JULY IN YOUR GARDEN
- When the first flush of roses is over, prune back lightly and feed with a rose fertilizer.
- Be sure to water plants in tubs, raised beds and on walls thoroughly.
- Feed your houseplants regularly with a liquid feed.
- Treat weeds with a lawn weed killer before they get a firm foothold.
- Continue to feed tomatoes and cucumbers.
- Ventilate your tunnels and greenhouse.
Reap the rewards of all your hard work! This month you should be harvesting the following: blackcurrants, strawberries, raspberries, peas, spinach, rocket, endive, beans, spring onions, new potatoes, lettuce, broccoli (calabrese and purple sprouting). Harvest shallots and hand them up to dry. Enjoy.
How to plant good companions
Plants have friends and enemies, too and you can use this to get bigger and better crops in your vegetable patch. Some plants have the same needs; others will help deter pests while a few will even act in a supporting role. The trick is to know who gets on with whom and which ones you definitely need to keep at opposite ends of the garden. Smell is very important; some plants can confuse garden pests with their scent. If your carrots were plagued by carrot root fly this year then try growing alliums, such as chives or leeks, between the rows to throw them off the scent. Strongly scented marigolds can also help to deter carrot root fly. Black fly when growing beans is my number one problem, this year we grew the poached egg plant beside them and so far no blackfly. Ladybirds are our best friends in the garden centre, so much so that we encourage them to come live here, by placing little wooden houses for them amongst the rose beds. It sounds strange but ladybirds are big fans of greenfly for lunch. You can encourage them into your garden by planting fragrant midsummer perennials such as phlox, evening primrose, lavender and catmint.
Take advantage of the different ways you grow plants, tall, trailing and climbing can help each other out. Native American Indians used a technique called the ‘three sisters’ this involves planting sweetcorn, pumpkins, and beans together, the tall sweetcorn provides a climbing support for the beans, which in turn fix nitrogen in the soil to feed the other two hungry plants. The best bit is that the pumpkins trail along the ground and smother the weeds. You can also offer up a sacrifice, nasturtiums play the role of victim particularly well; their smell keeps the bugs off pumpkins and broccoli while caterpillars love them and will happily eat them rather than your prize cabbages.