Another year is underway and, as one season follows on from the last one, the tasks might change but there is always plenty to do in the garden.
Summer brings with it the usual tasks we can all relate to and, although these tasks can seem tiresome, they are most essential in the overall upkeep of our gardens. Luckily this year we have had ample rain but this has led to one major task that most of us are not too pleased with and that is mowing the grass more often than we have had to do in previous seasons. Many gardeners think that by mowing the grass very short that this will slow the grass growth down. In fact, it is the opposite and the grass will grow a lot quicker. Ideally the mower should be set on a higher setting and not only is the job done more quickly, there are also fewer grass clippings to get rid of.
Mowing the grass very short also introduces many weeds and the lawn becomes unsightly. Another very important task is to ‘dead head’ roses and give them a light application of rose food. This will encourage new flowering wood for an autumn flush of flowering and assist in the prevention of summer pests and diseases. Diseases like black spot and powdery mildew can be taken care of with a rose fungicide and insect pests like aphid can be controlled with a systemic insect spray. Practices like watering roses in the early morning and placing the sprinkler in a position so overhead watering doesn’t take place will also assist in the prevention of fungal diseases. Summer pruning of fruit trees can also take place after the crop has finished. Thinning out a lot of the new growth made since the major prune in winter will allow the tree to strengthen branches giving the tree a greater structure. Plant hygiene is also crucial at this time wherein all spoilt fruit should be collected from under the trees and diseased leaves from under the rose bushes should also be collected and disposed of. Perennial plants can also do with a tidy up, removing spent flower heads and any unsightly foliage that might have died. This will encourage another flush of flowers and carry through until early winter.
Setting up the vegetable garden for the autumn crop can commence now. Most of the summer crops will be finishing off soon so it is a good time to plan and prepare for the cauliflowers, broccoli, cabbages, onions and the like that prefer the cooler months that are just around the corner. Dig over the beds and add some animal manure and lime and let things rest for a few weeks. By that time the weather will have cooled and the autumn seedlings can go in. Remember to practice crop rotation – therefore do not follow a crop with another planting from the same family as they are likely to suffer from the same pests and diseases.
Autumn flower seedlings will soon be available in nurseries so keep an eye out for pansies, viola, primula, poppies, stocks and so on.
Just a note on plant availability from nurseries. You might have found it a bit harder than usual to source your favourite plants. Be patient, as the growers are having trouble keeping up with demand, but we are assured that things are in hand to get stock out to the retailers. Place an order at your local nursery and you will be notified when your plants arrive. Good luck with all the above and bring on the cooler months.