June was hot and dry and seemed to be a month of weeding and watering.
Fortunately July has started with some refreshing rain and cooler weather, hopefully we’ll have a mix of sunshine and showers through the month. If you’re behind on jobs don’t despair, there’s plenty of time and long days to get on top of everything.
WATERING & WEEDING:
It’s best to water early morning or in the evening to reduce the effects of evaporation. Water close to the ground and not on the foliage. Use the rose on seeds and seedlings but the jet if using a hose, and spout if a watering can, for everything else. Mulching around larger plants such as courgette, squash and fruit bushes will help retain water and reduce the frequency of watering.
Try and keep on top of the weeds to reduce competition for water, nutrients and light. Hoe weeds when they are small, and on a dry day they can be left to wither as they won’t re-root.
SOWING & PLANTING:
Keep successional sowing:
Leafy greens such as lettuce, rocket, spinach
Brassicas - cauliflower, sprouts, kale, cabbages
Tomatoes, chillies, peppers
Inter-sow spring onions between lettuce to double up on watering, ie water both at once. If you still have unplanted seedlings, get them in the ground as soon as you can, and if you have surplus please leave them on the sharing table or give to friends.
Continue to harvest strawberries
Pick the last of the broad beans for the year
French beans, runner beans
Beetroot, carrots, spring onions
Onions, shallots and garlic (don't pull them out - rather lift them from underneath)
Summer fruit - raspberries, all currants, gooseberries
Leafy greens - lettuce, rocket, chard, spinach
MANAGE PESTS & DISEASES:
Slugs and snails - look for daytime hidey-holes and think about using nematodes.
Protect strawberries and peas from birds with netting that is wide enough to allow pollinators in.
All brassicas need fine netting to protect them from cabbage white butterflies, and pigeons, which will eat brassicas to ground level. Leeks need protecting from leek moth.
Cover soft fruit plants with netting to protect from birds - this can be done after pollination but before any signs of ripening. Summer fruiting raspberries need netting, but autumn fruiting can be left uncovered.
Watch out for signs of powdery mildew or disease on fruit trees and bushes, and treat with a fungicide.
Tomatoes need regular feeding as well as watering. Pinch out side shoots; any large ones will easily root if pushed into some compost giving some free plants! Stake the plants as they grow, and pinch the tops out when they have 4 or 5 trusses of fruit.
Sweetcorn, broccoli and sprouts may need earthing up for stability, they still have a way to go before harvest time.
Courgettes may need leaves pruning as they have a tendency to get mildew.
Chard is unlikely to bolt, but other leafy veg including lettuce, rocket, spinach and brassicas are prone to bolting in dry, hot wether. Regular watering is essential to avoid this, mulching helps, and these green veg will cope in partial shade.
With the hot weather, compost develops more quickly, so compost all your green matter, add foliage, leaves and annual weeds to your compost pile, turn the pile to help activate it, and make sure it doesn’t dry out. Comfrey and nettles not only make a good nutritious ‘tea’ for plants, they also act as compost accelerant.
Keep watering and feeding your sunflowers for the WAHGA tallest sunflower and largest ‘face’ competition!
And get your plot ‘judge ready’ - don’t forget to enter into the WAHGA annual plot judging completion!
IN THE GARDEN:
The winter was brutal for a number of well-established ‘hardy’ shrubs, if they’re not showing any signs of life yet, dig them up and replace with something different! I’d wait to plant shrubs until the autumn, but herbaceous perennials can be put in now to add instant colour and interest in your borders. Annuals are perfect for pots and planters for colour and ‘kerb’ appeal.
Lawns will benefit from a feed, particularly if you went for ‘No mow May’. In dry spells cut high to avoid creating bare patches.
Feed you pots, planters and hanging baskets on regular basis and keep dead-heading to help prolong the flowering period.
Leave water dishes and for the bees and the birds.
Continue to sow wild flowers - a few in a section on your plot or garden to encourage pollinators. Try planting asters, camomile, marigolds, oregano, sage, sunflowers, thyme, yarrow and zinnias. The entire Compositae or “daisy” family will attract a number of beneficials, including ladybirds.
Try and create small wildflower/wildlife areas throughout the garden and allotment. Sow wildflowers around your shed, stacks of logs at the back of the beds and borders, an area with leaf piles, a pond for newts, toads and frogs, bird boxes and perhaps a bat box.