Top tips to Help Your Garden Survive Summer
In theory, summer is the most productive time of year for vegetable gardens. Maintaining soil moisture is the real challenge, but this is when the hard work preparation you did in the cooler months pays off! Water regularly; either early morning or in the evening and apply more mulch if necessary. Continue regular plantings of seedlings of rapidly maturing vegetables e.g. dwarf beans, lettuce, and radish.
In December, plan how to manage your vegetable garden in the upcoming dry months; mulching existing beds, installing irrigation systems, cultivating more vegetables that are tolerant of hot, dry conditions. Too often vegetable gardens are abandoned during January and February. Aim to maintain a successful and heavily producing vegetable garden through to Autumn 2021.
Flowering annuals like alyssum, cornflower, cosmos, marigolds, petunias, portulacas, salvias, strawflowers, and zinnias will be looking stunning. Top-up any plantings that need it with ‘potted colour’ (readily available flowering annuals from garden centres).
Although these plants love the hot summer weather, they will still need regular, deep watering. Keep dead-heading (removing finished flowers), and annuals such as petunias will need to be cut back to encourage some new growth and continuous flowering.
Containers & Hanging Baskets
With the salad vegetables growing in containers, replant with new, young seedlings to replace harvested vegetables. Top-up rewarding annuals with potted colour to maintain flowering displays. Water your pots and hanging baskets thoroughly, rather than a light sprinkle every other night. It’s important that plants do not dry out. If you go away on holiday, ask a neighbour to water them or you can put them under trees where there is dappled light so they don’t dry out as quickly
Summer can be difficult for roses as they battle rust and blackspot. Continue ‘deadheading’ (the removal of finished flowers) and fertilise in early December with Daltons Premium Rose and Flower Fertiliser (recommence again in mid-February), and mulch with fresh compost to reduce the impact of bushes drying out. Spray every two weeks to treat any disease or pests. The next brilliant displays of rose blooms will be in March/April – but it’s a holding exercise till then!
The first of the new season’s fruit will begin to ripen towards the end of December e.g. Wilson’s early plum. During this time other pip and stone fruit trees may require some light summer pruning to allow full sunlight to reach developing fruit.
Fruit trees like apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums which will be laden with delicious fruit in January! If you have any newly planted fruit trees, make sure they are regularly and deeply watered to help them establish a strong root system and mulch around them well.
Strawberries & Raspberries
Check the plants regularly for any sign of botrytis (grey mould). If it is apparent then remove and destroy any infected fruit or leaves. New varieties can continue cropping throughout summer and extend the traditional strawberry season, so care for your beds well. Water plants regularly and maintain good mulch layer with pea straw or crushed bark. Plants will start sending out ‘runners’ towards the end of January. Leave them to develop into next seasons plants, or remove them if they are not required.
Hopefully, there will be fresh raspberries for Christmas! Raspberries can grow very rapidly at this time of the year. Canes need to be tied up and surplus canes removed. Remember there will be a second crop of raspberries early in the New Year. Continue tying up young canes for next season’s crop. Remove excess growth where it’s not required.
Herbs are at their peak and thrive over the hot summer months. Keep clipping your herbs even when you are not using them in the kitchen. This encourages young, fresh growth. Some herbs like parsley naturally mature and go to seed towards the end of January. This is a sign to replant with new specimens. Always plant more of the herbs you use most frequently so you have a continuous supply.
The long hot summer is not easy for lawns. Where water is abundant you can irrigate to maintain your lawn but in reality, most of us struggle with water restrictions and the high cost of water. Therefore, just do the minimum until the cooler, moister autumn months arrive. Let the grass grow a little longer than usual to allow more ‘latitude’ if drought conditions are experienced.