Thursday, July 15, 2010

Things to do in the July garden

'The Earth is mother,
Of all that is natural,
Of that that is human.'
- Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), German abbess, poet, mystic & composer
  • Between SESSIONS IN THE HAMMOCK scuffle away a few weeds, and clean some plants of dead flowers. Cut-and-hold flower scissors simplify deadheading. Snip with one hand; hold a pail to receive the faded flowers in the other. Keep roses, and annual and perennial flowers cleaned of faded bloom. This maintains a fresh look in the ornamental garden and helps to prevent disease.
  • Cut faded sweet pea flowers off the vines to prevent seed formation and a halt to flowering.
  • MULCH AROUND MOISTURE-HUNGRY PLANTS such as summer phlox, lupin and delphinum using compost or composted manure mixed with damp peat. Water the area thoroughly first. {mulching around all your plants works well - just make sure the mulch isn't crowding too close to the stem of the plant or else disease or rot of the stem might occur}
  • SEED flowering kale and cabbage, winter pansies, and spring-blooming biennials such as English and Siberian wallflowers, sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis) and forget-me-not for spring bloom.
  • For fresh fall and winter vegetables sow carrots, beets, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, edible or garland chrysanthemum (chop suey greens), and oriental radishes.
  • LIFT AND DIVIDE overgrown or bare-centred bearded iris clumps after flowering has finished. {I will be doing this very shortly as I had a wonderful showing of bearded iris, but they are being crowded out by astilbes & my 'mini' spirea}
  • SUMMER PRUNE FRUIT TREES, shortening the new growth to help keep the trees compact.
  • HARVEST beans, cucumbers and summer squash while they are young, to enjoy them at their peak of tenderness and flavor and to keep the plants in production. Harvest shallots and garlic after the tops have died down.
  • SECURE NEW TOMATO STEM GROWTH to the plants' stakes as the stems elongate, and snap off suckers that develop where leaf stems join the main stem of the plant. {Aim for a 'V' look instead of a 'W' - the sucker is the middle shoot popping up & this needs to be done about once a week}
  • HANGING BASKETS WILL NEED WATER daily in warm weather. To freshen the appearance of basket plantings, clip away dead parts and trim the plants back a little. Top up the soil with a little rich and humusy planting mix, and water with a mild fish fertilizer solution. 
  • CLEAR HARVESTED VEGETABLE AREAS that hosted plants such as broad beans, early pea vines, and lettuce and cabbage stumps. Chop or cut the roots and stumps up for the compost, and replant the emptied sites with fall vegetables. Or, seed the plots with buckwheat as a weed-suppressing summer cover crop that will enrich the soil when it is dug under during its flowering period -- about six weeks after seeding.
  • SET THE LAWN MOWER A LITTLE HIGHER for the summer months. Longer grass shades the roots, conserves moisture, and inhibits weed growth. For minimal stress to the lawn, and for short clippings that break down easily to nourish the grass plants, mow often. {or just stop mowing altogether! Well, maybe once in a while...}
  • MAINTAIN MOISTURE IN COMPOST PILES, and fluff them up every week or so to introduce fresh air and stimulate microbial activity for speedy decomposition.
  • To assist the setting of pods in dry, warm weather, APPLY A FINE WATER SPRAY OFTEN TO RUNNER BEAN FLOWERS. Keep the plants consistently well watered, and mulch with compost to reduce moisture loss and enrich the soil.
  • PRUNE WISTERIA this month. Leave just four or five leaf stems on the new growth made this year. The new growth will be noticeably smoother and greener than last year's growth.

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