Summer tips

Keith Mundy

Summer is with us again, and with it come the many tasks required to keep our gardens looking their best, and hopefully, this year, not as tragic as last summer.
Although we have had some amazing rain, and more forecast to come during the summer, there will still be a requirement to water the garden, whether garden beds, lawns, or pots.
Garden beds require a good soaking at least every 7-10 days using a sprinkler and not a handheld spray. Watering with a handheld spray is basically just a waste of this valuable resource. Invariably the surface just gets a wetting and water does not reach the feeder roots of the plants, thus encouraging a shallow root system. In periods of extreme dry conditions, plants with shallow roots dry out very quickly and place the plant under stress, often leading to death.
Similarly, with lawn watering, it is best to deep-water a couple of times per week to encourage deep rooting of the grass. This, again, will assist in preventing the grass drying out. Lift the mower blades up a couple of notches, as more leaf will help the plant through hot days.
Many of us have installed pots into the garden, and the watering of these is an important practice. Plants suffer a lot of stress in pots because they often miss out, as they are in a rain shadow in the garden. Because it has rained, you may expect that they have been watered. Usually rain is not sufficient, though, and they dry out very quickly, leading to wilt and subsequent leaf and flower drop. Liquid fertilising can take place at the same time, which in turn keeps the plant growing well.

Pest control is also on top of the list during summer.
Keep an eye out for aphid infestation on roses and new growth on other plants, as the aphids like the warmer weather and can do some serious damage. Use a complete insecticide and fungicidal spray to control any pest on the roses, including black spot and powdery mildew. There are many organic forms available on the market. Practices like watering plants in the early morning and placing the sprinkler in such a position so overhead watering cannot take place will also assist in the prevention of fungal diseases.
Spring flowering perennials can also do with a tidy up during this month, removing spent flower heads and any unsightly foliage that might have died. This will encourage another flush of flowers and carry through until autumn.

A repeat planting of summer salad vegetables can take place, assuring you of a continual supply of delicious food. Remember to water your tomatoes at root level and not overhead. This will also prevent disease activity. Using a fertiliser high in potassium will enhance flowering; therefore, more fruit.
Finally, I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and look forward to providing more great gardening tips in the New Year.