Not So Lazy Summer Days

Not So Lazy Summer Days

June sees a climax of sorts. 21st of June will be the longest day of the year which is reflected in the exuberance of growth and flower that plants put on at this time of year. This also means that weeds seem to pop up from thin air. Annual willowherb is perhaps my greatest foe. It seems to spring
up where once there was not a sign and be ready to flower and set seed almost instantly. On fine and dry days it is satisfying to get out with the
hoe and cut these renegades down to size. This works well for other annuals too and can even be a short term fix for nasty perennials such as dandelions, docks and your garden nettles. Repeated action will often weaken even those thugs but they are best forked out and dispatched to the bin as soon as possible. (Take care around giant hogweed though as the sap can blister the skin and cause extreme pain if it comes into contact with the eyes).

Strawberries are coming into fruit now and it is vital to use some form of crop protection if you have not already done so. A simple bird scarer will
do if you have nothing else but the best defence is a light net place either directly on top of the plants or supported by garden canes topped with plant pots. This will help keep birds away but you need to be vigilant to stop slugs and snails turning fruit into sticky mush. Keeping the fruit dry and above the soil also helps prevent spoiling especially after rain. It is traditional to put straw around the plants to stop the rain splashing them
with mud. If you have early varieties then it’s probably too late but you could still get away with it for late fruiting ones.

Greenhouses can be magnets for pests at this time especially red spider mite. Try to keep the humidity up to help prevent these little critters from
moving in. Heavy infestations are often marked by thin silvery ‘webs’. Affected plants lack vigorous and can take on a mottled appearance on the
leaves. Splashing plenty of water around will help pollinate glass house tomatoes by moving pollen grains from one flower to another. Tender plants such as dahlias can be moved to their summer homes now. Don’t forget to stake tall plants as it will be that much harder when everything
has grown up around them. You can also support any tall flowering plants such as delphiniums and hollyhocks which can be reduced to a collapsed heap by a heavy summer shower.

Enjoy the scent of roses, especially the summer flowering varieties. If you spray then keep spraying as flowering takes up a lot of energy which can
leave them vulnerable to a host of problems including blackspot, rust and mildew. Fungal problems are not only confined to roses. Sweet peas are prone to mildew so try to keep water off of the foliage whilst giving them a plentiful supply at the root. I like to use soaker hose or porous pipe which delivers a trickle of water which soaks deeply at the root. This also wastes less water as less is lost on dry days to evaporation.

Plant out tender veg now including pumpkins, cucumbers, squashes, courgettes, runner beans, garden tomatoes and marrows. If after all that you
still have time then you can look up some recipes using the first broad beans. Enjoying the fruits of your labours will make all that hard work


Ross Underwood