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July garden jobs

Tiffany Daneff / 12 July 2017

Find out what needs doing in the July flower bed, vegetable patch and lawn.

Deadhead dahlias to encourage continuous flowering throughout summer

In the flower beds

Pull up poppies and other high seeding annuals (eg forget-me-nots) to prevent flower beds being overwhelmed with seedlings next year. You might want to leave a few plants standing to allow seed heads to dry and some seeds to fall or instead harvest the seeds and store them in brown paper bags. Remember to label the bags or, like me, you’ll end up in a muddle.

Cut hardy geraniums and plants like catmint back once they have finished flowering and are beginning to look rather sorry for themselves. Water well and they’ll soon put on fresh leaf and possibly flower again.

Deadhead dahlias. This is vital. If you don’t they’ll set seed and refuse to continue flowering – which they would otherwise - well into autumn and until the first frosts.

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Garlic harvest and tomato side shoot
Garlic harvest and tomato side shoot.

In the vegetable plot

Weed between rows, especially if it’s dry so as to stop the weedlings stealing all the moisture.

Watch out of signs of powdery mildew on courgettes and squashes and remove infected leaves – binning or burning but do not add to the compost.

Keep sowing salads, carrots and beets remembering that if it's very hot you’ll need to plant lettuces and beets in cooler spots. Sow seeds of varieties bred not to bolt and water well.

Keep watering beans and pick pods before they get too big. If slugs have got to them there’s time to sow some fast growing beans now. Or sow some dwarf beans which will mature by autumn. Capitalise on rain by mulching around the base of your beans.

Pinch out the side shoots of tomatoes. These are the small leaves that form at the base of the main leaves where they meet the main stem. Feed regularly every 10 to 14 days and make sure they do not dry out or developing fruits will split. See more on tomato growing.

Harvest early potatoes and garlic. Wait for garlic leaves to turn yellow but lift before all the foliage dries out. Second early potatoes will be ready to lift around now once the flowers have opened or the buds dropped.

Water well. Fruit in containers in particular will need a thoroughly good soaking when the surface of the soil feels dry. Water until water drains out from the bottom. Don’t water again until the surface has dried out. In dry weather water every fortnight or sooner if the soil is dry a good spade’s depth down.

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Check soft fruits. Producing fruits makes plants thirsty, currants particularly so. Water at the roots so as to avoid encouraging damp related diseases. Strawberries are prone to these so don’t wet their leaves and avoid overwatering which can also cause trouble such as botrytis.

Mulch around fruit trees and bushes to conserve moisture. Apply a two inch layer of mulch after its rained when the ground is damp, making sure not to let the mulch touch the trunks or stems. Make sure the ground is first clear of grass and weeds.

If you train your apple and pear trees they will be needing a summer prune. This should be done when the bottom third of the new shoots have toughened up and become woody. Depending on where you live this could be any time from now until early August. The idea is to prune to let light reach the fruit.

First: prune new shoots that are growing from the main stem (but only those longer than 8ins) to about five leaves from the base
Second: prune new shoots growing from side shoots to one leaf from the base (not cutting off any fruit!)
Third: prune out vigorous vertically growing shoots

If more shoots grow cut these out in September.

Lawns and general areas

Take the strimmer or mower to cut down tall grasses. Keep grasses clear around fruit cages to prevent seeds blowing in or grasses spreading.

A neat way to save time on mowing was recently suggested by the garden designer Dan Pearson. Rather than mowing whole areas why not mow or strim a path through. This will allow wild flowers to grow on either side, which will bring in butterflies and bees. In dry weather mow less and raise the blades higher. Once rains come yellowed lawns will soon recover.

Compost bins might need some water added if they are bone dry. The composting process needs warmth, certainly, but the microorganisms and worms that break down the organic matter also require air and moisture. If the heap is showing no signs of life try mixing in some of the lower, already rotted material, into the upper layers. Or you can add in some garden soil and/or wet kitchen peelings. You can also use a watering can with a rose attached to damp things down a little.

Last chance to…

Sow French beans

Editor’s tip

I’ve long been a fan of cordless garden equipment and recently tried out the new Multi tool from Ego, a brand that specializes in lithium battery powered tools. The Multi is a gardening kit in one. One power head with five different attachments that you can switch from job to job. 

There’s a strimmer, brushcutter, hedgetrimmer, lawn edger and polesaw. All are powered by the 56v battery which really does take cordless to a new level needing less than 25 minutes to charge and running for longer while also delivering the power to cut through wood, brush and high grass. It’s not too heavy either so large man not required! We like it so much that we’re offering readers of the August issue of Saga Magazine the chance to win one. Look out for competition details! Find out more at

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.