Although the weather is a little changeable at the moment, there will be plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy the garden, even though we know there are jobs still to be done to keep it looking good.
Even though ladybirds are an attractive sight in any garden they are also a great help to gardeners because they are a natural predator of aphids such as greenfly, blackfly and whitefly. So here's a simple tip to help your plants to survive and thrive - when you see a ladybird in the garden, pick it up and place it in your greenhouse or on your roses, fruit trees or anything you're worried about. It will make itself at home in no time and hungrily devour the pests. And don't forget that you can attract more ladybirds with a Ladybird Tower or a Bug Box.
If you would like a fine finish to your lawn then cut more than once a week. Any weeds should be removed and, if required, the holes filled with a gritty compost followed by a small amount of grass seed being raked in. When the weather is dry and hot, ideally the grass should be kept slightly longer by setting the blades a little higher.
After being away on holiday you will want to cut the grass but to avoid any stress to the lawn it is best to do this gradually. We would suggest only removing 13mm (½") of growth to start with, giving another light cut a week or so later, followed by cutting to the recommended height.
Prepare sites for new lawns, as towards the end of the month and into early September is an ideal time for sowing. The area should be level, free from large stones and weeds. It is very important to remove perennial weeds as these will be difficult to control until the lawn is established. Where perennial weeds are growing on the site, spray with a weedkiller containing Glyphosate some weeks before commencing soil cultivations. This will allow any re-growth to be treated for a second time.
As many varieties of peas and beans come to fruition, the challenge for gardeners is to replace them with some more productive plants so consider onion sets or garlic? Sowings of Japanese bulb onion Senshyu Semi-Globe Yellow can be made outdoors from mid to late August for harvesting in July. Sowings can also be made of spring cabbage, chinese cabbage, corn salad, winter lettuce and radish.
As you lift your potatoes, why not replace them with Late Season potatoes which will give you a second crop in October. Maincrop potatoes can be lifted as required for immediate use and where they are to be stored, harvest in September or early October. The spread of potato blight can occur if conditions are hot and humid, therefore, to prevent attack it may be worth considering using a fungicide spray. Potato yields can also benefit by being given extra water.
The tips of any climbing shoots of runner beans should be pinched out should they reach the top of the supports. Small, tender courgettes can be regularly picked by using a sharp knife and carefully cutting them off at the base, protecting sensitive hands from the prickly leaves and stalks by wearing gloves. Any crops that are in flower, have fruit or pods on them must be watered well. The side-shoots on tomatoes should be pinched out regularly and the leading shoots tied to the supports. A high potash tomato fertiliser feed should be applied weekly and don't let the plants go short of water. The tips of cucumber side shoots should be pinched out just two leaves beyond any fruit that may be developing. If any old fruit is left on the plants this will affect further flowering so remember to pick cucumbers on a regular basis.
Dahlias especially will be growing well, and for the plants to produce a greater number of flowers, the first bloom should be cut with a very short stem and avoid cutting into the flower buds below. If larger flowers are required - remove the flower bud shoots (this is disbudding) below the main leading flower bud, which will strengthen the stem, and make the flower size noticeably larger. By pinching out shoot tips on chrysanthemums in early July this will encourage shoots to branch out and carry more blooms.
Thoroughly water at least once a day making sure the compost doesn't dry out completely. As compost can become bone dry in smaller terracotta pots than larger plastic pots any water will run straight off. It is, therefore, ideal to place pots, baskets, containers in a bowl, bath or even water butt leaving them in soak thoroughly for a short while. Also, just because it may rain, the compost could still remain dry due to foliage not allowing the water through.
Some hardy annuals such as calendula, eschscholzia and myosotis can be sown direct in their flowering positions obtain early flowers next spring/summer. Seeds of perennial plants that can be sown now include cheiranthus (siberian wallflower), cyclamen hederifolium and potentilla. For colourful pot plants in the home, plants of cactus, cineraria, cyclamen, coleus and schizanthus can be raised from seed sown this month. Wild Flowers are becoming popular and sowings of cowslips and primroses should be made in trays, placing in a cold frame. Feverfew and field cornflower can be sown where they are required to flower. Now is a good time for cutting plants such as achillea, grasses and other everlasting subjects as they are at their peak. They should be hung upside down in an airy, warm place so that they can dry naturally ready for using in arrangements. Use bamboo canes to support stems of tall perennials and lilies.
Deadheading of roses should be done regularly, and flowers trimmed just above the top leaf on the stem. Stem cuttings can also be taken for propagating.
It may seem a long way off, but now is the perfect time to start planning the displays of bulbs that will fill your garden with colour next spring. Take a look at our comprehensive range of great value bulbs and perennials online, and get your order in now. We've got all your favourite varieties of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and loads more. Go on - make sure next spring is your brightest ever!
General & Pond Care
Cuttings of fuchsias and tender perennials can still be taken which will quickly root at this time of year. The resulting young plants will be sturdy and over-winter successfully on a windowsill. Cuttings can be taken now of houseplants such as coleus.
If plants being grown in patio pots are not doing as well as expected, this could be caused by either ants nesting in them or vine weevil. Preventative action should be taken and in the case of ants the pots could be stood, above the water level in large saucers of water, and in the case of vine weevil treat the compost with a biological pest control.
Going away on holiday and there's no one to water your plants in the greenhouse or conservatory, then it may be worth considering one of the many watering devices available while away such as Watering Mats, Micro-drip Watering System & Timer Set, Watering Spike, Adjustable Drip Feeder. In the case of containers and hanging baskets it is well worth moving them to a situation where they are shaded and out of full sunshine.
To prevent plants that are in a greenhouse becoming scorched, which can occur if the leaves are wet, on hot days either place netting or use a shade paint on the outside of the glass. In this instance, please remember to water plants carefully, it is always advisable on hot days to damp down the floor of the greenhouse as this will increase humidity.
This is an ideal time to clean out any empty water-butts so that any dirt that may be trapped at the bottom is removed.
Use a net to remove any dead flowers or leaves. Overgrown pond plants can be thinned, and it may prove useful to take note of any waterlilies which will require dividing next spring. Feed fish regularly, taking care not to over-feed, with a varied diet to build them up. Any food remaining in the pond after ten minutes should be removed. To help aerate the water and keep fish healthy top up water levels. Oxygen can be increased by letting water gently fall into the pond from a hose at a height approximately 1m (3'). It may prove necessary to increase the amount of oxygen to fish and plants during thundery weather in which case leaving the fountain running overnight will prove helpful. If you haven't a fountain then a gentle spray using a hose over the surface from time to time will prove beneficial.