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Look after summer produce

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Tuesday, 25th July 2023, 09:00

It has been a very hot summer so far after a cold, late spring. These extreme temperatures put stress on plants and we have to try our best to keep them healthy to be able to withstand the climate.

I’m thinking of my Camellia, which is many years old and grown in the shade, that lost all its leaves in June with stress because of the heat. It was watered, but the actual temperature was just too much for it to cope with!

Create new strawberry plants

Peg down the runners of strawberries to create new plants either in the ground or into small pots of potting compost, such as John Innes No.1. Peg them down using u-shaped bits of wire – cutting up wire coat hangers works well. Keep them watered and, when they have rooted, cut the stem holding them to the parent plant and replant in a newly prepared strawberry bed.

Now is the time to prune established fruit cordons, espaliers and fans to help restrict growth, maintain the shape of the tree and promote next year’s fruiting spurs. With clean, sharp secateurs shorten new shoots growing from the trunk or main stems to three leaves. Prune side shoots growing from established lateral branches to one leaf. Ordinary fruit trees are pruned in the dormant season.

If you want some spinach to ‘overwinter’, late August is the time to sow it. Do this in a spot in full sun and apply a general fertiliser like Growmore before sowing (100g per square metre) to give it a good start. Follow the directions on the packet for distances and other instructions.

Keep plants well-watered

Keep your tomatoes and peppers consistently moist throughout the growing season or the roots won’t absorb nutrients properly and can get blossom end rot (light brown spots appear at the flower end of the fruit). Only apply a liquid fertiliser when the soil is moist.
A nice job to do on a balmy summer evening is deadheading flowers, which prolongs the flowering potential of roses, dahlias, delphiniums, petunias and other plants in your hanging baskets. This can easily be done with a glass of cold wine in hand!

Get ahead for winter

Plant ‘Paperwhite’ narcissi bulbs for winter indoor displays. I know, it is strange to think of winter already but by starting now you will be ahead of the game. If your container has no drainage holes, use special bulb fibre.

Plant the bulbs close together with the tips just showing and keep in a cool dark place for 8-12 weeks while the roots develop. It is a nice idea to find shallow, old-fashioned vegetable dishes from charity shops to give them a vintage look.

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