Growing Your Own July 2017
"Flaming June" really has been here this year — as we write the temperature is in the mid 20s and we haven't seen any rain for well over a week. The new annual display at the War Memorial and the High Street displays are proving a challenge to keep watered, but, thanks to our Curry Rivel in Bloom volunteers, the plants are coping with the weather. From the comments we've received when working on these projects we have reason to believe that, as a community we are very pleased with the results. More about that elsewhere!
During this dry period, and if we get similar weather in July, lawns will need lot of watering -however, you can let them go brown as they will recover. Early flowering herbaceous plants will need to be cut back and dead heading of these and of annuals grown from seed is vital to extend flowering. Watch out for any fungal infections and burn any infected material. Plants such as dahlias, chrysanths and gladioli will be growing fast and stems need support; disbud some stems to get longer stems and better flowers. With chrysanths, if you can bear to do so, reduce the number of shoots per plant to 5, except pompom and spray types. A balanced feed in the middle of the month will be advantageous too. Sweet peas need feeding with liquid feed up to three times this month and tendrils should be pinched out as you tie they in for support.
Biennials such as wallflowers and Sweet William can be sown in their flowering position, ready for next year this month.Garden pools may need topping up and greenhouses may need to be damped down if the hot weather continues.
There should be soft fruit to pick and enjoy, and heavily cropping branches of apples, pears and plums may need support, as well as thinning of the fruit. (this is a "do as we say, not as we do" piece of advice as we can never bear to remove any fruit before we take it to eat!) Prune fruit trees after picking, and cut down old raspberry canes after picking, removing weak new shoots as you go. Tidy strawberry beds and throw away plants that have given three crops — replace them with runners that you potted up previously. By now you are hopefully harvesting lots of crops — excess peas and beans of all types can be blanched and frozen, whereas root vegetables are best left in the ground until you ready to eat them. By the end of the month you may be lucky enough to experience the unbeatable taste sensation of sweet corn on your plate minutes after picking there's not much better than this! Complete planting out of winter vegetables and pinch out side shoots of tomato plants. Water shallow-rooted crops and start to lift and store onions. If you are off on holiday cut the lawn before you go, check plant ties and leave the hose ready for your kind neighbour to use to water for you if necessary. Ask them nicely to pick over your sweet peas and vegetables for you — this means they get the produce and you get your plants stimulated to produce more so its' a win-win situation! If you are not going away, find time to relax and enjoy your garden!
Sylvia and Peter Goodenough
Drayton Village Hall
St Andrews Church