Dig it

Gardening advice for the new (and not so new) gardener with Fulke Andel

This is often one of the hottest months of the year and a great time to sit out and enjoy your garden. Well that’s the kiss of death now! Keep plants looking good by regularly dead-heading, and 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 on 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 com-post will help.

Water is a precious commodity – instigate good practises such as using kitchen and bath water (as long as it is neither too dirty, greasy nor full of deter-gent) 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 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 root ball 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 for the month of 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
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Spring onions
  • Peas
  • Early potatoes
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

 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 conservatory 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
  • 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

Limit the impact of wire worm and keel slugs on your potatoes by placing sliced pieces of pur-chased white potatoes on the surface of the soil around your plants, once they start to flower. The pests are drawn to these and leave your underground crop alone. Replace every few days.  I.C. Pennard

Seasonal Recipe

French beans and runner beans should be plentiful now. So here’s a recipe I first encountered while visiting an old school friend of mine, outside Toulouse a number of years ago. You will need French Beans (topped and tailed) butter, diced garlic, chopped parsley salt and pepper.

Boil the beans for a few minutes, ensuring they remain ‘crispy’ (3 to 4 mins usually). In a frying pan heat the butter and add the garlic and parsley, fry for a minute or two then add the pre-cooked beans continuing to fry until they become imbibed with the butter/garlic/parsley. Add some freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt and serve.

This recipe works just as well with sliced runner beans and you can include chopped bacon and or diced onions to ring the changes.

 

 

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