PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 July 2014
Toby Buckland delivers some sound practical and seasonal advice
June is full of opportunities - not least because there are more daylight hours to get things done in the garden than in any other month of the year. Even if you don’t fancy that you can still busy yourself sitting outside with a glass of wine in the sun!
Roses are blooming at full tilt, the veg is filling out its rows and everything should be heading to a summer peak. There’s still time to plant and make a big difference to your garden – borders and pots filled with summer flowering geraniums and petunias will still give you a full five months of colour; not bad for an afternoon’s work with the trowel.
What to do now
If you’re creating a new border, set out pots on the ground before planting to get the best mix of contrasting foliage, flower shapes and colours so they really stand out. If you’re tackling a large area dig over the lot first, adding compost or manure, as this makes burying the roots easy and quick to do with a trowel afterwards.
Always water pots thoroughly beforehand and soak them again with a watering can once in the ground to settle the soil around the roots. If you want a good-looking lawn, mow it once a week, ideally in different directions to catch in any grass that’s lying flat below the mower blades.
Plants in pots are flowering so fast they need feeding and regular dead-heading to ensure the blooms keep coming. I alternate between high-potash tomato fertilisers and balanced liquid feeds such as Miracle-Gro/Phostrogen to ensure they get all the nutrients they need. This trick also works on hanging baskets, which must be fed now as all the fertiliser in the compost used to plant them back in spring will have been used up. The same goes for tomatoes and strawberries grown in pots or growbags.
Snap off or trim any dead heads on roses and patio plants to keep them coming into bud rather than producing seed. On the veg plot, plant out pot-sown sweetcorn now, in blocks with 25cm between the plants to ensure their tassel-like male flowers drop their pollen onto the cobs below.
Early spuds like ‘Swift’ and ‘Lady Crystal’ should be coming into flower which is a sure sign the crop of tubers is there and ready to be forked from the soil. There’s still time to sow crops for this summer – radishes and salad leaves all come up quickly as do pumpkins, sweetcorn and French and runner beans.
Pruning, training and caring for your roses and climbers is the topic of my coffee morning at the Plant Centre this month. So if you want to know your hybrid teas from your floribundas, come along on 17 or 18 June at 10.15am. Book your place by calling us on 01626 891133.
Plant of the month: Tomato
Nothing beats the resiny scent of a warm greenhouse full of ripening tomatoes on a midsummer’s day. I always grow a few of the big beefsteak toms (such as ‘Costoluto Fiorentino’, pictured) because if the weather’s good, nothing beats them for that Mediterranean holiday flavour, sliced up on a plate with a good sprinkling of salt.
There are beefsteak varieties for both indoors or out – some are bush types and produce all their fruit in one go in late summer, others need to be cordon-trained, which involves taking off the sideshoots as they grow. Cordons are a bit more work but produce their fruit little and often over a longer period.
Enhance the taste by watering in the morning and picking in the afternoon so the flavour has time to concentrate within the fruits. Feed once a week with a dilute tomato fertiliser to boost growth and ensure a succession of toms.