Down to earth advice for Derbyshire’s Gardeners - July

At this time of year lawns can take heavy punishment and a little time spent on maintenance can pay big dividends. If there is any moss in the lawn this can be removed with a lawn rake to allow more light in to the base, also pull out any perennial weeds. Then apply a proprietary brand of lawn fertiliser; carefully follow the directions on the box with regard to application. During dry spells use a sprinkler for a few hours every week to freshen up the lawn, hose pipe ban permitting. This will then give you a lawn to be proud of right into the autumn.

Rock plants (Alpines) and herbaceous perennials can be grown from seed at this time of year, most types are relatively easy to grow and seeds are cheap. You can also root cuttings, taken from established plants, but this is perhaps best left to the more experienced.

Soft fruit is in season and delicious at this time of the year; unfortunately the birds seem to think the same. A readily available bird-scarer, which can be hung in surrounding trees, are the free CD disks which daily pop through the letter box. These reflect the light and flash in the breeze and can be very effective.

July is the time to plant out your late cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprout, and swedes and turnips raised from seed in plug trays or bought from a reputable supplier. There’s still time for salad leaves as well, as they grow really quickly in warm ground with plenty of water applied if needed. Prepare the ground well with lime added if necessary, remember that vegetable plants are gross feeders, so mix plenty of feed into the soil at least 2 weeks before planting or sowing. Cabbage root fly lay their eggs close to the stem of brassicas, then the hatching maggots eat their way down to the roots and by eating the roots destroy the plant. Prevent this by putting a plastic disk round the stem at planting time.

Its time to harvest shallots, onions and garlic now and all of these store very successfully.

Roses benefit from removing all the flowers that are finished and by doing so will give a second flush in 4-6 weeks time. Similarly with sweet peas, if you allow them to produce seed pods the plant will not be able to produce more flowers, instead using all its energy to produce seeds. Also remove any flower buds that are failing to open and rotting, these buds can harbour disease.

In the greenhouse or conservatory, temperatures can rise rapidly at this time of the year, so shading should be introduced. There are many types of shading materials available at retail outlets, and are easy to fit. You can also buy automatic devices to open the glasshouse windows if you are out at work, thermostatically controlled fans are also available. 


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