Whether it's a bleak December or the more mild weather we are becoming used to, you can still spend useful time in the garden. David Coton suggests the jobs that can occupy the shortening days.
After all the dry hot weather that much of the country has experienced over the last few weeks, the lavender in David Coton's garden is at its most colourful and scented, he's cutting the flowerheads to make lavender biscuits or drying them for pot pourri. Here are more jobs you can do in the garden during July.
Ensure that your greenhouse does not overheat by keeping the door and windows open during hot days to create a through draught. Automatic window and louvre openers will help if you go on holiday. Either fit blinds or apply shading paint to the glazing to shade your plants from intense sunlight.
Water is a limited resource so recycle grey water from the bath and kitchen, and collect any that rainwater that falls in a butt. Most plants prefer a steady supply of water or bolting and ailments such as tomato blossom end rot may occur.
Make sure your thirsty crops such as runner beans are getting the correct amount of water especially during dry weather. 1-2 gallons per sq yd twice a week is recommended. Spray the beans to encourage pollination.
Don't ease up on weeding, they compete for moisture with other plants. Hoe just underneath the soil surface in the morning on a dry day.
If you are going on holiday, install an automatic irrigation system and apply mulch around plants to retain moisture.
Deadhead summer bedding regularly so that all the plants' energy goes into making new flowers. This, together with regular watering and a high potash feed, will maximise the blooms and keep the plants healthy.
Use shears to cut back geraniums and you'll be rewarded with a second show of flowers.
Try to propagate carnations by layering i.e. choose a young side shoot, remove the lower leaves and make a cut into the stem making an incision about an inch long. Peg into adjacent soil that should be prepared with sharp sand and compost. Keep moist and roots will form after about six weeks.
Plant out cabbages, cauliflowers and brussels sprouts in rich moisture retentive soils between 6.5– 7.0 pH, adding lime if necessary, taking care not to damage the roots. Make sure the cauliflowers are viable i.e. have a central bud. To guard against cabbage root fly use a brassica collar and never plant brassicas in the same place two years in succession.
When early crops are harvested from the vegetable plot, and to fill in the space between winter brassicas, sow quick growing salad leaves or winter vegetables. Crops that can still be sown include carrots, french beans, peas and turnips together with salad ingredients such as lettuce, radish, rocket. Get the last beetroot sown and regularly lift them when they approach the size of a tennis ball before they taste too earthy.
Bush tomatoes don't need pinching out or staking, but to keep the fruit clean and prevent it from rotting, place some straw underneath to raise it above ground level.
Thin apples, plums and pears. By removing a cluster's weakest fruits, the remaining ones will be much larger and healthier.
When you cut down Broad Beans, keep some of the pods to use as seed next year and leave the roots in the soil for their nitrogen.
Tie in new canes on summer fruiting raspberries and blackberries, cutting the old ones to the ground as soon as the last berries have been harvested. Prune blackcurrents as soon as the fruit is picked.
When strawberries have finished, tidy by removing yellow foliage, straw and unwanted runners. Make sure that you plant some of the runners as strawberry plants need to be replaced every three to four years.
As on average July is the hottest month of the year, Dan Everton will be busy maintaining his pond to keep the water and fish in top condition. He also knows that safety, especially during the school summer holidays, should also be taken seriously.
Children should never be left alone near ponds and water features. However, as every parent knows they can wonder off unattended and that's why safety measures are so important.
If possible fence off the pond, but this might not be practical and children are very inquisitive, so consider using child safety netting. The netting sits on top of the pond unobtrusively and offers great protection but you must make sure that it is anchored effectively.
Increased and more intense sunlight will increase the chances of blanket weed occurring. You can combat this by removing as much as possible by hand and using Barley Straw suspended in the water.
Green water is another problem that arises when there's lots of sunlight. Make sure your UV Clarifier is working to full effect. The UV lamp will need to be at full strength, if it's over 12 months old it should be replaced as the UV output will have diminished.
You should also remove any dead foliage from aquatic plants and water lilies, if they are not removed these will pollute the water when breaking down over time. To reduce the amount of future dead foliage, cut back any marginal plants which have grown out of hand.
As the temperature rises, especially on very hot days, oxygen levels in the pond water will begin to drop, this could lead to problems for aquatic life. Decreased oxygen levels in the water can cause shortened life, fatalities and possibly stress.
To increase the amount of oxygen in the water, either add an air pump to the pond, or create more surface movement. This can be achieved by introducing a fountain or waterfall, or raising the the height of existing features.
Solar air and fountain pumps operate when when the sun is shining and then go off at sunset. As there are no running costs, no wonder these are an increasingly popular option.
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, tips and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2018.
Although gardening activity in February may not be so frenetic as during the summer months, there's still plenty to be done and here at the Garden Centre we are already receiving new stock in readiness for spring which is just around the corner. David Coton suggests the jobs you should be tackling in the garden this month.
Although the days are short and the view from our Garden Centre is frosty and overcast, Andy Taylor suggests various jobs that can be done in the garden during the month of January.
Showcasing young musical talent, this year's Winter Concert at Arthur Terry School was an outstanding success and took place against the stunning backdrop of a Christmas Tree donated by GardenSite.