On this page we hope to keep you up to date with what to do in the garden throughout the year.
This is the month when the hoe is in the hand more than anything else, for the weeds will be trying to beat the keen gardener. Water from the water butt will need to be dispensed throughout the month as the sun lifts it out of the ground, so depriving the plants of nourishment. Mulch from the compost heap should be put round the plants and shrubs that need to be kept moist. Keep an eye out for pests and use non chemical remedies where possible.
Those beds that are not planted with labour saving plants such as perennials and shrubs should be planted out as quickly as possible. Perennial plants, such as lupins and delphiniums, where the seeds are not being left for decoration or seeds for the birds, should be cut down and tidied up as the flowers fade. The thrifty can place plastic bags over selected seed heads for next year's seeds. Now is the time to see plants that have failed and these should be removed. Feed the roses and sweet peas, tidying them up where necessary and giving them a feed of liquid manure.
Bulbs that are not to be lifted should be left the die down and the tops removed later in the month.
SEEDS TO SOW
Sow biennials and perennials, although some of the seeds dropped by annuals will be well on their way to the next generation by now, so get them in if they come from a packet.
Plants purchased from the nursery or raised in a frame or greenhouse should be planted out, and plants that have finished flowering should be divided and planted in other areas.
Cuttings should be raised in a small plot kept for this purpose. Try sweet williams and double wallowers for next spring. This seems a long way off but the autumn will soon be with us.
Thin out seedlings and stake carnations, dahlias and sweetpeas.
Under glass gardening will need strict attention as some unwanted insects will need to be sprayed to prevent damage to plants. Green houses will need shading in hot sunny weather; those with vines and other creeping plants will have the job done for them, but, whatever way it's done, the floor will need to be kept damp to keep the atmosphere moist. The artificial heat will be off by now and should be controlled by thermostat in case the weather turns cold. I have known snow in June! Azaleas and camellias will thrive in the damp conditions. Cleanliness is essential in enclosed glass and this can be achieved with paint or fumigating washes. Repairs always help to prevent disease entering and affecting the plants.
Seeds such as cyclamen and various rock plants can be sown for later planting outdoors, as well as things like candytuft and campanulas for autumn planting. Cuttings from verbena can be started in a cold frame.
Potting up old plants to give them more root space is something that can be done to things like Begonias that were shown in February. Carnations will need bigger pots to allow them to flower properly.
We now start to see the fruits of our labours with the first asparagus being harvested. Broad beans will produce their main crop and will produce more if encouraged with water. Cauliflowers should be given a little liquid manure. Lettuces will start to make leaf and should be given water to prevent them running to seed. Why not try a mushroom bed outdoors for a crop in August? Remember that when the peas start to produce mature pods they should be picked and, hey presto, more will be produced. Potatoes may still need earthing up, but it's really the month to start gathering the crop and replacing with winter turnips or late celery. Do not forget to support the runner beans. If you have seakale give them a sprinkling of salt. Shallots and autumn sown onions should be dressed with a sprinkle of nitrate of soda, about 2 oz to the square yard. Any marrows planted out last month should be stopped.
SEEDS TO SOW
Sow the last of the beans for this year. Cucumbers may be sown on ridges out doors. Lettuce should be sown fortnightly for a succession of crops. Mustard and cress, peas, radishes, spinach and swedes can be sown. The main sowing of turnips should be put in.
Plant out broccoli, cauliflowers and celery, but choose a period when the soil is moist and rain is in the air. Leeks, ridge cucumbers and savoy cabbage for October should be planted out. If you do not have any, pop up to the nearest nursery. Those fortunate enough to have a warm area in their garden may like to try outdoor tomatoes. If you have forgotten to plant a marrow there is still time.
If your sowings have been successful you will need to thin out the main crops of carrots, beetroots and onions.
Now is the time to start mulching trees and bushes to conserve the moisture. Tidy up the untidy vigorous growth by cutting back. Over laden trees may need support. If mildew is seen spray with liver of sulphur solution. Greenfly will appear so take the appropriate action. You may need to throw nets over the cherry trees and fruiting shrubs to prevent the birds getting the fruit first. Keep a look out for caterpillars on currant and gooseberry bushes and spray with lime water if needed. Gooseberries will start to ripen so only pick those that suit the taste; hard to start with and softer later. If you have a grapevine it may need unwanted wood removed and leading shoots tied to a support. New loganberries may be obtained by layering the existing bushes. Peaches and apricots may need some thinning. Remove the weak or unwanted canes from raspberries. Strawberries should have regular watering and the runners pinned to their new position.
TREES AND SHRUBS
Newly planted trees may need some help so spray the foliage with water, especially evergreens, in very hot or dry weather. Tidy up the rhododendrons and other plants by removing unsightly seed heads, unless you prefer to leave them for decoration and food for the birds. Seize the opportunity to propagate shrubs that that you would like to see in other parts of the garden.
Remember, the trick of working in the garden is little and often and do not do too much at one time, especially as you grow older. Enjoy sitting in the garden and admiring the results of your labours.