In theory summer in the UK should be hot and dry. In practice it is only hot in spells and it still rains quite a bit most summers. It is best to think of it as a way of making the hot days feel more special. On such days, temperatures can reach 30C, though not much higher, and the British public make the most of it. People swarm to beaches, sit out in parks and generally revel in the hot temperatures. This is matched by the increased hours of daylight which reach almost 17 hours in London in mid June.
Hoe borders regularly to keep down weeds. Do not water unnecessarily. Position summer hanging baskets and mow lawns at least once a week.
Plant out summer bedding. Stake tall or floppy plants, ideally before they have grown tall. Prune Spring flowering shrubs.
Check clematis for signs of wilt. Water pots and newly planted plants if dry. Water thoroughly – not just a sprinkle. Deadhead bedding plants and repeat flowering perennials.
Give the lawn a quick-acting summer feed. Clear ponds of debris, particularly blanket weed, and keep topped-up.
Prune Wisteria and deadhead flowering plants regularly. Keep ponds and water features topped-up and water containers and new plants preferably with grey recycled water or stored water.
Fruit & Vegetable Garden
This is the last month for sowing many crops as we pass the longest day.
Successional sowing each fortnight of beetroot, french beans, early carrots, kohlrabi, early peas, lettuce, rocket, turnips, endive, radish, spring onions will give you a constant supply of salads and vegetables at their peak for your plate.
Also french and runner beans, maincrop peas, beetroot, carrots, turnips, swedes, cauliflowers, chicory, endive, kohl rabi, sweetcorn, squash, courgette and marrows.
It is time to plant out, broccoli, calabrese, brussels sprouts and summer cabbage, runner and french beans. Also outdoor tomatoes can be put out into their final position.
Numerous pests will be evident such as caterpillars and their eggs, slugs and snails.
Water when the soil is dry a few inches below the surface (stick your finger in to see) thoroughly – about 10 litres per square metre, preferably in the evening but can be done early morning.
If we do get a prolonged dry spell, don’t forget that fruit bushes and trees need watering. Swelling apples and currants need water as much as leafy vegetables.Thin out fruit trees and tie in blackberry canes.
When you’ve had the last rhubarb, give it a good feed by mulching with well-rotted manure mixed with a fertiliser such as growmore.
Keep pinching off the side shoots of tomatoes and keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, whitefly, red spider mite.
July is usually one of the hottest and driest months so a lot of time may be spent watering. Reduce water loss and so save yourself some time by. Mulching with a thick layer of organic matter. Another good method of preventing water loss is to hoe. This not only kills the weeds but breaks up the top of the soil stopping water from being drawn to the surface by capillary action and evaporating.
Early potatoes should be coming out of the ground. Sow spring cabbage, chicory, chinese cabbage, kohl rabi, lettuce, peas, french beans, beetroot, carrots, turnips and radishes. If they’ve not gone out yet, it’s time to plant out leeks. Brassicas from pots can go out as well such as broccoli, calabrese, brussel sprouts and cabbage.
Harvest Garlic (if not done in june ) and onions.
Follow on the first early potatoes with leeks but otherwise a green manure can avoid bare ground which is just going to grow weeds. Mustard is fast growing and is supposed to confuse the potato eel worm into breeding at the wrong time. Another fast growing green manure crop you can use is French beans.
Keep on top of the weeds, it really is far easier to hoe them as small seedlings than as grown plants.
Pinch out the tops of broad beans which are most attractive to blackfly. Keep your onions well weeded and don’t forget to feed them.
If we do get a prolonged dry spell, don’t forget that that fruit bushes and trees need watering. Swelling apples and currants need water as much as leafy vegetables. Give a good soaking rather than little sprinkles that encourage surface rooting.
Finish thinning apples, pears and plums etc. if needed. It’s the right time for summer pruning as well. Pick soft fruits now assuming you’ve kept the birds away with netting or a cage and they’ve left you some.
Ensure good ventilation in the greenhouse and polytunnel.
Keep pinching off the side shoots of your tomatoes and keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, whitefly, and red spider mite..
Sweetcorn will soon be ripe and ready and there are still quite a few things you should be sowing in August. Spring cabbage and chinese cabbage, which is a late crop as well as hardy lettuce.
Sow spring onions like White Lisbon which are winter hardy. Late spinach can be sown in August along with a last sowing of kohlrabi and turnips. Plant out the savoy cabbages and cauliflowers to grow on for the earliest crop as well as hardy kales.
Pinch out the tips of runner beans which will be at the top of the canes now.
Stop tomato plants now to encourage fruit to swell and ripen.
Keep on top of the pests. Aphids and Blackfly are a particular problem in the greenhouse. A squirt with soft soap solution will do no harm to the plants and will reduce the numbers down by stopping the pests breathing.
Fruit - If we do get a prolonged dry spell, don’t forget that that fruit bushes and trees need watering. Swelling apples and currants need water as much as leafy vegetables. Give a good soaking.
It’s the last chance for summer pruning. Watch out for overladen plums and damsons.
Keep the base of trees weed and grass free, mulch to keep in moisture and add fertility with garden compost.
Protect autumn raspberries now with netting. Ensure good ventilation in the Greenhouse and Polytunnel and keep pinching off the side shoots of your tomatoes and stop them a few leaves after a truss.