July and August are generally our hottest months of the year and it is also holiday time for many of us, so with this in mind I have put together a reminder of small tasks that may need doing in your garden over the high summer months.
Brookside Nursery Top Tips for the summer months:-
Many roses have had a first flush of blooms so, using sharp secateurs, snip of the deadheads but taking care (in the case of floribunda roses) not to take off any buds to still come out. Once all the flowers have faded, prune back to an outward facing leaf. Hybrid tea roses (that flower once), can have the stems shortened by at least a third now to just above an outward facing leaf.
DAHLIAS, HOLLYHOCKS AND GLADIOLIS
Stake any taller plants that may either have their stems snapped by gusty winds or that may become top heavy with blooms and check any supports you may already have in place as these may have become dislodged. Pick bunches of dahlias for using in vases as they make a wonderful display and if you have too many, give a bunch to a neighbour who may not grow flowers. Everyone loves flowers and who knows, you may be given some home-grown veggies in exchange.
Cordon variety (one main stem) tomatoes can have the top cut off once the desired height has been reached. . Grown in my greenhouse, this is usually when they reach the top of the bamboo pole I tie them to. If grown outside, when they have four trusses of fruits is ideal. Feed with a high-potash fertiliser to get a good crop and continue to pinch off the side shoots that form above leaf axils. Any bush or trailing varieties of tomatoes can be left to grow as normal.
Ensure that runner beans are watered regularly at their roots as they are thirsty plants. This encourages the flowers to set and the pods to form. Pinch out the tops of the plants once they reach the top of their supports to stop them getting too tall and too top-heavy. Keep weeds at bay by hoeing gently between the rows.
Give away or freeze any gluts of beans that you have, ready to eat later in the year. Top and tail the beans, blanch them for a couple of minutes in boiling water then drain and cool them before putting into the freezer. Eat on Christmas Day along with the sprouts that should be put on to boil anytime from October (Only joking, it’s September!).
I love the versatility of strawberries. They can be grown in pots, hanging baskets, containers and in the ground, depending on the variety you choose. Once your main crop of strawberries has been harvested you can place any runners (young plantlets) into smaller pots of compost and peg them down so they form roots. Once rooted, they can be cut from the parent plant and transplanted either into a larger pot or into the soil. Strawberries stop ripening once picked so wait until they are fully red before picking.
WEED AND FEED YOUR FLOWERBEDS
I love to potter in the garden in the summer and by that I mean always having a pair of flower snippers/secateurs to hand as I walk around several times a day. There is always something that needs my attention so I expect it is the same in your garden too. Deadheading spent flowers, cutting back any stalks of tall perennials such as foxgloves, lupins and delphiniums and tidying any straggly plants all gives a ‘cared for’ look to the garden. Any areas of bare soil can be dug over lightly and you could add a colourful summer bedding plant or two.
To boost the growth of plants that have flowered and to encourage more flowers it is a good time in the season to give your flowerbeds a general feed such as blood, fish and bone. This may need to be watered in if the ground is dry for any length of time.
It is ideal if you can arrange a neighbour or relative to water your pot plants and greenhouse plants if you are away for any length of time over the summer, but we haven’t all got that option. I have found that grouping plant pots together in a shady spot in the garden and giving them water before being away for a few days works very well. For longer periods I will leave them in shallow trays, trugs, buckets, saucepans, washing-up bowls, and the wheel barrow, anything that is a receptacle really will do and part-fill these with water.
If you are going to be away regularly it is worth spending the money setting up a watering irrigation system, especially for the vegetable garden and your hanging basket displays. These days they can even be worked from you mobile telephone so you have real peace of mind that your plants are getting the water they need.
Have a wonderful summer and don’t forget to take time to enjoy your garden!