July means the start of the summer holidays and a new rich colour palette, as dahlias, agapanthus and cosmos come into flower.
You’ll need to deadhead and feed flowering plants, trim straggly specimens from containers and watch out for pests in a wet year. Vegetable gardeners can harvest peas, broad beans and soft fruit too.
It’s high summer and your garden should be full of colour so take time to enjoy it. Tackle pests which like a combination of moist air and heat, feed plants which might be running out of steam and take cuttings to increase your stock.
– July often brings with it an infestation of aphids, especially if it’s wet and warm. Squash those that you see or use a weak detergent spray or biological control such as nematodes to tackle them.
– Build up diversity in the garden by growing a variety of plants that will attract beneficial insects and other wildlife, to create a healthy balance between pests and predators.
Beds and borders
– In wet weather, weed seedlings will appear overnight so hoe regularly or use a weed suppressing mulch such as compost or cocoa shell.
– Continue to stake and tie all your plants as necessary as both annual climbers and wall shrubs grow amazingly fast at this time of year. Cut back old stems and remove supports from plants that have finished flowering.
– Feed flowering plants that need additional nutrients to prolong flowering. Use a general foliar feed or fertiliser.
– Harvest seed from ripe seed heads which will be ready for gathering. Choose a dry day as seed may become mildewed if stored when damp. Store dry, clean seed in small packages in a sealed box in the fridge.
Containers and baskets
– Rejuvenate plants such as pansies and petunias by cutting them right back to the bushier growth at the base, feeding and watering them to encourage growth.
– Make holiday arrangements for plant-maintenance, getting friends or family to water while you’re away. Alternatively, cluster pots in a sheltered, shady place open to the rain and give them a good soak just before leaving.
– Before going on holiday, take down hanging baskets, make a trough in the soil in a cool, shady spot and sit them in it, drenching them thoroughly before you go.
– Water and feed containers regularly to extend their display into autumn. Prune off straggly shoots with shears and give them a quick boost with high potash fertiliser.
Fruit and veg
– Most soft fruit will ripen this month, along with early plums. Pick all ripe fruits, most of which can be frozen.
– Protect bush and cane fruits from birds by throwing nets over bushes, or erecting a fruit cage. You can grow apple and pear cordons inside these.
– Water vegetables regularly or they will bolt and start producing seeds, making the plants almost inedible. Consider installing a leaky-pipe or seep hose laid along the rows or just below the soil, directing the water to where it’s most needed.
– Harvest early potatoes, globe artichokes and onions. Most veg taste better when they are young so don’t leave them too long or they’ll become coarse, woody and tough.
– After harvesting early summer crops like broad beans and shallots, fill the spaces with follow-on crops such as endives or cabbages, or use the space for winter and early spring crops such as sprouting broccoli, spring cabbages and leeks
– Continue to sow short rows of dwarf French beans until the end of the month for a succession of crops and harvest the first of your beans when they are young and tender.
– Watch out for evaporation in ponds and water features and if necessary top up with fresh water, using a spray attachment on the hose to aerate the pool.
– Thin out crowded leaves on waterlilies and remove any excess growth from submerged oxygenating plants. Remove blanketweed by inserting a cane into a pond and winding the weed round it.
– Consider installing a small waterfall or fountain to keep the water moving and oxygen levels high.
– Continue to mow and trim lawn edges once or twice a week. If the weather is dry, raise the mower blades and mow less often as the grass will then retain more moisture and cope with arid conditions better.
– Established lawns may turn brown in very dry conditions but don’t bother watering them because the grass will soon recover when wet weather returns.