Gardening with Lily Summerleaze

Would you like to contribute to this section too or ask Lily a question?

August 2020

Keep deadheading flowering plants. Water only when necessary. Too little and too often encourages shallow roots. A lot given less often encourages the roots to go deep looking for moisture. Water around the roots and not the leaves.

Salad crops can still be sown such as mixed lettuce leaves, rocket and lamb’s lettuce.

Lamb’s lettuce is a great crop for overwintering in a polytunnel or under cloches. It can be sown in pots or patio containers. Water well if in pots or containers. This is one crop you don’t allow to dry out.

There are several crops that you can start off now in your vegetable patch and which will be ready to eat in the spring. These include Swiss chard and rainbow chard. Sown now they will crop all next year and then give a final harvest in the following spring.

Bulb onions, so useful in so many dishes, can be sown now for harvesting next year. It is important to choose the right variety such as ‘Senshu Yellow’. Onion sets can be started off next month.

July 2020

 JULY in your garden

Through the summer months you will need to dead head your flowers. All this means is that once a flower has bloomed and starts to fade you snip it off with some sharp secateurs. By doing this you prolong the flowering time of the plant. After all once a plant has set seed its work is done; the next generation is on the way and the plant will not produce anymore flower buds. As your plants are working so hard to produce buds it is really worth giving them a feed every two weeks or so. And if it hasn’t rained for a while then watering would be good as well. When it comes to watering a plant, water down by the roots where the main stem enters the ground. Don’t as some folk do, water the leaves. Absolutely no good for the plant at all. It leaves the plant thirsty and there’s a risk of the leaves scorching if the day is very hot. Watering either first thing in the morning or late in the evening. I favour first thing in the morning, as in around half past six! Later in the morning and the sun may be too strong. Watering late in the evening means you risk inviting slugs and snails to a party. Feasting on your plants. Prevention is much better than cure.  However, if you see a plant wilting whatever time of the day it is and you can see the soil or compost is dry then water it. Don’t make it wait.

Towards the end of the summer your dahlias should be well into flowering. They can be dead headed just like any other flowering plant. One of the prettiest dahlias is Bishop’s Children. This dahlia reaches about three feet in height and a foot wide. It has dark leaves, so dark that sometimes they seem to br black. The flowers come in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and purple. If you have never grown dahlias, then Bishops Children is a good one for a first try.

Buy a packet of seeds in the spring and get going. They will need some tlc but they are worth it! And because they are a single flowered variety they are fantastic for pollinators. Bees, butterflies and other insects have easy access to the flowers’ pollen and nectar.

Sam asks what’s the best way to deal with slugs and snails? Well, the best way is any natural way. Beetles, birds, centipedes, slow worms all enjoy munching on slugs and snails. Try border control with copper tape as slugs don’t like crawling across it. Or sheep’s wool, or eggshells or slug collars. All effective in reducing slug and snail damage. Don’t use the pellets as you run the risk of killing the predators as well and really it isn’t worth that risk in my opinion. My preferred method is to remove any offending slugs and snails to an overgrown area in the garden; somewhere the predators can find them.

June 2020

Your Garden in June

  1. Tomato plants need feeding weekly with a high potash fertiliser which encourages flowers and fruit development.
  2. Sow some basil seeds in pots or trays.
  3. Sow pak choi in small pots ready to plant out in July.
  4. Cucumbers like to climb and ramble around so give them plenty of support. Tie in new stems.
  5. Keep weeds under control as they compete with your vegetable and flower plants for water and nutrients.
  6. Sow salads in pots and containers. Sow mixed leaves seeds. Pick the leaves again and again.
  7. Grow mustard and cress in trays on your kitchen windowsill.
  8. Harvest potatoes. Tubers planted in February and early March will be ready to harvest from the end of May into June. The potatoes should be harvested while they are small and tender.
  9. Plant some more potatoes. If you want to enjoy new potatoes all through the summer and into the autumn the secret is to plant little and often. Plant a couple of pots every few weeks with one tuber per ten litre pot.
  10. Last of all, enjoy being in your garden!