“Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon… the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
– Henry James
July is payback time! All that effort earlier in the year will now reap a reward in terms of fruit and vegetable harvests, and cut flowers for the home. It’s the month when the delivery of veg boxes can be suspended as we enjoy our home-grown crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, strawberries and much more.
Flower beds will be alive with colour this month and, hopefully, you will have included enough pollen- and nectar-rich plants to enjoy the sight and sound of bees and other insects as they forage.
Much of the heavy gardening will have been done earlier in the year, although there is always weeding, so now is the time to relax and enjoy the beautiful space that you have created.
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Our top ten recommended tasks for July include:
- Dead-head bedding plants and roses to encourage further flowering and remove any fallen rose petals to prevent fungal disease forming
- Baskets and containers can dry out quickly in warm, sunny conditions and may need watering twice a day. Feed regularly to promote flowering
- Faded flower-spikes on lupins, campanula, delphinium, etc. can be cut down to just above a new shoot or leaf. Apply liquid feed to each plant to encourage fresh growth
- Keep onions well-watered so as not to affect the size of the crop. Your onion hoe needs to be busy this month keeping down the weeds
- Remove side shoots on cordon tomatoes and feed regularly with a high potash liquid tomato fertiliser
- Houseplants enjoy spending the summer outside, so find a sheltered spot for them and give them some air
- Prune established plum and apricot trees
- Keep picking sweet peas for enjoying as cut flowers indoors and feed the plants every 12 days
- Prune shrubs that flowered in early summer
- Your garden birds will enjoy a dish of fresh water to both drink from and bathe in – and you’ll get the pleasure of watching them
Herbs for Wildlife
Many of us, including our town and country councils, are turning away from manicured lawns and neatly strimmed roadsides. Instead, the sowing of wildflowers is growing in popularity – either to form meadows, to clothe verges or simply to fill a space in the garden. Have you set aside a little space for beneficial insects?
The good news is that, in addition to flowers, many herbs are also beneficial to insects. So, you can enjoy their form in the garden and include them in your cooking whilst also helping garden wildlife. Just remember to give the herbs a good shake after cutting. You don’t want to be inadvertently eating those very insects you are trying to help!
Dill – attractive to hoverflies, bees, ladybirds and lacewings Leave the dead dill in place over winter so that insects can hibernate inside the hollow stems.
Chives – these produce loads of nectar so are much loved by bees and some butterflies.
Lavender – bees and butterflies will linger on this nectar-rich plants and seed-eating birds will have a feast once the seed heads have dried.
Lemon balm – bees enjoy the smell and nectar, plus humans can use the leaves to relieve the pain of stings and bites! It smells much better than dock too!
Lovage – attractive to bees, hoverflies and wasps (yes, there are beneficial wasps!)
Rosemary – flowers early in the year providing welcome nectar to hungry bees, hoverflies and butterflies.
Tansy – not only attractive and colourful to the gardener but also to bees, lacewings, ladybirds, wasps and butterflies.
Angelica – tall and stately, the flower heads will be covered in beneficial insects with blue tits and finches enjoying the autumn seed.
Christine’s Patch – Caring for Fruit Trees
Hi, I’m Christine Loader, Horticultural and Technical Advisor here at Suttons. I have been an avid gardener all my life and have a passion for growing fruit and vegetables. When I am not in my greenhouse I can usually be found on my allotment. Gardening has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I look forward to sharing my expertise with you in our newsletter. This month we’re looking at how to get the most from your grafted veg plants.
Now is the time to prune stone fruit such as Nectarines, Peaches, Apricots, Plums and Cherries. Prune away all diseased or dead wood and remove any overcrowding branches. On stems larger than ½” use a sealant such as Arbrex to minimize the risk of infections.
Suckering growth below the rootstock should be pulled off immediately whenever it appears to ensure no vigour is lost.
Keep the grass clear from around the base of the fruit trees and water them during dry periods. Mulching around the base of the trees is a great way of preserving the moisture in the soil and it slowly releases nutrients for the tree. A starved tree cannot support a large crop and lack of nutrients will affect next year’s harvest.
Bacterial Canker is a serious threat to all Prunus species and spraying with a solution of copper sulphate is recommended once the fruit has been harvested and repeated once a month until October. Spray one more time just before the buds open in the spring.
If your Peach or Nectarine leaves are covered with red blisters and are curling up, then your tree may be affected by Peach Leaf Curl. This is a fungal disease spread by wind and rain. Keep your tree out of winter wet in a protected place such as a greenhouse. Spray with a fungicide before any buds open and again after the fruit has been harvested.
Greenfly infestation also causes leaves to curl and, if left untreated, the growth will be stunted and poor.
Fruit trees grown in pots will need extra careful watering and feeding. Nutrients can be washed out faster if watered frequently. Compost can dry out quickly in hot weather and great care must be taken that the compost is fully hydrated. Dry roots will cause a lot of stress on a tree and it may abort any fruit or fruit may not develop well. Never apply a fertiliser when the compost is dry, always water first and then apply the fertiliser afterwards.
RHS Gardening Shows
Not only is a day spent wandering around one of the many glorious RHS garden shows relaxing and enjoyable, it’s also a perfect way to gain ideas and inspiration. So, definitely not a “jolly”, more of a beneficial research exercise!
Upcoming shows to visit include:
RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival
1st – 7th July 2019
“A wonderful summer’s day out packed with gardening inspiration, stunning floral displays and workshops in a majestic setting.”
RHS Tatton Park
17th – 21st July 2019
“A fabulous day out bursting with colourful gardening inspiration, fun family activities, have-a-go workshops and boutique shopping.”
RHS Garden Hyde Hall Flower Show
31st July – 4th August 2019
“Hyde Hall’s 10th anniversary Flower Show is a five-day floral extravaganza. with specialist nurseries, shopping, expert advice and live music.”
Offer of the Month
F1 Summerlast: 3 x 2-litre potted plants for £15!
Or 1 x 2-litre potted plant for £7.99
A new blight-resistant tomato that everyone can grow!
- Perfectly sized for patios
- Crops throughout the summer and into autumn
- Produces a good crop of large cherry-sized fruit
- Sweet fruits – great to snack on or for salads
- Stay green trait, so their leaves won’t turn yellow
Buy your FI Summerlast plants while stocks last!