5 gardening jobs for the summer

Watering plants with ice cubes

The sun is shining, your plants are flowering and Paul Peacock has a few ideas to keep you and your garden in great summer shape.

For a short stretch, the summer garden is more wistful than wearing, more tranquil than toilsome. But it’s not all deckchair sleeping, wafting away the hoverflies and bees. There is some work to be done.

Many of you will already know that I like to pack my patio with pot plants that release wonderful fragrances. This forces me into two jobs straight away: watering and deadheading. 

Pruning will reduce the amount of water your plants need

Paul’s tips for summer

1. Water, water, everywhere

Pot plants lose a lot of water and it needs to be replaced. Because of my heart failure, carrying a watering can in the heat is out of the question for me, as is standing with a hose, so I use ice cubes. I have found three ice cubes per pot in the late morning to be optimum for the health of the plant, four for a larger plant and five for a particularly big one.

2. Trim your tomato plants

As soon as the tomatoes have four flowering trusses (clusters of small stems that eventually yield fruit), snip off the tops of the plants to prevent any more. By the end of July, start to remove leaves, especially those emerging from between the vertical stem and the main branches of the plant, leaving tomatoes and nothing else.

Gardening in summer

All of this pruning will reduce the amount of water your plants need and help them remain free of fungal infections too.

3. Deadhead the flowers

Deadheading encourages new flowers to grow and will ensure your garden looks its best. This can be a really lovely task, just pottering about, snipping off spent flowers here and there.

Tie a plastic bag to your secateurs to collect the dead flowers.

4. Sowing salads

A refreshing salad makes a great accompaniment to a meal or can be a light lunch on its own. You can sow salads up until August, at waist height in containers and hanging baskets. I’ll also be ordering Japanese onion sets and ‘all-year-round’ cabbage, as well as a tub of carrots.

5. Dividing lilies

By the end of the summer, I will have moved on to dividing up the lilies that have finished flowering. Lilies are really easy to propagate. The bulbs bear little bulblets, sometimes known as scales. Pull them off and plant in compost in a frost-free place, and they should come up by next spring. Keep them well fed for the next year and expect flowers the following year. After this, you can expect to divide them every three years.

Wellies or boots?

If you’d asked me this question a few years ago, I would have said boots every time, because they are warmer, they do not pick up as much mud as wellies and they are usually better-fitting.

However, I’ve been experiencing water retention as a result of my heart failure. I cannot get my boots on without pain now, so I am hanging them up and buying a pair of wellies that open out, making them easy to pull on. I will be wearing these with a couple of pairs of long socks that I still have from my rugby days.

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