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Sumer is icumen in! 30 Jun 2024 The rain has stopped ...

At last we’ve had a good week to actually sit in the garden and enjoy it, though as I write this the grey has returned, at least temporarily. With the long days and high ultra-violet levels, plants are now growing fast, so do remember to keep watering and feeding regularly. Foliar feeds are particularly easy to apply, and attachments can be bought for using these when watering by hosepipe (I trust Thames Water will not dare to start muttering about a hosepipe ban in the near future).

We are all rightly encouraged to use pesticides as little as possible, if at all, but bugs and other beasties are also particularly rampant now. Dry weather won’t stop the slugs and snails (I use organic pellets, which do not harm other wildlife, nor pets, nor children), and lily beetle will also be about (I only grow lilies in pots, so a systemic spray is easy to apply – to be sure no pollinators nor other useful creatures are in the vicinity, spray early in the morning or late in the evening). All plants in pots need protection from vine weevil, so it’s well worth investing in a chemical control for this, applied by watering can.

If you grow lots of annuals, either from seed or bought as plugs or small plants, keep dead-heading as the flowers fade – all annuals live for one thing, to set seed: prevent that, and they’ll keep trying for a long time. This also applies to tender perennials like dahlias, begonias, and pelargoniums. I kept most of mine going from last year, and, with cold, damp conditions until recently, they’ve been very slow to get moving again this season – as is so often the case for a gardener, I live in hope. One plant I know will never let me down in this respect is alstroemeria, the Peruvian Lily, which sadly  gets a bad press from some, being considered “invasive”: I beg to differ. Some years ago I bought three plants of the variety “Indian Summer” as fillers in a sparsely-planted sunny bed. They are very tough and flower for months, as well as being a wonderful colour combination of red, orange, pink, and yellow. There are nearly 200 varieties of this plant available, with a wide colour range from white, through yellow, orange, and red, to lavender and purple. If picked for the house, they last in water for a good ten days (don’t cut the stem as you would with most flowers, just pull it from the base of the plant – that way it will shoot again and again: one mild year I was still picking these in December). Furthermore, they are not invasive in the least.

No vegetable grower needs me to remind them that everything is going crazy: long days and mild nights see to that, as long as, again, you remember to water. The RHS web-site has its usual excellent advice for this month: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/in-month/july

I notice with interest that it is already time to be sowing seed for hardy spring vegetables like turnips and fennel.

Here’s to more sunny days and plenty of relaxing respite for all gardeners (automatic watering systems are a wonderful idea …).

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