Just in case you are thinking “I know exactly what I’m going to do: lie on my sun-lounger in the sun and do nothing”, that wasn’t what we meant by the headline. But you’re absolutely right. Summer is the time for lying in the sun doing nothing but enjoying our pristine lawns, flowerbeds, shrubs, and trees, and picking the fruits of our labours earlier in the year.
However, there are still gardening jobs that need to be done before we can take that well-earned rest. In the vegetable plot it’s time to plant out tomatoes, marrows, and sweetcorn, now that the threat of frost has passed. As you plant them, remove some of the soil around them to make a small dip: this helps when watering, as the water will sink in around the plant rather than spreading elsewhere. When watering any plants give them a good soak: too many people give plants a quick spray with a hand-held spray-gun which achieves little more than wetting the leaves.
Harvest Lettuce And Radish Crops
You can sow runner beans directly in the ground if you haven’t already done so. Keep harvesting lettuce and radish crops and don’t forget to sow some more every couple of weeks. When planting out cabbages be sure to use cabbage collars to protect against cabbage root fly. Start to harvest early potatoes, and plant out main-crop potatoes up until the end of July. When planting out leeks use a pole to push a hole about 8” – 10” deep in the soil: trim off the leek roots leaving about an inch of root on each plant and plant to the bottom of the hole. Fill each hole with water. By planting deeply like this you will save having to keep earthing the plants up as they grow. Plant out annual summer bedding plants.
If onion and garlic leaves are beginning to yellow it means that they are nearly ready to harvest. In order to really ripen them off they can be lifted and placed on a bench or elsewhere off the ground in full sun. The leaves on daffodils grown for cutting should be left on the plants for six weeks after flowering in order for them to fully benefit the bulb for next year: after this they can be cut down.
Nip Out Side-Shoots Of Greenhouse Tomatoes
Tomatoes grown in the greenhouse border should have side-shoots nipped out as they emerge: keep tying the plants into the canes as they grow. You can pinch out the tops when the plants reach the greenhouse roof and let them set up to five trusses of fruit each. Apply shade paint to the greenhouse to prevent over-heating on sunny days and damp down the greenhouse floor on hot days, remembering to open the windows and door in the morning and close them again at night.
When the weather is hot, water hanging baskets and other small containers every day. Protect the developing fruits on blackberries and raspberries with netting if you don’t want to let the local bird population have them all. Continue to hoe around all plants in the veg plot, remembering the old adage that the best time to hoe is before you see any weeds.
Keep Cutting Sweet Peas
If you are growing sweet peas for cutting, keep cutting them as they come into flower. Once they really get going you can cut them every other day which will encourage further flowering – and nothing beats the smell of fresh sweet peas in the house. Keep tying them into their canes as the plants grow. The same thing applies to climbing plants such as clematis and honeysuckle. Tie in any tall or floppy perennial plants to stakes. Dead-head repeat-flowering roses. Prune out overcrowded stems of clematis montana when it has finished flowering. Bluebells and snowdrops can be lifted and divided when the leaves start to turn yellow.
Keep mowing the lawn, but in hot dry weather set the mower blades one setting higher. Keep watering the lawn when the weather is having a long dry spell, especially if it is a new lawn. Feed with a lawn fertiliser and use a lawn weed-killer if necessary.
Have you done all that?
If you have, you have earned your reward. Get the sun-lounger out, lie in the sun, and perhaps have a glass or two of Pinot Noir.