Gardening in summer – Keep Feeding, Keep Weeding!

The feeling of summer is still in its prime and depending on the Great British weather, our gardens can be enjoyed from dawn til dusk!  By mid July, perennials have reached their peak height, and the kitchen garden has come into its own – it may not be perfectly tidy – but we can feel proud of our achievements. Here are a few ideas to keep your garden flourishing.  And it’s never too early to start planning for next year!

What to do now:

August is the best time for cutting back English lavender

Give lavender its summer chop in August.  You can tell it’s ready when the flowers have gone grey.  There won’t be any bees humming around the stalks.  English lavender can take hard pruning (French lavender has the little ‘ears’ on top and needs different pruning).  Take a bunch in your hand and chop back to the tiny shoots in the brown wood.

Offer to water a friend’s garden while they’re on holiday – they may well return the favour!

Regularly check your crops and flowers for greenfly and other pests, and treat immediately.  Beat blackfly on shrubs by directing a jet of water over the plant while rubbing off the blackfly with your fingers.  Or use an insecticide such as a soap spray, before the infestation becomes too severe.

Keep on feeding! – little and often is best for feeding, to maintain healthy growth throughout the summer.  Slow-release pellets are a good choice – you simply push them into the soil.  Alternatively, a fertiliser than can be mixed with water.  Hanging baskets will do well on tomato food, or a balanced fertiliser such as Miracle-Gro.

Keep on weeding!  Dig out lawn weeds.  Make weeding part of your daily routine in summer, preferably remove weeds before they flower and set seed.  Loosen the roots from the soil with a trowel.  Tease over your borders on dry days with a hoe, to pull out weeds from the soil.

In the kitchen garden: 

Sow carrots, beetroot and turnips, which should keep you going into autumn.

Give greedy feeders such as courgettes and tomatoes a boost with liquid food.

Plant out winter brassicas such as cabbages and kale, and use a collar to stop cabbage root fly laying its eggs.

Shear off old foliage on strawberries once they’ve finished fruiting, and clear away the compost and straw.