Summer, and time to slow down, just a bit, in the garden. Watering, deadheading and feeding are one of the most important jobs in the summer. By feeding regularly, a tomato feed is ideal as it produces more flower, your baskets and tubs will flower well into September. In the borders, foliage can be cut back as it dies back. Hardy geraniums will grow a new set of leaves quite quickly. If you are left with gaps, fill them with a pot of lilies bought from the local nursery. Leave ornamental seedheads to give some winter interest. Prune rambler or climbing roses that don’t have ornamental hips and clear any diseased leaves from both these and bush roses. Camellias and Rhododendrons need regular watering, preferably with rain water, otherwise they may drop their buds before flowering next year. Some plants suffer with mildew, a white deposit on leaves. This is also caused by dryness, so try to keep them watered. A mulch of bark will help. If you want to collect lavender to dry (it helps to keep moths away), it should be gathered before the flowers start to fade. If you have Camellias or Rhododendrons with low growing branches you could try layering them to produce new plants. Trim some of the leaves from a stem, bury the stem into the soil, keep it moist and it will eventually produce roots. The stem can be cut from the parent plant, but don’t be in to much of a hurry to lift it. The RHS have a range of books which give more advice on propagation and pruning. They are often available at the library.
Tomatoes should be starting to ripen now, so keep them watered and fed, Irregular watering can cause problems with ‘blossom end rot’, and splitting. Peppers, and cucumbers will also be growing fast. Root vegetables will also split if not watered regularly. It isn’t too late to sow more salad crops. If you are growing onions or shallots they can be lifted and allowed to dry on the ground before storing. Potatoes can also be dug and stored after drying. Don’t leave then in the open for long or they will turn green. Store them in paper or hessian sacks. If you are growing marrows, pumpkins, squash etc, try to keep them off the ground to prevent rotting. And don’t let your courgettes turn into marrows, pick them regularly. Useful for chutney and many other recipes.
Strawberries will have mainly finished fruiting and producing lots of runners. Peg these into a pot of compost and they will soon root, ready to replace old plants. Summer fruiting raspberries will also be over and should be cut down to the ground. If you have fruit trees, summer pruning should be done now if necessary.
If you are going away, ask a neighbour to water for you, collect pots and baskets in a shady corner, preferably near a water butt or tap. Tell them to pick fruit and vegetables as a reward!
While relaxing in the garden, you could study bulb catalogues to choose new varieties to plant in the autumn. Watch out for flowering times, so that you have a good season of colour.