WELL this certainly has been a month of two halves (excuse the football metaphor, it’s the Euro football final tonight so a I’m a bit pre-occupied), lots of rain but also quite decent temperatures so perfect growing conditions. Our gardens are starting to look lush and at their very best with lots of colour and interest. The roses are looking amazing!
Here’s a few jobs to be getting on with:
- It doesn’t take long for things to dry out so keep your pots, baskets and containers watered; once a day for your containers and pots, and twice a day for hanging baskets. Even when we do have rain your pots don’t get as much water as you think, especially if they are near the house. Don’t forget to feed your bedding plants and baskets every fortnight to ensure they last through the season. Tomato feed or ‘Miracle-Gro’ is ideal for this. You may have to get the hose pipe out to give your borders a good soaking. If you are growing runner beans in pots it is especially important not to let them dry out.
- Cut back the spent flower stems of perennials that have gone over such as lupins, delphiniums and aquilegias if you don’t want them to seed everywhere. Ideal time to trim back oriental poppies, cut them down and they will soon green up again.
- Keep an eye out for weeds and pests, especially caterpillars and aphids and either pick them off or treat them or try out biological control if there aren’t that many of them such as nematodes (for caterpillars) or parasitic wasps (for aphids and whitefly). Watch out for snails and pick them off at night.
- Keep dead heading your plants to ensure continued flowering, e.g. roses, valerian and pelargoniums.
- Fill gaps in your borders with bedding plants. Red geraniums really lift your borders and give a touch of the Mediterranean. White cosmos are still available in the garden centres and give touch of elegance but remember to keep dead heading to ensure you get a constant supply of flowers.
- Divide bearded irises now that they have finished flowering.
- Tidy up trees that have started to send out suckers by cutting them back to the base of the trunk. Also cut back rose suckers and parts of variegated plants such as elaeagnus that may have started to revert, i.e. turn back to green and loose their varigation.
- Keep a look out for blight on your potatoes and tomatoes. There is a forecasting system for blight called a ‘Smith Period’ – this is defined as 2 consecutive days starting at 9am in the morning where temperatures are over 10 degrees C for at least 11 hours and the relative humidity is over 90%, in other words blight will spread when it is warm and wet. You will start to see brown patches on the leaves (potatoes and tomatoes) and tomato stems may develop black patches. Prevention is better than cure, avoid growing potatoes and tomatoes in the same spot, try not to water with sprinklers as spores can develop on wet leaves. Grow resistant varieties and grow early potatoes so you can harvest before blight takes hold. On potatoes it is a good idea to remove the haulm or foliage if blight arrives late in the season so that the tubers do not get infected as blight will spread from the leaves down to the tubers by rain splash. The only sure fire way to keep tomatoes and potatoes free from blight is to spray the leaves with a protectant fungicide before blight appears and then spray regularly to keep it away.
- Give your lawn a summer feed if it didn’t receive a spring treatment and keep it well watered to ensure that it stays green as we haven’t had enough rain this month.
- Top up your ponds and water features now that the weather is warming up as water is being lost to evaporation. Rain water is best if you have water buts as nitrites in mains water can turn ponds green, but needs must.
- Some of your bigger perennials might need a bit of a support now if you haven’t done so already. Bamboo canes, hazel sticks or if you are feeling particularly flush some nice, rusty, metal plant supports will do the trick.
- Keep training and tying in climbers such as Clematis and climbing roses on trellis, pergolas, rose arches and plant supports.
It’s coming home!