coleus and other
Pick off dead flowers and seed-heads, unless you are aiming to save seed for new
plants. Let the stem die down naturally, then cut it away neatly at its base.
Most composts only contain sufficient nutrients
to feed plants for about four to six weeks after potting up. Potted plants will
then benefit from a weekly liquid feed to promote strong growth and generous flowering
Paint greenhouses with a shading paint or put roller blinds
or shade netting in place for hot days.
Tap the blooms on greenhouse tomatoes to improve pollination.
The Kitchen garden
Thin out rows of vegetable seedlings growing from earlier
sowings, such as beetroot, lettuce and radish. Final spacings are usually indicated
on seed packets. Congested seedlings never reach their full potential, as they
distort one another as they grow, resulting in a much smaller crop. Carefully
pull out unwanted seedlings, leaving the rest at the desired spacing, then water
the row to settle the soil back around the roots of the remaining ones. Crops
to sow outside in early June include runner beans, dwarf French beans, kohl rabi,
carrots, marrows, cauliflowers, peas, ridge cucumbers, sweet corn, swede, lettuce,
endive, squashes and spinach.
out for pests
As the weather warms up, and spring moves into summer,
the garden becomes a real battleground, with pests attacking flowers, fruits and
vegetables as soon as your back is turned. Be on the lookout for the first signs
of attack, picking off any pests found. Weigh up the pros and cons of leaving
plants to look after themselves and putting up with some damage, or applying regular
preventive sprays to stop pests taking hold. For instance, gooseberries are almost
always attacked by sawfly caterpillars and a preventive spray will stop leaves
being eaten away to their skeletons.
A good crop of slightly smaller leeks can be grown by multi-seeding them into
modules of compost. Sown in February or March, modules can be planted out in May
or June, leaving the leeks to grow in clumps. Space the modules 15cm to 20cm (6in
to 8in) in rows 30cm (12in) apart.
Tie new canes of raspberries and blackberries on to support
wires as they grow. Keep them separate from last year's shoots which will flower
and fruit this summer.
Spread nets over soft fruit bushes, such as currants, and
over strawberries growing in rows or in containers. Once blackbirds and other
birds find fruits to their taste they will return again and again and will quickly
strip plants of unprotected fruit.