The storm of activity is abating. All your hard work in Spring and early Summer is paying dividends. The easing of lockdown means that you can still buy some lovely plants and even top up your vegetables with discounted punnets. Gardens all over the UK have never been so well tendered and every second shed is gleaming with new paint.
For all small annual weeds like Chickweed, you can hoe them back in the soil. For bindweed and dandelions I’m afraid the only way is to dig them out as deeply as you can and know that it is a truce, rather then a victory, you might have to settle for.
Dahlias need lots of water at this time of year as their flower buds are forming. It’s not too late to pinch out the growing stem, thus encouraging two or more flowers to be produced from lots of side shoots lower down the plant (again go to Youtube for a tutorial!) Once thy are 40cm in height you can pinch them out, or if you want very big blooms pinch out all but two or three flowers.
Deadheading is all about more sex, less babies, as the plant thinks that, when its fertilised flower that is turning into a seed is removed, it needs to go out there again and attract more pollinators, therefore more flowers. So have fun with this orgy of nature and increase the flowering lifespan of your beds. Sweet peas and Penstemons, Roses abd Scabios particularly benefit from this. You can also deal with Geraniums, Delphiniums and Lupins in this way though plants famous for their seedbeds like Sunflowers, Nigella, Physalis, Cornflowers and Rudbekia look great with their seedbeds intact. Big shrub roses like Rosa rugosa also won’t really flower well a second time and it may be nicer to leave their bright red rose hips to fatten on the stems.
Clematis can get a fungus commonly known as Clematis Wilt. There is no chemical cure so just removing diseased leaves can help. Check if your Clematis is in the right place. They like deep, moist soils, partially shaded especially at their roots. Many a Clematis struggles at the foot of a dry wall and then become more prone to disease. Look up more disease resistant cultivars if you still have trouble each year eg Clematis Alpina
Tomatoes need to be pinched out especially of space is an issue. Corgettes can be picked small and even their flowers fried in batter and eaten with white wine. At the beginning of the season lots of male flowers are produced. Once the female flowers appear ( you can identify them as they have a slight swelling at their base which is an embryonic fruit) the male flowers can be eaten.
A high potash fertiliser can be given to tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers now.
Garlic can be picked once it’s leaves look yellow and bent. Potatoes need to be watched, and more earth piled up around their tubers to stop the potatoes getting too much light and turning green.
If you are interested in Winter vegetables, or those that can survive the Winter and be ready for next Spring, try sowing carrots, spring onions, garlic, asparagus and Pak Choi.
Look under your cabbage leaves for the little yellow eggs of the cabbage white moth and wipe them away.
Any shrubs that have recently flowered can be pruned and shaped now, and wisteria can have its long octopus tendrils tamed. Irisis can be divided
You ideally want about 50% of the pond covered in vegetation to keep the water cool. Blanket weed can be taken out by hand or with a rake though careful not to take the good oxygenating plants with it. You can still order plants from aquatic plants online.
A reader recently alerted me to a comment I made about pruning hedges in Summer, concerned about nesting birds. Whilst it is illegal to disturb nesting birds if you know they are in the hedge, and generally the nesting season is from March till August in the UK, most small garden evergreen and deciduous hedges won’t be housing nests. It is important to do a thorough examination of your hedge, but almost all will need summer trimming. Formative shaping of hedges is best left to Winter if they are deciduous and early Spring if they are evergreen.
Where to go this July
Have a look at experiencewestsussex.com for day outings in nature. If your armchair is more appealing, you could make a list of 5 aspects of gardening you are uncertain about and look them up on Youtube. Youtube is full of gentle and well meaning folk wanting to share their gardening discoveries!