Gardening jobs for July
July is often the hottest and driest month of the year. For most of us it means holidays, but in terms of gardening jobs it means endless watering. If you are off on holiday, make sure you get someone lined up to take care of the watering while your away. A week without any water can be tough to recover from and may well spell the end for most plants.
Gardening jobs in your veg garden
Harvest early potatoes
It won’t be long until the first early potatoes are ready to harvest. Usually potatoes start to flower as a sign that they are getting ready to be harvested. At this point make sure they have a good supply of water so the tubers can swell. Keep an eye out for blight which can strike during the warm and humid months of summer.
Freshly picked peas are so sweet it is hard to resist. They are one of the crops that barely make it back from the veg plot. They will start to flower and provide crops from June onwards. Keep picking them and keep them well-watered and they should continue flowering for a few weeks more.
By midsummer the onions will be swelling ready for harvesting. You can tell they are ready when the tops flop and start to yellow. Lift them from the bed and remove any soil. They might need a couple of weeks drying in the sun so the skins toughen and the stems can be plaited together for storage.
Gardening jobs: Ornamentals
Pick sweet peas
Keep picking your sweet peas regularly. There should be lots of flowers on your plants by now and if you keep picking them you will stop them expending energy trying to produce seeds which will dramatically reduce the number of flowers.
Deadheading roses should keep them flowering throughout the summer. As soon as the flowers start to drop their petals nip them off just behind the head. On modern types, flowers tend to be produced in clusters. Deadheading means secondary flowers will have more of a chance of develop.
Cut back oriental poppies after flowering
If you cut back the stems of oriental poppies as soon as they have finished flowering they will put on fresh new foliage, and sometimes if you are lucky they will throw up a few more flowers over the course of the summer.
Irises should have finished flowering by now, so its the perfect time to split them and increase your stocks. Lift them carefully trying not to damage the roots. Split it into sections, each of which has a shoot and a section of root. Cut the leaves back by about two thirds and pot them up so the fleshy roots are just on the surface, with the fibrous ones buried. They should have rooted and be ready for planting out by the autumn.
Plant autumn flowering bulbs
Gardeners always seem to spend their time thinking about the next season approaching. One thing I regularly forget is to plant autumn flowering bulbs like colchicum and sternbergia. They will need to be planted this month, so spot any areas where you think they might look good in the autumn and get your orders in.
Early flowering annuals like calendula, poppies and nigella will start to produce seedheads this month. Collect them as they ripen and put them in labelled paper bags ready to use to grow next years plants.
Gardening jobs for your lawn
Lift mower blades
During dry spells it’s best to lift the mower blades and leave the grass slightly longer. It should help to avoid it become too stressed in the heat.
Keep watering any newly seeded or turfed patches
Any patches of grass that were repaired with new seed or turf in the spring will need to be kept well watered during the warm dry months of the summer. Soak them once or twice a week rather than giving them a sprinkling every day.
Brush away anthills
During hot days ants will often clear out debris from the nests. You might spot small amounts of fine soil on the lawn. Simply use a broom to distribute the fine soil before mowing. This will also encourage them to set up their nests elsewhere. It’s not worth the effort trying to treat them with any chemicals as they are pretty mobile and tend to move around fairly regularly.
Gardening jobs in your greenhouse
Sow winter bedding
It may seem like an odd time to be thinking about winter, but if you want pansies and violas in your garden this winter, now is the time to start sowing them. The small seeds can be scattered on to the surface of compost and covered lightly with a layer of vermiculite. They will germinate in a week or two and be ready for pricking out into separate pots within a month.
The tomatoes will be growing quickly now. They will need tying into supports regularly to keep them upright. Determinate (bush) types will only get to around 1-1.5m, but put on lot of side branches. Indeterminate (cordon) types will continue growing as long as you allow them too so need a different treatment. Remove any side shoots as they develop and once the plant has put on 4-5 trusses of fruit, nip the end. There’s no point having any more fruit as they are unlikely to ripen.
Gardening jobs: Pests and diseases
Summer fruiting raspberries will sometimes appear grey, brown or a bit mouldy at the top edges. This is caused by the grubs of the raspberry beetle. You can use pyrethrum based spray to eradicate them, or a hormone trap to capture adults before they lay their young on your fruit.