Summer officially commenced on June 21st so let’s hope some decent weather does as well. It has been reasonably warm but with erratic sunshine and severe showers and the odd storm in the UK. Well we need the rain, preferably at night and certainly not more during the day!
There are many jobs to do but we should make the most of this special time of the year to relax and enjoy all our hard work and efforts over the past few months.
Important Jobs to do in July and August
Warmer weather catches us on the hop when we get a dry period and suddenly find the soil, containers and hanging baskets drying out very quickly. A good idea is to add water crystals with compost and soil to containers and hanging baskets. They produce water filled jelly which lasts a considerable time and makes a big difference in hot weather. Compost and manure on its own dries out fast so some loamy soil will be required which will be a better water retaining combination. Newly planted trees and shrubs MUST be kept well watered for the first year!
Mulching with compost and especially manure for nitrogen demanding plants is recommended – such as Roses – and some vegetables Brassicas (but not Legumes, peas and beans as they have their own nitrogen nodules in the roots). Do keep watered. Mulching also has the effect of retaining moisture in all growing media. You will see very rapidly the improvement in your plants well-being, it’s very encouraging.
Lawns will rapidly dry out, even with some rain which barely penetrates roots, so one thorough watering is proven to be more effective than an occasional sprinkle with the watering can. Add high nitrogen liquid feed according to manufacturer’s label.
Remove spring bulbs and leaves but keep stored bulbs dry and lightly dust with sulphur powder if any sign of disease.
Clear ponds and aquatic areas of surface congested oxygen plants/weeds now after a tough winter. Remove excess silt and general detritus and check and trim water plants and their containers.
Dead heading flowers can be a bit laborious but well worth the effort as it directs the plant’s energy to continue flowering rather than going to seed too early. It only takes a few minutes with some secateurs and you will be well rewarded especially with the Roses.
Plants and their families recommended in July–Aug. Pinks (Foxglove family). Lily (Amaryllis). Iris (wet or bearded), Sisyrincha, Dierama(Angels fishing rod) Tigridia (all Iris family). Euphorbia for fragrant foliage (Euphorbia family) and not forgetting those wonderful Herbs (Mentha –Mint family quick to grow from seed in a pot is best as the herbaceous plants grow and spread very rapidly.
Annual Pelargoniums (Geranium family).
Harvest Summer vegetables carrots, beans, onions and shallots, early potatoes. Sow winter brassicas and winter salads.
Wildlife The European Water voles (Arvicolia amphibius ) are very special semi aquatic amphibians. It only resembles a rat superficially but has rounder noses deep brown fur, chubby faces and short fuzzy ears and also their tails, paws and ears are furry.
Just enjoy the garden, we all deserve it especially after the very trying long winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere. Keep a raincoat handy in the UK.
Tony Arnold ACIHort.