Pete’s garden jobs for the month


It’s July – no more worrying about frosts! It’s a busy time for growing and Pete Harcom has your summer garden to-do list for the month

Sowing and planting
Many summer bedding plants can go straight in the ground now. We can also sow biennials (such as foxgloves, sweet William and wallflowers, honesty and forget-me-nots), ready to plant out in autumn for next spring. Simply sow them all into large seed trays in the greenhouse or a dedicated seed bed.
Polyanthus and primulas can also be sown now in a cold frame or greenhouse to ensure warmth for germination (candelabra primulas are particularly spectacular in a shaded position)
If you have already sown annuals then these can be thinned out, when large enough to handle, to ensure they are not overcrowded. Baskets should also be finalised with planting and can now be put up.

Hungry hour
Continue with the feeding of plants, especially ones that are in containers and baskets – use a high potash liquid tomato feed.

Outdoor housekeeping
Deadhead flower borders regularly to prolong flowering. This can apply to many plants – although do try to leave roses that produce attractive hips.
Be sure to cut back delphiniums and geraniums after the first flush of flowers to encourage a second flowering period. Feed them after cutting them back.
Divide clumps of bearded iris.
Tender perennials such as fuchsia are best propagated from cuttings, and July is a great time for this as young plants root more easily.
Dianthus can also be increased this way by taking cuttings from the tender new growth – try to avoid flowering shoots.
Most perennial weeds are best dealt with in the summer, when the weeds are in active growth. Digging out is best – it’s good to avoid using chemical weedkillers.
Mulch on borders can help retain moisture and keep down the weeds – this will save a lot of work. A really thick layer of mulch (2-3in all over) works best.
Watch out for aphids (greenfly and blackfly) and capsid bug damage on stems and leaves of young shoots.

Leave your hedge alone
Finally, as I said last month, avoid pruning your hedges until the end of August at the earliest. The main breeding time for garden birds is between March (and yes, some start even earlier!) and August, so leaving the hedges can give them time to rear their young. Our garden birds need all the help they can get!

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