In the flower bed
Pinch out the growing tips of dahlias to create bushy plants.
Sow seeds of annual flowers to fill gaps. Mix the seeds into sand or cover seeds with a mix of potting compost and sand so you can easily spot which areas you have sown and don’t enthusiastically hoe or pull up seedlings by mistake. Remember to keep the soil moist until they have germinated and the seedlings have grown into their space.
Watch for outbreaks of mildew that follows dry weather and affects stressed plants. Remove any affected foliage as soon as you spot it before the problem spreads. Mildew looks like soft grey dusty mould.
Order autumn bedding plants from Saga Garden Centre. Choose between winter pansies, wallflowers or a mixture. £8.99 for 55 plants or £12.99 for 165, with free P&P on all orders. Buy now.
Keep pulling weeds. Little and often works best. Five minutes here and there aiming to pull them before they flower and set seed.
Watch out for thugs and bullies that may be swamping better behaved plants and either cut back some foliage or pull out unwanted seedlings allowing light and air to reach all plants.
Divide bearded irises a couple of weeks after they have finished flowering. Lift plants, break off the older parts of the rhizome and keep the firm plump pieces. Trim the leaves to just above the fan as this reduces stress, and replant facing the sun, with the top of the rhizome just visible as they need to soak up the sun.
In the vegetable plot
What to sow
Keep sowing salad leaves and lettuces. If you find them too fiddly try using seed tape – seeds set into paper tape. A very clever way of ensuring you don’t sow too thickly. Plus it ensures straight rows. They are a bit more expensive but satisfying.
Sow spinach and kale. Both are useful crops that are easy to grow and good to eat. Sow F1 varieties for reliable performance. Use thinnings for salads.
Keep cutting cut and come again salad leaves and make sure the soil doesn’t dry out to prevent them bolting.
Care and maintenance
Trim herbs to help the plants keep their shape and grow better. Dry trimmings using the fan only setting (i.e. no heat) in your oven. Or freeze them in small quantities - little plastic snack bags are perfect for this.
Protect the growing tips of beans from slug damage. They don’t recover. Push some new beans into the ground as replacements if needed.
Cut down comfrey and add to the compost bin as it helps the decomposition process. Also make some liquid plant feed by covering a bunch of leaves with water in a bucket, weighted down with a stone or brick, and leave for a couple of weeks until the resulting liquid turns nicely brown and smelly. Dilute with water to use.
Find out more about making and using comfrey tea
Stop cutting asparagus in mid to late June. This allows plants to gather strength in order to give a good crop next year. Help the process by giving the beds a hoe to remove weeds, feed with blood fish and bone and mulch with some organic matter.
Tomatoes – with luck young plants will still be on sale - can be potted on as their roots become visible at the bottom of the pot.
Further tips on final potting here.
Find out more about growing tomatoes here
Word is that strawberries are having a good season with British commercial producers up 30 per cent on the crop. In your own plot watch out for greedy pests who will take advantage. Slugs are one horror but squirrels are capable of gnawing through chicken wire in pursuit of the sweet smelling berries. Look for telltale signs and patch up all holes with squirrel proof wire mesh asap!
Look out for slugs and snails hiding in nooks and crannies. They’ll be out in force after all those tender young shoots coming up this month. Hunts are best done in early morning and evening when cool damp air brings them into the open. Depending on how much of a problem they are in the garden you can try various control methods. Nematodes (microscopic organisms that predate on slugs and snails) are organic and safe with pets and children but require careful application. Nematodes can be ordered online.
Also try the new non-toxic and eco-friendly Slug Defence granules. These make crossing them unpleasant for slugs and snails and offer good protection. They’re made from sepiolite clay, a natural material that is dry and sharp which can be used with edibles. There are also organic pellets available to buy. If, however, you have a really serious problem you may need to resort to old school slug pellets. As these are toxic keep their use to a minimum, just a very few pellets should do the trick.
Find out more about controlling slugs and snails
Pots and containers
Keep deadheading flowers and give weekly feeds of liquid seaweed or similar.
Try to site pots up and out of reach of slugs who will eat the heads of violas in double quick time.
Last chance to….
- Sow green beans.
- Stake dahlias and other plants that are going to grow tall and flop.
Pick some elderflowers to make cordial. Pick young, newly opened heads for greater flavour and pick in dull weather or early morning for freshness. Also avoid picking after rain. Try our elderflower cordial recipe here.
- Cut down spent flowering stems of red hot pokers which makes the plant look better and encourages new stems.
- Cut down spent flowering stems from foxgloves to encourage new shoots.
- Pinch out growing tips of perennials to create bushier plants that won’t split and flop about later in the summer.
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