Hopefully July will be a lovely warm month (dare we hope for hot?) meaning that regular watering will be necessary. In fact, water/feed/weed/repeat is the July gardening mantra.
July is when we get to eat the edibles that we’ve grown and to fill our vases with the ornamentals. True satisfaction and pleasure can be gained from a delicious meal of homegrown fruit and veg enjoyed in a well looked after garden with a vase of sweet smelling, freshly picked annuals adorning the table.
- Remove duck weed from ponds and keep the water level topped up. It’s surprising how much water will evaporate during a sunny spell.
- Tie in climbers and stake dahlias and other tall plants to prevent them flopping
- Maintain a consistent watering and feeding regime, remembering that different varieties of plants will have different needs and that plants growing in pots will need a little extra
- Keep up the fight against slugs, snails and other pests. Encourage birds and other wildlife into the garden and they’ll lend their support
- Remove side shoots from cordon tomatoes and water and feed regularly.
- It can get very hot in the greenhouse so leave the door and vents open and consider applying shading paint or similar. Damping down the floor with a hose will help to reduce the temperature and increase humidity
- Pick cucumbers as soon as they’ve reached the right size for the variety and are still nice and firm. A slice of cucumber in a G&T makes a lovely change to the traditional lemon.
- Keep picking courgettes to encourage the plant to keep producing. Share with friends and neighbours until they beg you to stop.
- Early potatoes will be ready for lifting but dig under just the one plant first to check they are the size you want.
Off with Their Heads
One of the least strenuous of gardening jobs must be deadheading. With a careful snip snip here and a pinch pinch there your plants will be revived and freshened. Soft stemmed plants can be deadheaded by pinching between finger and thumb whereas secateurs will be needed for the stronger stems.
Reasons for deadheading:
- Keeps the plant looking tidy and with plants such as roses stops the petals from scattering
- Encourages the plant to produce more flowers (which in turn leads to more deadheading!)
- Directs energy into stronger growth
- Bedding plants
- Sweet peas – keep filling those vases!
- Some perennials such as Delphinium, Lupins, Yarrow and Rudbeckia
Not worth deadheading:
- Plants that bear autumn berries
- Roses with attractive hips
- Plants with attractive seed heads
- Sunflowers – leave them for the birds!
- Plants such as lobelia that produce numerous tiny flowers
- Plants that you want to self-seed and spread
July is when indoor cucumbers will be ready to harvest although outdoor varieties will probably be a little later. There are few vegetables that are more cooling and refreshing on a hot July day and not just taken internally. Grated cucumber smoothed onto sunburnt skin, insect bites and stings will give instant relief.
Long used medicinally for reducing fevers and inflammation, cucumber is still used as a foil against hot and spicy foods. Who hasn’t enjoyed a cool Indian raita alongside a hot curry?
Consisting of 96.4% water, cucumbers do still have health benefits, containing vitamins A and C plus an assortment of minerals, including calcium and potassium. But to gain the benefit of these nutrients the cucumber must be eaten unpeeled.
Cucumbers are oft enjoyed chopped in a green or Greek salad. They also partner beautifully with melon, crumbled feta and torn basil. But cucumbers can also be braised in butter and stock, fried with garlic and ginger, oiled and grilled on the BBQ or baked with lemon and herbs in olive oil.
If you are lucky enough to have a cucumber glut then they really do make the most delicious pickle, combined with dill and red chilli.
Cucumber pairs well with:
Feta Mint Basil Dill Melon
Salmon Mackerel Butter Cream Lemon
Beetroot New Potatoes Radish Gherkins Yoghurt
How to get the best from your Sweet Peas
Feed the plants once a fortnight and water regularly during dry weather
Check that the plants have sufficient support and improve if necessary, tying the stems in with soft twine
Remove side-shoots and tendrils as this will increase the vigour of the main stem
If buds start to drop, don’t panic! It’s probably just due to a change in weather and will stop once things settle
Aphids are the most likely pest so keep an eye out for them.
The more blooms you pick then the more you will get so pick often, certainly every 2 to 3 days
If you do spot any seed pods forming, then snip them off immediately. As soon as the plant thinks it has secured the next generation by setting seed it will stop flowering. So, keep those scissors handy!
The best time to pick is early morning or in the evening. Avoid picking during the heat of the day as they will quickly dehydrate, and this will reduce the vase life
Cut the stems cleanly, leaving them as long as possible. Immediately plunge the stems, up to their necks, in a bucket of cold water. Leave the bucket in the shade until you are ready to transfer the stems to vases
If you’re going on holiday arrange for a lucky friend or neighbour to pop round and pick your sweet peas. They’ll get lovely free flowers for the house and the plants will keep blooming.
If you return from holiday and find the friends or neighbours didn’t pick enough and the plants have start to set seed, then don’t despair! Instead, remove all flower stems, water and feed. This should hopefully revive the plants and they’ll soon start to bloom again.
Grow Your Own Saffron
While we may be enjoying some fantastic weather in our stunning summer gardens, let’s start to look ahead to the autumn and some fantastic autumn flowering bulbs. In particular, the amazing Saffron Crocus!
The beautiful autumn-blooming Saffron Crocus sativus is, as its name suggests, the flower from which we gather saffron. Renowned for being the most expensive spice in the world, Saffron provides the quintessential seasoning for paella as well as other Mediterranean dishes and is a staple for creating the perfect yellow rice to accompany your favourite curry. Not only can the stigmas be used for flavouring and colouring dishes, the vibrant lilac-purple blooms will also bring a dash of colour to your autumn garden. Truly a win win.
The Saffron Crocus will thrive in a well drained border and can be grown in containers on your patio. They are also super hardy and multiply rapidly to give stunning blooms and a steady supply of Saffron year after year.
Available to order now for August despatch. Buy 60 bulbs for £14.99 and save £4.99
Plant of the Month
If you’re looking to add a tropical vibe to your outside space, look no further than these cannas. With bold leaves that add texture and showy flowers in shades of red, yellow, orange and pink they are sure to wow in your containers and borders.
Supplied in 2 litre pots and ready to despatch now, they are ready to put on a stunning display this summer. The best part is that you can get 3 for only £15!