Midsummer is here at last, the Pimm’s is on ice, your barbie’s all fired up and ready to go, and it’s time to party. But before you sit back and relax, make your garden the envy of the neighbourhood with our 7 quick fix tips to keep your blooms blooming, crops cropping and patio polished...
1. As your flowers start to fade, take a sharp pair of secateurs or gardening scissors, and nip out the blooms just above the set of leaves or side stem below the flowers. This keeps the plant neat but also encourages it to produce more flowers rather than putting its energy into setting seeds.
2. If your borders are flagging and in need of a boost, fill the gaps with tall pots of colourful annuals, such as these glorious begonias, which are perfect for sun or shade.
3. You may have noticed that your fruit trees have recently shed some of the smaller fruits. Known as the ‘June drop’, this is a nature’s way of weeding out the stragglers. However, after the ‘drop’ it’s a good idea to also nip out one or two of the small or damaged fruits that remain in each cluster to ensure that those you leave on the tree have the best chance of maturing into large, sweet treats.
4. If the plants in your borders have pale leaves or fewer flowers than usual, they may need a little pick-me-up. Try applying a liquid fertilizer, such as Miracle Gro All Purpose Liquid Plant Food, and they should perk up after a week or so.
5. Patios can look a bit grubby come July. Use a hard bristle broom to sweep yours clear of debris, or, if it still looks mucky, hire or buy a power jet cleaner to dig out the dirt, but take care not to dislodge the grouting and check that your paving or deck will not suffer any damage by testing out a small area first.
6. Keep slugs and snails at bay without using chemicals. Try piling sand and grit around the stems of vulnerable plants, or surround pots with copper tape, which gives the little beasts a mild electric shock that soon teaches them to stay away. Alternatively, check out Vitax’s ‘Slug Gone’ – it’s made from wool pellets which slugs find difficult to traverse, and seems to be doing the trick around my lettuces (above).
7. Containers dry out quickly in hot, dry conditions, but you’ll find your pots can remain dry even after it’s rained, so water them regularly whatever the weather throughout the summer. Use a soft spray on a hose, or fix a rose to your watering can, and focus the water on the compost, rather than the leaves or flowers. Give your plants a good, long soak, and you won’t have to water again for a couple of days.
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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert
View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert