July

Plant your winter garden NOW! Sow carrots, beets, rutabagas, turnips, and winter radishes that you want to eat over the winter. Continue to make regular sowings of salad crops to see you into the autumn. Check out West Coast Seeds’ Winter Planting Guide to learn what to plant now for fall and winter harvesting. September, when many new gardeners start to think about winter veggies, is too late. Click here for West Coast Seeds full list of what to plant in July.

Harvest garlic if you haven’t already done so. Let the bulbs cure for up to 2 weeks out of direct sunlight in a warm place with good air circulation. Shake off the excess soil and store unwashed.

Keep your plants well watered to avoid them becoming stressed and susceptible to pests and diseases. Even if the weather turns cool and cloudy, dig down into the soil. You may be surprised to find dry soil just under the surface where the roots are. Water deeply: the golden rule is ‘soak not splash’, giving plants an occasional thorough soaking rather than little and often.

Mulch! Try to keep all bare soil covered either with plants or use mulches on the surface to keep moisture in. Grass clippings can be piled onto beds, several inches thick. Don’t cover young seedlings (apart from weeds) and don’t pile up too close to plant stems.

Check compost bins from time to time. If the contents appear too dry, add some water and ‘wet’ waste, such as kitchen peelings and grass clippings. Take the opportunity to turn the contents too, this will help to aerate it and activate the bacteria that help to decompose all your waste into lovely rich, dark humus to put back on the garden.

Spend some time having a good tidy up, deadheading and cutting back of spent flowering shoots and seed heads. Deadheading many plants will encourage them to flower again.

Water baskets and small containers daily, even during rain! Water bounces off a leaf canopy, and, even in a downpour, little rain will reach the potting compost. Moist soil takes in water more readily than dry soil.

Don’t cut your lawn too short, it will take the hot dry weather much better if it is a little longer.

Make sure your greenhouse is well ventilated and provide shade if necessary. The summer sun will scorch tender leaves, and lack of air flow will allow humidity to increase, a sure way to encourage fungal diseases such as botrytis.

Make sure plants don’t go short of nutrients – a stressed plant is more likely to succumb to pest or disease attack. Fertilize with organic fertilizer!

Keep your pond topped up in hot weather and make sure you have oxygenating plants in your pond so creatures can breath. Rake out any blanket weed that has formed, make sure you leave it by the side of the pond for a couple of days, so any creatures caught in it can return to the water.

Take cuttings from hardy Fuchsias, particularly if you have bought a beautiful specimen. These plants are very easy to propagate from cuttings. Choose a non-flowering stem and simply cut below a node (leaf joint), strip off all the lower leaves except the top tip and put in a 5 to 7 cm pot with compost or sterilized soil, place in a shady spot and 4-6 weeks later, pot up.