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Jobs in the Garden: July

It’s the first week of July again. June has been an odd old month: We had sleet in the first week, and ended with temperatures in the high 20’s Celsius.

I hope you got some work done in June, I got some, but not as much as I would have liked… But we have had a huge bowl of raspberries, loganberries and strawberries.

So what should we doing in July? Well, here is a start…

  • Dead-head faded flowers. In many cases, it may extend flowering season.
  • Trim privet/evergreen hedges on  6-8 weekly rotation to keep them tidy.
  • Feed plants in active growth.
  • Treat for fungal infections, such as mildew, black spot and rust.
  • Lift the cut on your lawn mower if you’re in an area where you can’t rely on regular rainfall. Short lawns will turn brown in dry weather.
  • If you do cut your grass weekly and keep it very short, remove the grass box and let the clippings mulch the garden for the dry periods .
  • If you have leek seedlings from March sowings, plant them out into deep holes about 1″ wide. Use something like an old wooden fork handle to make the holes. Drop in the seedlings then fill the hole with water (Don’t back fill with soil). As the leek grows it will fill the hole and self-blanch, giving you the white bit at the bottom without having to earth-up.
  • Lift and store tulip and hyacinth bulbs. Store them in a cool, dry place until it’s time to plant again (around October). To be honest, I tend to treat most tulips as annuals, as the flowering gets more erratic and weaker after the 1st year.
  • Sow carrots.
  • Begin to summer-prune cherries, plums and other stoned fruit.
  • Prune Philadelphus (mock orange) and Weigela. Both should have finished flowering. Cut off all the flowered stems, and leave the young stems to flower next year.
  • Remove branches from plum trees that are affected by silver leaf curl.
  • Make free flowers by layering carnations: Cut a little nick in non-flowering stems, pin the nick to the ground and bury them with a little sandy compost. In a few months they should be rooted and ready to separate from their parent plant.
  • Summer prune Wisteria. Choose your main branches, then shorten all the side branches off of these to 3-leaf nodes long.
  • Keep dead heading roses, and give them a little bit of a summer-prune, cutting back branches that are too long or crossing over other branches.
  • Sow spring cabbages. Do not sow all your seed, as a second sowing in mid-August apparently sometimes does better in the long run… I’ll leave it up to you if you want to find out.
  • Lift and store Autumn-sown onions. Lift them gently with a fork, to separate most of the roots, lifting the bulbs clear of the soil. Then leave them to dry for a few days before storing them in a box or similar.
  • Start Summer-pruning trained apples and pears: Shorten the lateral growth of side-branches to 3 or 4 nodes long. as this can be done over a fairly long period, it can be done as the fruit is harvested as well, as it’s also time for apples and pears to start reaching ripeness.
  • Plant Madonna lily bulbs. Nice and shallow -2″ deep, no more. They will flower late summer/early autumn, and should be lifted once they have flowered before the cold weather damages the bulbs.
  • Start planting Autumn flowering crocus and Colchicum.
  • Cut back Helianthemum (Sun roses): Cut back every year at this time, it keeps them tidy and prevents them getting too leggy.
  • Sow parsley for Autumn and Winter use.

Just remember, here in Yorkshire we are a little behind warmer climes further south, so we have a little more time to collect our thoughts.

Enjoy your garden folks!

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Jobs in the Garden: June

In 2 days it will be June. Yet still, yesterday, to prove the old adage about waiting till the end of May, we had a hail storm. Got to love the English weather.

In fact, May has, on the whole, been a very disappointing month weather-wise: 2 or 3 days in every alternate week has rained and sleeted, usually horizontally -carried in bitingly cold winds!

But here we are, the end of May, the start of June, and we need to know what we should be getting on with…

  • Evergreen hedges and shrubs can be clipped from now until the end of August. As most are now replacing their leaves, it is a good point to cut them back as they will re-green if the plants are cut back too far. This is true for most plants, but not Leylandeii…
  • Plant out winter greens, as many varieties as you want to try. They will keep you in fresh veg all winter if you have the space. And many are actually quite ornamental; don’t be afraid of having a row of structural broccoli in a flower bed.
  • Autumn-sown onions (and garlic to a lesser extent) are ready to start harvesting, but don’t lift all at once, just lift those you want to use and use them fresh. And as the whole thing is fresh, you can use the stalk as well as the bulb: Think big Spring Onion.
  • Stake culinary peas -they will need support as the pods ripen.
  • Feed your tomatoes  as they grow.
  • Plant out tender bedding -we are well clear of the frosts, theoretically.
  • Start perennials and biennials from seed now if you want Spring flowering from them for next year.
  • Thin out veg seedlings
  • Plant outdoor tomatoes, marrows, courgettes and the likes.
  • Plant out runner beans, French beans and any other climbing bean you may have tried to grow.
  • Lift First Early potatoes. Once they have flowered, lift a plant or 2 and check to see how the tubers have developed; f they are small, leave the rest another few weeks to carry on growing.
  • Sow more carrots for successional harvesting.
  • Start to thin apples and pears: 1 fruit per spur is an ideal; more than that and you end up with small, misshapen or poor quality fruit.
  • Prune summer flowering shrubs, after they have flowered. Cut back 1/3 of the old wood from the centre, then cut back everything else to give the shape and size you want.
  • Divide mossy saxifrage plants. Especially if they are going brown in the middles. Just cut them apart and place them down on loose, damp soil. Keep them watered, and they will bed in quite quickly.
  • Lift and divide June-flowering Flag Irises. It doesn’t need to be done every year, but those clumps which are over crowded will benefit. Get rid of rhizome from the centre of clumps with no growth, but replant the rest.

I’m hoping for June to be a proper Blazing one… Like the old month count… You know? Blazing June? Well, maybe it’ll be dry at least? (Although the weather forecast isn’t promising…)

Jobs for May

Almost a year without a post.

Well, since August 2014 at least.

But here we are, the May Bank Holiday weekend, and I will try to start again.

We’ve just had the Tour de Yorkshire, and the poor weather that seems to arrive with such events when held early in the season. Hopefully, it will improve steadily from here!

So, as this is about advice, what are the standing orders for May?

As the weather permits:

  • Keep planting out hardy perennials.
  • Start moving out your Hot house plants; that’s to say tropical plants. Cover them at night, and bring them back in if there is any chance of a frost.
  • Prick out and thin Winter Green seedlings.
  • Sow sweet corn. Sow close together, in rows, in a warm, sheltered situation. Make sure if you live in The North, you choose a variety suitable -one with a short growing season.
  • Try growing Chicory. It can be a little bitter, but it’s usable cooked and raw, so lends itself for stir fry.
  • Plant tomatoes in an unheated greenhouse.

“Dust strawberries with sulphur…” and “spray pears with Bordeaux mix…” if they had any diseases last year is the standing instruction from Mr. Hellyer and 1936: Of the many chemicals now available, in many ways, you will probably cause less damage to the environment using 70-year old advice than 21st century chemicals. Studies on bee colony collapse suggests systemic fungicides make the colonies more prone to collapse.

  • Clear beds for summer displays.
  • Tidy daffodil leaves by tying them with elastic bands. Don’t remove them until the leaves have gone yellow.
  • If you are growing Sweet peas as a cordon (straight up), you will need to pinch off side shoots.
  • Sow runner beans out doors. Put in your canes or sticks, build a tepee or whatever type of frame you want to use, then plant 2 beans at the base of each pole.
  • Plant out celeriac if you started any in March.
  • Early, green Gooseberries may be ready to pick. These will only be cooking berries, but it gives you an early picking.
  • Plant out bedding and half-hardy annuals.
  • Plant up window boxes and hanging baskets.
  • Sow marrows outdoors.
  • Plant out French beans that have been hardened off.
  • Thin out raspberry canes; cut off the canes that are growing in paths, or out of the line of the supports.

There are a lot of plants you can be starting under glass now: The squash family, tomatoes, courgettes and green beans to name but a few. Start them in a greenhouse, a cold frame, or a cold window sill (they don’t want to get too warm or they will grow too fast).

That covers us for May. There is plenty of work, we just need a bit more good weather.

Jobs in the Garden: August Week 1

Hello!

Well, it’s almost-kind-of-if-you-look-at-it-sideways-and-squint still the first week of August.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So generally this month:

  • Take geranium (pelargonium) cuttings. Pick non-flowering stems, cut about 4-5″ and plant 4 or 5 around the edge of a 5″ flowerpot of compost. Keep the compost damp.
  • Keep dead heading your flowers.
  • Complete the trimming of evergreen hedges, topiary and the likes.
  • You can take cutting of shrubs. Hydrangea grow easily from cutting, treat them like geranium above, but 1 cutting in a 2-3″ pot.
  • 2nd early potato varieties should be ready. Lift them as you want to use them rather than digging them all and having to store them.
  • Feed tomatoes, keep them trained. Outdoor plants should have the growing tip pinched out once 4 trusses have produced flower. This stops makes the plant put their effort into fruit rather than growth.
  • Pick ripe apples and pears. Summer prune as you pick.

And week 1 work??

  • You can plant freesias for Christmas flowering. Plant 10 corms in a 6″ pot of sandy compost.
  • Spring planted Onion sets can be ripened off, by bending over the leaves just above the neck of each bulb.
  • If you have a heated greenhouse (with lights) (or a warm conservatory) you can start tomatoes and cucumbers now to produce fruit over the winter period. Be prepared to keep the temperature between 18-24 Celsius.

While I’m here, I may as well do week 2 as well:

  • Start cyclamen from corms.
  • Sow Spring and Pickling (red) Cabbages. Sow where you want them to grow.
  • Lift early beetroot. Harvest before they get too large. Ideally, they should be no bigger than a tennis ball or they lose flavour and start to get woody. Twist off the greens carefully to avoid breaking the skin, which can cause bleeding and spoil the colour and flavour of the crop on storage. Store them in a cool shed/cellar/room, ideally in  damp sand.
  • Prune summer fruiting raspberries. Canes that have flowered should be cut back to ground level.

Well, there we have it. The weather is with us for a little longer, so make the most if it and enjoy your gardens!

It’s still July. Just. It’s a whole 3 days until August!

And I did get the first 2 weeks done 2-weeks ago.

I have countless excuses why this is late, as usual. But I wont bore you with any of them. I’ll just get to the point f it all shall I?

So, here we go…

  • Make free flowers by layering carnations: Cut a little nick in non-flowering stems, pin the nick to the ground and bury them with a little sandy compost. In a few months they should be rooted and ready to separate from their parent plant.
  • Summer prune Wisteria. Choose your main branches, then shorten all the side branches off of these to 3-leaf nodes long.
  • Keep dead heading roses, and give them a little bit of a summer-prune, cutting back branches that are too long or crossing over other branches.
  • Sow spring cabbages. Do not sow all your seed, as a second sowing in mid-August apparently sometimes does better in the long run… I’ll leave it up to you if you want to find out.
  • Lift and store Autumn-sown onions. Lift them gently with a fork, to separate most of the roots, lifting the bulbs clear of the soil. Then leave them to dry for a few days before storing them in a box or similar.
  • Start Summer-pruning trained apples and pears: Shorten the lateral growth of side-branches to 3 or 4 nodes long. as this can be done over a fairly long period, it can be done as the fruit is harvested as well, as it’s also time for apples and pears to start reaching ripeness.

That was for last week.. week 3. For week 4?

  • Plant Madonna lily bulbs. Nice and shallow -2″ deep, no more. They will flower late summer/early autumn, and should be lifted once they have flowered before the cold weather damages the bulbs.
  • Start planting Autumn flowering crocus and Colchicum.
  • Cut back Helianthemum (Sun roses): Cut back every year at this time, it keeps them tidy and prevents them getting too leggy.
  • Sow parsley for Autumn and Winter use.

So that’s July over folks. I hope this is useful for you, or interesting, or maybe just a distraction? Enjoy your gardens.

I’m not going to say time flies when you’re having fun, but it rockets by when you’re busy.

I was going to achieve so much the last few weeks. And I have, just not necessarily what I was planning to…

But here we are, end of the first week of July: So I guess I need to run down those jobs that need to be done.

From June:

  • Divide mossy saxifrage plants. Especially if they are going brown in the middles. Just cut them apart and place them down on loose, damp soil. Keep them watered, and they will bed in quite quickly.
  • Lift and divide June-flowering Flag Irises. It doesn’t need to be done every year, but those clumps which are over crowded will benefit. Get rid of rhizome from the centre of clumps with no growth, but replant the rest.

Now we get to July:

  • Dead-head faded flowers. In many cases, it may extend flowering season.
  • Trim privet/evergreen hedges on  6-8 weekly rotation to keep them tidy.
  • Feed plants in active growth.
  • Treat for fungal infections, such as mildew, black spot and rust.
  • Lift the cut on your lawn mower if you’re in an area where you can’t rely on regular rainfall. Short lawns will turn brown in dry weather.

As an aside, I watched some of the Tour de France today on TV, as it started in Leeds. The commentator made reference that he couldn’t believe how good the weather was after how bad it was yesterday: I’ve seen it those extreme changes happen in a day, so overnight is not that hard to believe. Here in Yorkshire we are blessed with a healthy mix of wet and sun, commonly both at the same time!

  • If you do cut your grass weekly and keep it very short, remove the grass box and let the clippings mulch the garden for the dry periods .
  • If you have leek seedlings from March sowings, plant them out into deep holes about 1″ wide. Use something like an old wooden fork handle to make the holes. Drop in the seedlings then fill the hole with water (Don’t back fill with soil). As the leek grows it will fill the hole and self-blanch, giving you the white bit at the bottom without having to earth-up.
  • Lift and store tulip and hyacinth bulbs. Store them in a cool, dry place until it’s time to plant again (around October). To be honest, I tend to treat most tulips as annuals, as the flowering gets more erratic and weaker after the 1st year.
  • Sow carrots.
  • Begin to summer-prune cherries, plums and other stoned fruit.
  • Prune Philadelphus (mock orange) and Weigela. Both should have finished flowering. Cut off all the flowered stems, and leave the young stems to flower next year.
  • Remove branches from plum trees that are affected by silver leaf curl.

Now, I think that brings us up to date and a week in front… Ready for me to be 2 weeks behind again… I love summer, I just wish I didn’t have to sleep; or I could save my sleep for winter when I have less work? To paraphrase Elvis, “Viva Las Garden-as!!”

Enjoy your garden folks!

Golly time flies!

There have been many things in the last few weeks I have wanted to blog; weather shifts; interesting plants I’ve recently seen; fantastic atmospheric effects; my good luck in gaining another free garden building…

But they have been and gone (except the summer-house, which is now in my front garden), and so has the half f June.

So here we go, what jobs are there to be getting on with?

  • Evergreen hedges and shrubs can be clipped from now until the end of August. As most are now replacing their leaves, it is a good point to cut them back as they will re-green if the plants are cut back too far. This is true for most plants, but not Leylandeii…
  • Plant out winter greens, as many varieties as you want to try. They will keep you in fresh veg all winter if you have the space. And many are actually quite ornamental; don’t be afraid of having a row of structural broccoli in a flower bed.
  • Autumn-sown onions (and garlic to a lesser extent) are ready to start harvesting, but don’t lift all at once, just lift those you want to use and use them fresh. And as the whole thing is fresh, you can use the stalk as well as the bulb: Think big Spring Onion.
  • Stake culinary peas -they will need support as the pods ripen.
  • Feed your tomatoes  as they grow.
  • Plant out tender bedding -we are well clear of the frosts, theoretically.
  • Start perennials and biennials from seed now if you want Spring flowering from them for next year.
  • Thin out veg seedlings
  • Plant outdoor tomatoes, marrows, courgettes and the likes.
  • Plant out runner beans, French beans and any other climbing bean you may have tried to grow.
  • Lift First Early potatoes. Once they have flowered, lift a plant or 2 and check to see how the tubers have developed; f they are small, leave the rest another few weeks to carry on growing.
  • Sow more carrots for successional harvesting.
  • Start to thin apples and pears: 1 fruit per spur is an ideal; more than that and you end up with small, misshapen or poor quality fruit.
  • Prune summer flowering shrubs, after they have flowered. Cut back 1/3 of the old wood from the centre, then cut back everything else to give the shape and size you want.

This gives you the first 3-weeks June to be getting on with… It might be enough, I would hope it is; after all, you still need time to enjoy your garden!

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