As with regularly watering, now is the time to make sure all flowering plants are well fed for the season. A dusting of a balanced plant food, such as fish, blood and bone or a diluted liquid feed in the watering can will only do them good.
2. Keep dead-heading and clamping
Dead-head Poppies and evergreen clematis where flowering is ending and do the same with other varieties such as roses and sweet peas. This will encourage continuous flowering throughout the summer. Climbers need to be reined in now such as vines and honeysuckle with soft ties and supports.
3. Prevent scorching in the greenhouse
Greenhouses can get really hot and really cold and during the next few months where there are plants enjoying its shelter, their environment is easily effected and it is imperative to moderate the heat they are exposed to. So close vents on cold nights and open during warm days. Add water to the greenhouse so it gives a good humid atmosphere for the plants to breathe in and help to avoid dry soil.
4. Prepare for drier conditions
As we enter into naturally drier weather we need to think water conservation in order to maintain our garden and lawn requirements. Check installations of containers and tubs and make sure that they are fully collecting run-off. Water in the evening when the sun is going down, this will minimise evaporation. Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants will help retain moisture and therefore require less frequent watering. When possible use second hand water for your plants, for instance when washing fruit and vegetables, collect the water and distribute on baskets, boxes and troughs.
5. Harvest early new potatoes and ripe salad crops
Enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labour! Salad crops can continue to be grown throughout the summer months so once an area is made empty, plant some more!
6. Remove side shoots from tomatoes
Pot up any side-shoots pinched out from tomato plants to create new plants. If you have not decided to grow from seed, garden centre’s and markets are full of tomato plants to purchase now and grow on; set in a sunny spot they will be just as delicious.
7. Keep the foliages fresh
Other than beautiful blooms the early summer produces some of the most interesting and structurally fascinating foliages of the gardening year. From exotic palms to impressive hostas, alas these gems are as vulnerable to insect attack as fragile flowers. Combat slugs that see hostas as a juicy haven by surrounding with copper bands or beakers of beer. Planting delphinium and foxgloves next to fresh foliages will encourage the bugs that feed on the pests that naturally damage them.
8. Protect the developing soft fruits from birds
Soft fruits are fairly vulnerable at the moment, redcurrants, blueberries, gooseberries, raspberries and strawberries need protection from birds and squirrels. Place netting where necessary and for more strawberries next year simply peg down their runners ready to cultivate later. Although nature will thin out most fruit varieties check and remove any fruits that are showing signs of mould or pest damage.
9. Hedgehog preservation
Hedgehogs find garden spaces a sanctuary however in the last 10 years alone their numbers have declined by 25%. A mosaic of interconnected different habitats through our gardens are perfect for them but as we close up small holes in fencing or concrete in gaps, the pathway for them to move freely is hindered. So if possible consider our spiky comrades and give them a break and welcome them to your pond, your wild borders and let them feast on familiar pests such as slugs, snails, beetles and caterpillars.
10. Container-grown citrus plants can be placed outdoors for the summer months
Give indoor citrus trees an airing. Transfer these trees outside to a sunny position to invigorate their growth and keep healthy. If the evening temperature dips to below double figure Celsius levels it is probably a good idea to protect them overnight and bring back indoors. Take pleasure in any fruits that it should provide and make for a Mediterranean style summer!
**** Extract taken from the web diary of Helen Elks-Smith BSC(Hons)Dip GD, Cert. Hort. MSGD award winning garden designer and active member of the Society of Garden Designers, for more information please visit www.elks-smith.co.uk
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