As summer approaches it is wonderful to be able to relax and enjoy the garden.But, early summer is a busy time in the garden. The weather is now reliably warm almost everywhere, and plantings are filling in and looking good.
There are all kinds of critters walking around your garden and landscape just waiting to be discovered, seeds to be collected for next year, and annuals and perennials waiting to be deadheaded. When you cut back fading blooms, the energy will turn from producing seed to producing bigger and more abundant flowers this season. There is an early summer garden what-to-do checklist:
- Make a health and hygiene check three times a week. Top up and check slug pubs and other traps. Retouch sticky bands, note what will soon need harvesting and any specimens or seedlings that need repotting.
- Water all new plants established within the previous twelve months, especially if there has been little rain. Increase frequency of watering for pot-grown plants to at least thrice daily! Feed indoor pot plants with comfrey liquid or seaweed solution weekly.
- Ensure good weed control by hoeing fortnightly or weekly, add extra mulch on top of weeds in mulches.
- Plant out tender plants or move them out for summer.
- Cut the grass at least fortnightly, preferably weekly, returning the clippings, using them for mulches or raking them into rings around trees and bushes. Raise cutting height of mower.
- Spray everything growing with diluted seaweed solution at least once, and anything with deficiency symptoms more often.
- Dead-head roses and cut back most flowering shrubs once flowers die.
- Summer pruning, part one of three: from one third of each plant remove approximately half to three quarters of each new shoot, except for leaders. This applies to all red and white currants, gooseberries and all trained apples and pears. Thin raspberry canes. Prune grapevines back to three or five leaves after a flower truss; if no flower truss by sixth leaf stop anyway and mark for later removal. Tie in new growths of vine and climbing plants.
- Fruit thinning, part one of three: remove every diseased, decayed, damaged, misshapen, distorted or congested fruitlet. This applies to all apples, pears, peaches, apricots, quality plums, dessert grapes, gooseberries and figs, and especially to trained forms. Compost or burn rejected fruitlets immediately (of course usable ones such as the larger gooseberries may be cooked). Protect chosen fruit from birds.
- Take soft cuttings if you have a propagator. Make layers of difficult subjects.
- Transplant last brassica and leek plants. Incorporate compost with all transplants this month.
- Feed tomatoes and pot plants with comfrey liquid or seaweed solution.
- Spread mulches under and around potatoes.
- Sow outdoors: lettuce, saladings, beetroot, kohlrabi, swedes, turnips, spinach, chicory, endive, biennial and perennial flowers.
Harvest and use, or store and preserve, ripe fruits, crisp salads and prime vegetables.
- Pause at least once to enjoy the result of your labours.
Don’t worry if the first flowers fall off your yellow squash plants without producing squash. These are male flowers. You can tell the difference because male flowers have a green stem whereas female flowers have a little squash at the base of the flower that develops after the flower is pollinated.