Here we are right in the middle of summer, and I hope you find time to just sit in your garden, and do nothing but enjoy it. However, we have to look ahead, and plan what we can harvest and how the garden will look later in the year, when the bounty of summer is over.
Support Dahlias and other fast growing plants, tying stems to canes.
Water shrubs and trees planted earlier in the year, their root systems aren’t fully developed yet. My water-butts are almost empty, and water is so precious. I find the best method is to leave a hose-pipe trickling a small amount of water round the base of plants. This lets it really soak into the soil down to the roots and you don’t have to water so often.
Mulching, with compost, stops water seeping away too quickly.
It’s not too late to sow biennials, these are plants like foxgloves. They grow roots and a low, rosette of leaves, flowering next year.
I foraged some hollyhock seeds from a park recently. I really try to be thoughtful about this sort of thing, but, there were loads of plants, and seeds, so it felt ok
Dead-head spent flowers. It’s a nice, calming task, and keeps the plant blooming, it works by preventing the plant making seed, so it continues to make flowers.
The simple measure of adjusting mower blades so the grass isn’t cut too short, keeps lawns healthy. The blade of grass is all they have to photosynthesise, if it’s too short they can’t make enough energy. A small plea not to water lawns, they soon recover from drought.
Have you thought of leaving areas of grass to grow into a mini meadow? You can make patterns with long grass, maybe leaving a block in the middle or corner sections. If you have lots of grass, a mown path looks wonderful.
If it doesn’t work for you, you can just cut it down. But remember, it will produce valuable seeds, pollen and be a haven for insect. It also means using the mower less.
In any case, cut it back at the end of September so it can green up before winter.
It seems that most gardens are plagued by one particular pest, mine is slugs. Seeds I seed earlier in the year didn’t seem to be germinating. It dawned on me, after seeing a fringe of carrots seeds appear and then disappear overnight, that slugs were the problem. I’ve gone all out using a number of deterrents.
Beer-traps, successful in the past, as long as the beer is replaced every few days.
Crushed egg-shells around the perimeter of the raised beds, though only one bed so far, as it takes quite a few shells.
Finally slug pellets. I’ve avoided these for years, but have been using ones recently that contain ferric phosphate. They’re certified for use on organic crops and are harmless to pets and wildlife.
I’ve harvested all the garlic and it’s sitting in the greenhouse drying out, ready for plaiting. Kale is planned for this empty space, though the plants are a bit small and I’m waiting for it to beef up a bit before planting it out.
This month you can sow
- Herbs: Parsley, is slow to germinate, best sow some inside then transplant it outside and sow some seeds directly outside, Just to be sure. Plant it 25cm/10in apart, they get quite big. Chervil and coriander, again sow in pots or modules and keep them inside until they germinate and are big enough to be transplanted outside. Hedge your bets, and sow outdoors as well, as time is beginning to run out for growing these plants. They’ll keep going through winter with a cloche or fleece over them.
Keep watering plants in hot dry spells and keep weeding too. These are both nice, mindful tasks, that let you switch off and observe plants close-up.
Feed the birds. They need help to keep going as so many are becoming endangered, even sparrows, so common once upon a time in our gardens. They need water to, to drink and bathe in.
They’re also a big ally for us, keeping pests at bay.
Please don’t be tempted to cut back hedges, the bird nesting season doesn’t finish until the end of August.
There’s a previous post on how to grow biennials here.
Finally, although the lockdown is easing, it’s a challenging time for many. Keep in mind that being outside in nature has a powerfully uplifting effect on us. Enjoy your garden and keep safe and well.
all photos: Jill Anderson