Jobs For July

Here's a few ideas of what you could be doing this month...

Top Tip - Save the roses

Keep roses flowering for longer by removing blooms as they fade – grab a pair of sharp secateurs to cut back spent flowers to a pair of outward facing buds. Leave the flowers on wild roses to ensure a great display of hips in the autumn.

Beds and borders

• Beds and borders can look a little tired by mid-summer, so inject some colour by planting up the gaps with late flowering plants, such as anemone, crocosmia, rudbeckia, aster, coreopsis and canna lilies. Alternatively, use some cheap and cheerful bedding plants.
• Plant some late flowering bulbs. Sternbergia lutea has dazzling yellow flowers, while Crocus speciosus is white with delicate blue veins. For something really showy, try Colchicum ‘Water Lily’, which has blousy, double pink blooms that appear just above ground level.
• Ensure a late display of dahlias doesn’t come to a premature halt by tying in shoots to supporting canes.
• Lock in moisture and prevent weeds from germinating by spreading a 7.5cm layer of bark mulch over borders.
• Rejuvenate your borders by removing tatty foliage from early flowering perennials. Alchemilla mollis, peonies and some hardy geraniums will respond with a flush of fresh leaves that will look good for the rest of the summer.
• Boost asters and other late-flowering perennials by scattering a general fertiliser over the soil and working into the ground gently with a rake.

In the kitchen garden

• Trim herbs to ensure a regular supply of tasty leaves. Completely remove flowering shoots from parsley, sorrel, marjoram and sage, and pinch back shoots of thyme and rosemary to encourage more branches to grow.
• Hungry caterpillars will ruin many leafy vegetables, so check and dispose of any pests you find. Also look under leaves for any cleverly concealed eggs.
• Prune summer fruiting strawberries. After the last fruit have been picked, gather the leaves together and cut them back, 7.5cm above the crown. New foliage will soon grow and encourage the development of next year’s flower buds.
• Mound up soil around the base of sweetcorn to cover exposed roots and improve anchorage.
• Squash the conical yellow eggs of the cabbage white butterfly before they have a chance to turn into leaf eating caterpillars.
• For masses of runner beans, pinch out the tips of plant when they reach the tops of supports. This will encourage lots of flower carrying side-shoots to grow further down the plant.
• Eating apple trees will naturally shed some developing fruit in early summer, but may need further thinning to ensure large fruit and a healthy crop. Remove any damaged or misshapen fruit, leaving one every 15cm.
• Water potatoes regularly, especially those in pots, to prevent the foliage wilting in dry weather.
• Reduce the chance of fungal diseases ruining grapes by thinning out bunches as the fruit develops. Removing every third grape gives them more space to grow.

Don't forget...

• Prune fast-growing conifer hedges to keep them within bounds. Start by cutting the top flat and then trim the sides, making the top narrower than the base.
• During hot weather the water level in ponds will drop. Top it up once a week with rainwater from a butt, or if this isn’t available, water from the mains. If you keep fish, use cold mains water little and often to prevent a shock to livestock.
• If your lawn is infested with clover, now is a good time to control it by spraying with herbicide.
• Strip stems of bamboo. The showy canes are often hidden under lots of leafy foliage, so either snap off side branches or remove with secateurs to expose the bottom third of canes. At the same time thin out congested clumps by cutting dead, and some of the weaker shoots, to ground level.
• Tidy up wisterias by tying in any sideshoots you want to keep for filling gaps on walls or trellis, then prune remaining shoots, leaving four leaves.

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