Gardening in July
YOUR GARDEN IN JULY
Lockdown has led many to rediscover the pleasures of the garden
At the beginning of the year, I looked at some of the predicted gardening trends for 2020, hoping to share some of them with you here. Other events then took over but, just recently, I looked again at those trends and was struck by how relevant many of them turned out to be in these unusual times.
As 2020 began, several experts were predicting that people would become more aware of the impact of gardening on our health and wellbeing. There would be a better understanding of the benefits of plants not just to the planet, but also to individual lives. Certainly, during the recent lockdown, many of us have realised how lucky we are to have an outdoor space, however large or small. We've come to recognise the therapeutic benefits of having somewhere to relax in the fresh air, to nurture plants and grow something beautiful.
'Garden zoning' was another predicted trend, suggesting that people would start to create different areas in their gardens dedicated to certain activities. For example, there may be an entertaining area close to the house, an outdoor room if you like, where you can cook, dine and socialise, whereas elsewhere in the garden there may be a play area, a vegetable patch and even a chill-out zone, where you enjoy the peace and quiet.
During lockdown, we saw how many families were doing exactly this, creating outdoor classrooms and playrooms for home schooling, starting their first veg plot and even installing a new shed to turn an underused corner of the garden into a 'storage zone'. With time on our hands, the opportunities are endless!
When it came to colour in our gardens, the prediction this year was 'the brighter the better' and, from what I've seen, this is certainly being borne out. Plants in full colour are much in demand now that garden centres and nurseries have reopened, with Lavenders, Hydrangeas, Verbena bonariensis and, one of my absolute favourites, Echinacea purpurea, all being snapped up. Rightly so, as plants like these, in flower right now, will add instant wow to your borders.
Remember to water during dry spells, including containers and hanging baskets. Keep deadheading, to prolong the flowering period, and remove the faded heads of Roses, unless you're waiting for the hips. Protect yourself from the sunshine and, in between the routine maintenance, take time to relax and enjoy your July garden.
JULY ON THE VEG PLOT
There are lots of jobs to do in July to keep your veg patch looking at its best and being its most productive.
Plant out leek seedlings, which should be about pencil thickness, from the seed bed or pots grown in the greenhouse. Water thoroughly both the area to be planted and the seedlings the day before and just before transplanting. Using a dibber, make holes 15cm deep and 15cm apart in rows 30cm apart. Drop a baby leek into each hole and water in well; no need to firm in, as the water will draw the soil around the roots.
Remove side shoots from tomatoes. Keep on top of watering and weeding. Sow lettuce in the cool of the day, watering the base of the drill before sowing to cool the area down. Leafy salads do better in shady spots during the hot weather, as the heat can make them taste bitter.
Courgettes, pumpkins, sweetcorn and runner beans can all be planted out now that the weather is warmer, and the risk of frost is past. Also, sow kale in a seed bed for planting out later in the month.
Plant up a hanging basket with tumbling tomatoes, three plants to a basket. Position in a sunny spot away from the wind, water every day and feed often. These will cascade down and produce a crop of mini toms for summer salads.
Why not try to grow some veg on your patio? Fill a pot at least 30cm wide and deep with compost. In a pot this size, you could sow five dwarf French bean seeds, for a delicious crop of beans in late summer. Or try some beetroot, sowing the corky clusters of seeds about 5cm apart over the surface of the pot. These will supply lovely beetroot roots, but you can also harvest some of the leaves too to use in salads. Try sowing early carrots, thinly sprinkled across the pot, for delicate fingerling carrots.
If you have shallower pots, try sowing with cut and come again salad leaves. These are quick to grow and you can harvest little and often for tasty leaves. Or try peas to grow to harvest the pea shoots for salads.
Place the pots in a sunny position and keep evenly watered.
Stay safe and keep gardening.