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July is a splendid month. Although Summer is now in full swing, it’s still early enough in the Season to look forward to more days of sunshine and making the most of the garden, now looking at its flowering best. As usual, there is also plenty to do in between some lazy, sunny afternoons. Much of it will be a continuation of what you started in June, including deep watering and maintaining perennials and climbers, but there are some specific July jobs that you may want to take on, including some pleasurable sowing for the future, as well as fruit tree pruning to maximise home-grown produce.
Sowing the seeds of Summer
With plenty of sunshine and long days, there are a whole host of seeds that can be sown outdoors during July including Forget-Me-Nots, Delphiniums, Campanula, Coreopsis, Myosotis, Zinnias, Penstemon and Pansy. Biennial Foxgloves and Wallflowers can also be grown from seed this month.
The key to this ‘direct sowing’ method is to clear the area of any weeds and break the soil down into the finest particles possible before enriching with compost and a slow release plant food such as our recommended organic variety from Viano. Next water thoroughly and allow the moisture to penetrate sufficiently into the soil. Using a stick or a cane, you will then need to make a shallow drill to the depth indicated on the seed packet. If this indentation reveals soil that is still dry, just water again thoroughly and repeat the process. The final step is to carefully brush the oil back over the furrow while trying not to disturb the seeds. Some floweing seeds such as Forget-Me-Not can be ‘broadcast sown’ as they would be naturally from self-seeding plants, in which case you can simply scatter them by hand in a satisfying rhythmic arc.
While growing from seed can be a hit and miss affair, the reward of seeing your green shoots emerging from the soil, and eventually becoming a display of delightful Delphiniums, for example, is well worth the occasional ‘no show’. Remember, no guts, no glory!
The Fruits of July Pruning
Whether you have apple, pear or plum, get your pruners or secateurs at the ready as July is the perfect time to prune your fruit trees. If they are mature, this can be done with confidence as long as you think through the cuts beforehand. The result will ne a shapely tree, likely to produce more fruit while reducing unwanted shade, especially in small gardens.
Air and light are good for fruit trees and so this naturally means that creating more of both when green foliage is at its height is a great plan. First, newly-grown longer ‘lead shoots’ can be shortened by up to half, cutting back to just before a leaf in order to promote side shoots. Then you can deal more vigorously with the existing side shoots by taking them back, leaving at least three buds intact which will form fruit-bearing spurs.
There are a couple of watch outs. Try not to cut off branches that already have formed fruit, however small, and it’s always a good idea to rinse off pruners with an anti-bacterial liquid or a bleach solution to ensure that you don’t pass any fungus or disease onto the next tree.
"Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August" claimed the author, Jenny Hann. We hope your July really does match this claim and that you have the time to celebrate the garden, as well as undertaking a few of the timely tasks listed below that should make the pleasure of it even greater. Happy gardening!
Deadhead bedding plants and perennials to maximise the potential for re-flowering
Maintain the deep watering of your plants, aiming to give them a long drink, directly at the roots, rather than sprinkling lightly across borders. Consider an irrigation system if you are planning an annual holiday this month.
Use an extra layer of mulch around plants to help retain moisture across the remainder of Summer, while keeping terracotta pots damp to support your watering regime
When perennials or hanging basket plants are starting to look faded, cut them back and use suitable feed to give the latter a mid-Summer boost. We particularly like Growchar Organic Fertiliser available at Sarah Raven
Continue to dead head roses and train climbing growth, cutting back unwanted shoots on your favourite Jasmine, Clematis or Honeysuckle
Prolific and untamed growth on Wisteria can also be pruned, as long as you keep a 2-3 inch length from a main branch with any new stems
Take advantage of the heat and light by scattering Summer seeds such as Delphiniums, Forget-Me-Nots and Delphiniums
As stubborn weeds such as bindweed and ground elder now have maximum leaf cover, think about treating them with an organic product such as RHS Natural Weedkiller which has been voted a ‘Recommended organic garden product’ by The Times
As it starts to get hotter, think about protecting the lawn with responsible watering at night, ideally using water from a butt or sustainable source
July is the month when you are best to give the lawn a Summer feed to keep it lush and healthy as it enters the height of its growing phase. We have an excellent range of fertiliser to suit your particular lawn type, all organic, pet friendly and again made by one of our favourite brands, Viano
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