Garden tips for summer

Summer is hopefully finally here after a very late spring and the most important thing to do now is enjoy your garden.

Your garden should be full of glorious colours and scent so what could be more enjoyable and satisfying than to sit back with a glass of wine and take in the results of your hard work throughout the year.

July and August are often some of the hottest months of the year so you need to keep on top of the watering.  Regularly water and feed your plants, especially those in hanging baskets, pots or containers; they will need watering every day sometimes twice in very hot and windy weather.  If you have a water butt it will soon run dry in hot weather so why not try using bathwater and washing up water, providing they are not too dirty or oily.

To keep your plants looking good, deadheading is a must.  Remove all spent blooms which will encourage your plants to keep producing flowers and give you a good display well into the autumn.  Chop oriental poppies, lupins, delphiniums and hardy geraniums right down to the ground once they have finished flowering – be brave and be brutal – the plants will soon produce a new flush of leaves and some may even flower again.

Pests love warm weather, so be on your guard.  Keep a look out for caterpillar and aphids such as Greenfly and Blackfly.  These can be dealt with by hand if caught early enough, but you may have to resort to insecticides if you have too many or just grin and bear it.  Try to attract beneficial insects that will feed on the pests by growing a wide variety of plants – ladybirds and their larvae love aphids and other good predators are lacewings and even wasps.

On a nice sunny day instead of sitting on your wooden garden furniture why not give it a make over and apply a coat of wood preservative, oil or varnish, you will surprised how much nicer it looks when you have finished.

The birds have raised their young and food is plentiful, but water is not always easy to come by in hot weather.  Don’t forget to keep your birdbaths topped up with fresh water or if you don’t have one why not put out a large saucer.  The birds will soon be in to have a drink or a bath to keep their feathers in good condition.

It is always nice to have a lovely green lawn but in hot weather it will soon turn brown.  Don’t rush for the hose it is a waste of time, come autumn it will soon green up again when you can apply an autumn feed to see it thought the winter months.  Keep mowing your lawn but raise the height of your blades if the weather remains hot.  If you have been away on holiday and the lawn has grown out of control make sure the first cut is on the highest setting and then on progressively lower settings until back to the usual level – this will help the grass to grow new leaves and stay green.  If you cut too short too soon you will end up with a brown lawn which will take longer to recover.

As we approach August it is a good time to start thinking about compost bins.  You can buy bins or you could try building one out of old wooden pallets.  It is essential to replace the goodness in soil and when you tidy your gardens away in autumn you will have large quantities of garden waste that will add invaluable organic richness back into your soil next spring.  Remember to add a variety of different materials, green waste and brown.  All old plants and prunings, but never use diseased or pest ridden material. Old torn up news papers, vegetable peeling from the kitchen and grass clippings can also be added.  Make sure it is mixed up well and turn it regularly with a fork to add air and speed up decomposition.

I hope you enjoy your garden this summer, so sit back in the sun with a glass in your hand and start planning how you will improve your garden for next year.

If you live on the Medmenham patch and you need help in your garden and feel I can help, do not hesitate to contact through www.theladygardener.talktalk.net.

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