Dig it – with Fulke Andel

Gardening Advice for the new (and not so new) gardener

Torrential rain and high winds constituted the bulk of the notable weather during June, let’s hope that July provides us with the good summer weather that our gardens are crying out for. Deadhead plants regularly to keep them looking good, especially geraniums. By doing so you’ll enjoy a longer display of blooms. Make sure you keep new plants well watered and hoe off weeds, which thrive in the sunshine.

Water thoroughly once or twice a week rather than little and often – this encourages plants to put down roots in search of water rather than coming up to the surface. Remember, though, that containers and hanging baskets need watering every day and sometimes even twice a day if it is hot and windy.

For recently planted large shrubs or trees, leave a hose trickling around the base for an hour. The same goes for established plants in very dry periods – pay particular attention to camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas which will abort next season’s flowers if they get too dry. Mulch around the roots when moist to help avoid this. Recently planted hedges are best watered with a trickle hose (a length of old hose punctured with little holes) left running for an hour or so.

Ensure trees or shrubs planted in the last couple of years in lawns or in areas of rough grass have a circle of clear earth around them – this must be kept clear or grass will prevent essential moisture getting through. Mulching with bark or compost will help.

Water is a precious commodity – instigate good practices such as using kitchen and bath water (as long as it is neither too dirty, greasy nor full of detergent) for watering, collect rainwater in butts and investigate ways to recycle water for your irrigation. A good investment might be a water butt pump that you can also use to pump water from your bath, out of the window and into your water butt. May draw some comments from the neighbours, but you’ll be doing your bit to conserve water and if you’re on a water meter like me, you could save yourself some serious money as well!

The key to successful planting, whether it be a shrub, tree, perennial or bedding plant is to water in well. Soak the root-ball in a bucket until no air bubbles come to the surface, dig the planting hole, fill with water and allow to drain away. Place the plant in the hole, fill with soil, firm gently and water well with a watering can – this will give the plant a huge advantage over one planted with a dry rootball in a dry hole and watered only on the surface.

Hoe beds and borders to get rid of annual weeds, like bitter cress and chickweed. If it’s dry, attack perennial weeds like ground elder and the like with systemic weed killer painted onto the leaves and trail tips of bindweed into jam jars full of the same. Remember systemic weed killers are indiscriminate and will kill anything they contact.

If you don’t have time to do this, at least cut the culprits down to prevent them from setting seed.

Keep your pond topped up with fresh water – a build up of algae in warm weather can be toxic, if not fatal, for fish.
Pests love warm weather, so be on your guard! Caterpillar and aphid infestations can be dealt with by hand if caught early enough, but should the situation career out of control you will have to resort to insecticides or grin and bear it! Greenfly and blackfly especially love the heat and don’t forget aphids and other sap-sucking insects can transmit viruses so don’t give in to the sympathy vote. Try and attract beneficial insects by growing a wide variety of plants – ladybirds and their larvae are consummate aphid predators, as are lacewings and even wasps.


JOBS TO DO IN THE GARDEN FOR JULY

Sow/Plant

Spring cabbage / Chicory / Chinese cabbage / Kohlrabi / Lettuce / Peas / French beans / Beetroot /

Carrots / Radishes

Plant Out

Broccoli and calabrese / Cabbages and cauliflowers / Kale / Leeks

Harvest

Most vegetables should be coming on stream, so you could be enjoying:-

Broad beans / French beans / Runner beans / Cabbage / Carrots / Cauliflower / Celery / Courgettes /

Cucumbers / Kale / Kohlrabi / Lettuce / Onions / Spring onions / Peas / Early potatoes / Radish /

Spinach / Tomatoes / Turnips

Fruit

Many fruits are ready to harvest or swelling. Swelling fruit requires a lot of water so ensure they have enough.

July is a good month for summer pruning apple trees and plum trees.

General

Check clematis for signs of clematis wilt

Place conservaatory plants outside now that it is warm

Water tubs and new plants if dry, but be water-wise

Deadhead bedding plants and repeat-flowering perennials, to ensure continuous flowering

Pick courgettes before they become marrows

Pinch out the tops of broad bean plants once they start to flower, to discourage attack from blackfly

Treat apple scab

Clear algae, blanket weeds and debris from ponds, and keep them topped up

Order catalogues for next year’s spring-flowering bulbs

Give the lawn a quick-acting summer feed, especially if a spring feed was not done

Give woodwork a lick of paint or preserver, while the weather is dry

Readers Tips

Once your potatoes start to flower, you can limit the impact of wire worm and keel slugs by placing slices of purchased white potatoes on the surface of the soil around your plants. The pests are drawn to these and leave your under-ground crop alone. Replace every few days. MT Southgate

Seasonal Recipe

Broad beans should now be plentiful in the shops and work really well with smoked bacon. Here’s a recipe for a light supper, it serves 2. You’ll need about 250g of shelled broad beans, 4 smoked bacon rashers, 4 or 5 spring onions, some fresh herbs – dill and mint, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, some olive oil.

Cook the beans in boiling salted water for 4 or 5 mins, then cool them under cold running water, remove their skins. Finely slice the spring onions and the dill – enough dill for 2 tablespoons. Add them to a bowl containing the white wine vinegar, add a handful of mint leaves (torn not chopped) and a splash of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the bacon until crisp put 2 rashers per person on a plate, add the beans to the herb dressing and share between the 2 plates. Serve with crusty bread.


 

 

 

 


 

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