Your Garden in July

By John Dunster

When looking for extra growing space often overlooked is that provided by walls.   Greening up walls not only looks nice but can also provide thermal insulation and cover for wildlife.   Climbers such as Wisteria and Clematis will quickly cover a wall but will require support to cling to, while others such as Virginia Creeper are self supporting.   It is unlikely that clinging plants will damage walls unless they are in a fragile state especially check that on older properties they are in good condition and the mortar is sound.    Wall shrubs such as Euonymus Japonicus will fan out without any support but Pyracantha is better trained onto wire supports.   Containers such as half baskets, troughs or window boxes also make use of vertical space

Soil next to walls can be very dry, so plant at least 12ins. away from the base with stems angled towards the wall.    A few other things to watch out for; some climbers need to be kept in check with regular pruning; keep climbing plants away from drains and rooflines.   Wisteria for example has long whippy stems that search into roof spaces, these need pruning at this time of the year and again in late winter.

Runner Beans

To get the best from your runner beans keep picking every two to three days before the pods are allowed to swell up.   In dry weather water plants generously at the base two to three times per week.   Plant breeders have combined self-pollination of French Beans with the flavour of runner beans producing cultivars that are better able to cope periods of dry weather, such varieties are ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Snowstorm’.    Also thinking ahead for next year prepare the soil in the autumn by adding plenty of well-rotted manure.   Get ahead by germinating beans in pots in early May for planting out after the threat of frost has passed.   If poor pollination is a problem plant annuals nearby to attract pollinators.

Watering

Water is a limited valuable resource so use it wisely when watering plants.   Those in containers and hanging baskets are better watered to just moisten the compost each day.   Save water by watering plants correctly, established plants in borders generally do not need watering except during prolonged drought, so concentrate on newly planted areas, using a watering can directing the water to the base of the plant, avoid using a hose with a spray.   Avoid watering lawns, they may not look very attractive when brown but will soon recover after rainfall.   Vegetables like potatoes may need watering during dry periods, this will probably need the use of a hose with a spray.

Feeding Container Plants

Anything growing in containers will need regular weekly feeding with a high potash feed.   Allocate the same day each week (called feeding day).    Avoid overfeeding and follow the maker’s instructions as too much feed will only encourage lush growth that will be perfect for aphids and fungi or simply wasted as the plant will not be able to absorb it..

Routine Tasks

Unless you need to collect the seed keep deadheading bedding and herbaceous perennials to extend the flowering period, most importantly dahlias and roses,

Start to divide and replant bearded irises, leaving the rhizomes above the soil, the roots will grow from beneath    Before replanting trim the foliage to 3-4ins, this will reduce water loss while the plant is recovering.

Remove side shoots from cordon tomatoes but be careful to leave the upper shoot at the top of the plant until it has produced seven trusses, then it can be cut off.

Inspect brassicas regularly for cabbage white caterpillars, even if you have netted them butterflies can often find a way in.

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