July in the garden, a time to stop and admire the beauty of nature, a time to sit in your garden and relax for a while. The garden is bursting with life but you’ll need to keep watering and giving flowers and vegetables extra care to keep them growing.
- Be sure to keep all new plantings well-watered: shrubs and trees in particular can need much more water than you’d think. A thorough dousing twice a week is better than a little each day.
- Keep feeding and dead-heading bedding plants to keep the flowers coming. If they start to look tired and straggly, cutting them back, followed by a generous feed, will usually encourage them to try harder.
- Give dahlias a liquid feed, keep them well watered and tie the shoots of tall varieties to sturdy stakes as they grow.
- Hoe and hand-weed borders often, so weeds don’t have time to set seed.
- Water and feed sweet peas regularly, pick the flowers every few days, and remove seed pods to prolong flowering.
- Cut back early summer perennials, such as hardy geraniums and delphiniums, after flowering for a second flush.
- Feed and deadhead roses to keep them flowering strongly.
- Check crops such as runner beans regularly for aphids, and rub or wash them off straight away, before they multiply.
- Water-thirsty plants such as celery, beans, peas, courgettes, pumpkins, and tomatoes regularly.
- Make the last pickings of rhubarb and remove any flower spikes that start to form, cutting right down at the base.
- Thin out heavy crops of apples, pears, and plums, and remove any malformed, damaged, or undersized fruits.
- Prune plum trees in dry weather when silver leaf fungal disease is less prevalent.
- Peg down strawberry runners into pots of compost to root new plants.
- Pick courgettes regularly so they don’t turn into marrows.
- Sow small batches of fast-maturing salad leaves, rocket, and radishes every few weeks for continuous pickings.
- Cut down broad beans after harvesting, but leave the roots in the soil to release nitrogen as they decompose.
- Water hanging baskets and patio containers daily, in the morning or evening.
- Deadhead bedding plants, sweet peas and annuals every few days to encourage more flowers.
- Apply tomato feed fortnightly to crops in pots and growing bags, such as tomatoes and chillies, to encourage fruiting.
- Trim lavender after flowering to keep plants compact and bushy, but avoid cutting into old wood.
- As long as there is no drought, it’s worth feeding the lawn regularly. During dry weather, raise the blades on your lawn mower to allow the grass to grow a little bit longer. This will keep it greener and help it retain moisture.
- In dry weather, new plantings need water every two or three days until established. After a week or so, watering is only needed if the weather is very hot.
- Cut back early flowering perennials to the ground and they will send up fresh leaves and maybe even the bonus of some extra late-summer flowers. Give them a boost after pruning with a good soak of water and some tomato feed.
- Snip the tops off climbing beans when they reach the top of their supports, to maximise cropping on the side shoots. If you are growing cordon tomatoes, they will need stopping, too: cut off the main shoot above the fourth truss of developing fruit. That way, all the fruit should ripen before the end of the season. Both need plenty of water to be productive.
- Give your houseplants an airing – bringing them outside for a few weeks will do them well and add a new layer to the garden.
- Prune June flowering shrubs, such as philadelphus, spirea, and weigela, after they have flowered, cutting flowered wood back to a new shoot, and removing some of the oldest, less productive wood right down to the base.
- Perform a Hampton Hack: Like the Chelsea Chop, the Hampton Hack is a pruning method for herbaceous perennials in early July. It delays flowering and the resulting stems will be sturdier so reducing the tendency to flop. The idea is to cut down flowering stems by a third to a half before they bloom. You can cut across the whole plant, or just half the clump, say the front half. Or you can go through the clump cutting every other stem. You decide, depending on the results you’re after. You might want to cut some clumps and leave others of the same species to prolong the flowering season. Try it with sedum, helenium, perovskia, solidago, echinacea, aster, coreopsis and phlox.
I wish you ‘Happy Gardening’
The above is written by Rog Leppard, owner of English Cottage Chic Gardening, a professional gardener and gardening writer based in East Wellow, Romsey, Hampshire.