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Summer Gardener 2024 from Author of Science for the Gardener Book -Tony Arnold


Welcome to Summer

Climate change effects on gardens .

Gardeners by now  must be prepared for very varying and much warmer weather conditions in summertime and extremes of frost in the winter months .  We may experience torrential downpours as well as longer scorching days in the summer months  so temporary shelter for our more delicate plants and some hardy plants will  definitely be required and increased watering even for trees in Summer !!


Last year has brought casualties not evident until this year with many gardeners getting shocks when beloved trees failed to flower and died ,myself included ive recently  lost  my favourite  Acacia dealbata in a severe storm in Jan Feb and  nearly lost a  front of house South facing hardy Fuchsia . My  beloved  blue Ceanothus- californian lilac against a warmer west facing  house wall was destroyed by severe frost over two years of battling and being covered up. In the very hot summer of 6  yrs ago (30 deg for three months ) I lost a Prunus Kanzan but south facing was too hot or insufficient watering !.

We should not beat ourselves up over climate change as life must go on ,but  we should each try our best to follow good environmental practice  from professional horticultural research. The UN conferences are now  involving most  countries and governments  in taking decisive urgent action to reduce green house warming  gas emissions from fossil fuels and also currently  livestock farming methods that release huge amounts of methane gas which causes even more  severe global warming .

Science will win the battle but there is an immense ahead and we are running out of time!!

Regular garden maintenance in summer is a must.  I find a daily  written check early in the morning helps to commit to memory those many jobs I ought to be doing!  Whether they actually get done is another matter!

Watering should be done early  daily as soon as soil starts to dry out.  Add organic mulch (manure, compost or leaf mould) to flower beds and water retaining crystals to containers and baskets esp if you are away!!

 Lawns appreciate a high nitrogen liquid feed after the long months of winter and should be watered during long hot dry spells. Raise the height of mower blades and remove collection box to leave grass cuttings to protect new growth from burning at peak temperatures.and add back nitrogen . This should help your grass try to remain green.Stock up on fertilisers. The snow and heavy rains of winter will have leached away many of the main nutrients required by your plants.  I recommend tomato food (high in potassium) to boost flowering and phosphorus which will strengthen roots and stems, particularly if you are growing vegetables will react very favourably to proprietary feeds.Ericaceous plants Azaleas etc requires Iron and Manganese  sometimes called ‘sequestered iron’ and is the vital food required for acid-soil loving plants before and after flowering !!

Prune large shrubs and dig/cut  out any small  tree suckers.  This will promote fresh growth but also give light and space for a healthier garden.  Deadheading flowers past their sell by date will often trigger a fresh flush of flowers and prevent the plant from going to seed.  If you are willing to give it a go, herbs are easy to grow from seed, although grow them in containers or they will take  over.  Cut, trim dry and eat on a regular basis.  Don’t you just love summer.!

A kitchen garden if you have some space will provide a regular source of salad vegetables, just keep on sowing and picking.  Tomatoes can be planted out, but will do much better under glass.  Root crops grow well in a raised bed out of reach of the dreaded carrot fly.  Leguminous peas and beans do not require a rich soil, they produce their own nitrogen nodules , but some manure around the roots is beneficial. Brassicas like some lime ,manure to produce good rich humus soil and if possible soil depth again with raised beds is welcome .

Greenhouses should be checked for over-wintering pests, red spider mite in particular.  A thorough soapy sponge down works well.  Allow plenty of air circulation and dampen the floor on very hot days. 

A final tip – do not compost diseased plant material, or any protein or fat food waste.

Do e mail me if you have any science based garden queries for free  tony@scienceforthe

My book available forthe gardener. com will be personally signed and free post.

Enjoy the start to Summer 2024

Tony Arnold MCIHORT





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