Thursday, 19 July 2012

Top 20 Tasks for the Garden in July


RHS Rose Gloves by Town & Country

Despite the weather, there are plenty of tasks to be done this month. The rainy weather is an ideal time to be budding roses to propagate, whilst the sap is running freely. Don’t forget to wear rose protective gloves which are thorn resistant from Town & Country.

1. When shallot stalks have turned yellow no further growth develops. Scrape soil from around the bulbs and bend tops over to assist ripening. When this has taken place, ease them out with a fork. Dry well for two days by hanging them in the sun or if the rain doesn’t stop, spread them on a shelf in a dry, airy shed.

2. A warm March combined with a cool April has now resulted in early bumper crops of sweet strawberries, full of flavour. With all this rain, you may want to protect your strawberries by moving them under cover. This month is a good time to layer your strawberries. Choose the best runners and using the first plantlet only on each runner, cut off beyond this and peg it down close to the joint or node. Layer into pots of sand to facilitate moving when rooted. When the runner plant is well rooted, usually after around 3 weeks, sever the running stalk.

3. Slugs love this wet weather and can cause damage to plants. Sprinkle lime soot around seedlings, frequently renewing.

4. Sow hollyhock, snapdragon, foxglove, gaillardia and anchus on borders.

5. Summer prune apples and pear trees.

6. Prune raspberries. All old canes which fruited should be cut down near to the ground level and burned, leaving only strong canes of this year’s growth.

7. If you’re going on holiday, place ferns, palms and other pot plants if well rooted in a large container in which the water reaches half way up the pots. Place the container in a shady spot. House plants will be better outside where they will be exposed to rainfall.

8. Clip all hedges and evergreen shrubs and trees.

9. Cut off all dead or dying flowers and untidy shoots from bedding plants.

10. Mow the lawn thoroughly.

11. Hoe the soil well in beds and borders.

12. If you planted potatoes in March, these will be ready to harvest.

13. Its also the time this month to order second cropping potatoes to be planted in August for harvesting in December.

14. Plant out leek seedlings in July.

15. Enjoy a selection of herbs in your salads and harvest garlic bulbs. Dry herbs or freeze in ice cubes to drop in soups.

16. Check your seed packets to see what else is left to sow. You can continue sowing lettuce 2 weeks apart throughout July.

17. Sow winter salad crops and pak choi.

18. Sow freesia seed thinly for flowering in spring.

19. Sow turnip seed to provide roots in autumn.

20. Carry out the main sowing of spring cabbages, radishes and parsley this month.

-- Rob Amey

Monday, 16 July 2012

What’s orange and boring and lives at the bottom of the garden…?

Answer...a garden shed! When we moved house four years ago I needed one to store my tools and do a bit of potting while I transformed the wilderness that accompanied our new home. I built the shed equivalent of Dale Winton. Why do all commercially bought sheds look as if they’ve been ‘tangoed’?

My previous shed had been tucked away under a huge lilac tree. Fragrant roses and honeysuckle scrambled over it and mature shrubs almost hid it from view. It was my little sanctuary, a den to which I could flee and where, while transplanting seedlings and potting up bulbs, I could forget the stresses of the day. My new shed was the only vertical feature on an otherwise bleak landscape of stony soil. I couldn’t live with it but how could I disguise it? Shrubs would take a few years to establish, as would climbing roses. In the meantime it leered ‘orangely’ at me and looked...hideous.

I applied logic and a large gin and tonic to the problem. If I had already had mature shrubs I could simply have painted it black or very dark green so it would have blended with the shadows. No such luck. There was nothing for it, I’d have to make a feature of it. I hit the garden centre to check out colours. I was amazed. Timber preservative manufacturers now produce a vast range of beautiful tints. I could have painted my shed almost any shade I chose.



I toyed with a jolly red and white striped beach hut idea for a while, then spotted a jaunty yellow which I thought might be a laugh. There was also a gorgeous blue. For every colour I could imagine choosing plants to complement or contrast. In the end I settled on a soft sage green, to complement the silver leaved plants which I knew would do well in our dry, stony soil. I also indulged myself by painting the inside a light cream, which is so much brighter on overcast days.

Four years on, the heavily scented, pale pink rose New Dawn scrambles up the trellis attached to the side. The shrubs I planted to the front are beginning to provide cover and the nearby Eucalyptus provides a bit of height. My mother was inspired to paint her shed after seeing mine. Her garden is so tiny that disguise wasn’t an option. She went for vivid blue with a stained glass window! It looks stunning surrounded by vibrant pots and hanging baskets.

Why not get creative this month? Say no to orange and yes to red, blue, yellow, grey and lilac!

-- Rob Amey

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Allium

One of my favourite flowers at this time of year is the Allium. It’s a great flower as it adds interest to your garden with its tall round purple head. It is also known to attract bees.


I did not know until recently that you can collect seeds from the Allium. Once the Allium has lost its petals, the green middle of the flowers swell and eventually dry out, revealing black seeds. These seeds can be sown the following spring and will reach flowering size in a few years.
-- Gemma Dray