Feeling hot, hot, hot!

August 6, 2011

Or perhaps that should be wet, wet, wet!  Unfortunately it’s impossible to know what the weather will be like from one day to the next.  Hopefully my gardening tips will at least help you plan for when the sun does shine!

In the flower garden

There’s a fair amount of important work needed here, so I’ll try to keep it short and simple!
  • Don’t forget to cut back, feed and water your flowering perennials for a second flush of flowers and foliage
  • The more you pick sweet peas the more they will flower!
  • Deadhead geraniums and other bedding plants so they don't waste energy setting seed, and to keep the plants looking tidy
  • Don’t let the compost completely dry out in your hanging baskets or pots because it can be very difficult to re-wet
  • Prune wisteria by shortening all the long wispy side-shoots to about 20cm
  • Take cuttings of your clematis or peg down new shoots for them to root into the soil
  • Use a hydrangea colourant when watering for a true blue colour next summer.  Read more here:  www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/colorchange.html
  • Now is the time to plant up autumn crocuses and other autumn flowering bulbs such as nerines and sternbergia

Caring for cut flowers

Follow these simple tips to keep your cut flowers looking better for longer:
  • Before you put them in the vase
    • Keep your cut flowers cool until you can put them in water
    • Make a fresh cut, under water, an inch or two up from the bottom of the stem
    • Make sure both the vase and your cutting tools are clean
    • Remove any leaves that will sit below the water line
  • Keep them blooming
    • Keep your cut flowers out of direct sunlight and drafts
    • Change the water every other day
    • Make a fresh cut of the stem each time you change the water

Harvesting your herbs

Pick your leaves early to encourage growth as once they turn to seed they will be no use to you.  And where you have more than you can use fresh, just freeze them into little ice cubes.  Just place the cut herb into the tray, fill with water and freeze as normal.  Simple and ready for use whenever you need them!

Fruit and vegetables

Whether at home or at the allotment, there’s always plenty to keep you busy!  Don’t be put off if you feel you haven’t got enough space to grow your own fruit and veg in the garden, just use containers.  In fact this can even be advantageous in terms of positioning, controlling soil texture and pests.
  • Soft fruits are best watered with rainwater, plus it will save you money.  Make sure your waterbutt is connected and capturing as much rainwater as possible
  • Complete your summer pruning of gooseberries and red and white currants
  • Make sure fruit isn’t ‘drought stressed’ in the fine weather, especially those in containers, against a wall or newly planted
  • Give regular liquid feeds to plants growing in containers
  • Protect any heavily-laden fruit trees and bushes against snapping, by using a stake to prop them upright
  • Pull off any suckers appearing around the base of fruit trees

Trees and hedges

We sometimes forget trees and hedges and leave them to their own devices.  However, your trees will really appreciate a good feed; use a mix of blood, fish and bone meal.  And its time to cut back hard those overgrown hedges and reshape as necessary; take out all the dead wood down to ground level, then feed and water to encourage new healthy growth. It’s a good idea to prune ornamental cherries while the weather is hot and dry to reduce the risk of silver leaf disease.  And remember to water all newly planted trees and shrubs throughout the summer.  Don’t be fooled into thinking the odd rainstorm will be sufficient!

River Cottage

I always find their website such a joy to read; its full of information on cookery courses, seasonal recipes, campaigns such as Hugh's Fish Fight, which you might have seen on TV, and even Apps would you believe! Two new campaigns include 'Three Hungry Boys' with their great campervan and 'Energyshare' renewable energy projects.  Take a look for yourself at: www.rivercottage.net/campaigns/ Landshare is another of their projects and was launched in 2009.  It is specifically aimed at those who wish to share land for growing fruit and vegetables.  For details visit: www.landshare.net/about/. It'll be cooler next week so more comfortable to work in the garden of an evening-if you're working in the heat and sunshine do remember to cover up and drink plenty. Meanwhile as always send any questions. Best wishes to you all, Helen

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