ADVICE FOR LATE JULY
- Thin heavy fruit crops, picking off the smallest. Aim to leave developing fruits about 10-15cm apart along the stems, perhaps thinning congested spurs down to just a single fruit.
- Sow seed of herbs now, including basil, parsley and coriander.
- Sow vegetable seeds now, including endive, lettuce and salad leaves, beetroot, radishes, spring cabbages, ‘Eskimo’ carrots, Swiss chard, winter spinach, Oriental greens, spring onions, turnips.
- Summer prune your wisteria.
- Water tomatoes regularly to prevent fruit splitting and blossom end rot.
- Spray potatoes and outdoor tomatoes with Bordeaux mixture to prevent blight.
- Resist the temptation to harvest more rhubarb stems. This allows the plant to build up reserves for next year.
- Pick runner beans regularly to prevent them becoming stringy and to make room for developing pods. Leaving mature pods on the plant can prevent further flowers forming and reduce your crop.
- Prune your plum, apricot, peach and cherry trees now. Pruning these species in the summer reduces the risk of these trees getting silver leaf disease.
- If you've trained your apples and pears as cordons, fans or espaliers, give them their summer prune now to maintain a good shape.
- This is your last chance to feed your lawn with a special lawn fertiliser to encourage healthy green growth.
Over the last number of weeks I have covered hydrangeas in all their many forms. All the beautiful colours that you would hope for will only materialise when you care for your plants by feeding and pruning properly, but firstly you need to pick the right location and soil. There is nothing new about this as the same apples to most plants. The problem that arises for most of us is deciding when all these different plants need pruning. With hydrangeas, there are basically two sets of guidelines when it comes to pruning. All the Macrophylla family, that is the hydrangeas with big round heads in pinks, blues, whites and reds that you see in many peoples gardens require very little pruning. A light pruning in late march removing the previous seasons flower heads and taking out any wispy old branches. If the plants are overgrowing their space reduce the overall size of the plant by taking out a number of the old stems right back to ground level, this will encourage new growth and flowering in subsequent years. In the midlands leaving on the flower heads over winter is very important as it protects the emerging buds from late frosts. Not following these rules will explain why some hydrangeas never flower. Apart from benefiting from a good feed in early spring hydrangeas are best planted where they get shade from the early morning sun, especially after frost in late spring. The hydrangea Paniculata family they are the ones that produces a large white cone shaped flowers on current seasons growth and are pruned right back to ground level every spring. Given a good feed they will grow strongly and flower in the same season. Hydrangeas planted in groups in the garden or individually on the patio are excellent for summer/Autumn colour.