Greenfingers - July 2020

A bed of bearded iris in the garden has not flowered for the second year, so they will be dug up and divided before re-planting in a new bed, which hopefully will re-invigorate them. They’ve been baked in the sun, but are probably struggling with overcrowding.

Two well-established holly trees in the hedge are also looking stressed, dropping many spikey leaves onto the beds and grass, presumably as a result of the lack of rain. The moral here is not to garden bare-footed.

Squash and courgette plants have been slow to become established in the garden, but are beginning to do so. But most other flowers and vegetables are looking OK. The mange tout peas, broad beans, lettuce, radish, tomatoes and even the 4 potatoes look healthy. There’s also a few chilli pepper plants and some seedlings of basil and parsley coming along.

Greenfingers0720AA few salvia cuttings were taken about 3 weeks ago, from 3 different plants, and all are doing well. Others should have been taken too: lavender, penstemon, and dianthus. They can still be propagated by pegging stems into the ground.

The seed pods of love in a mist, Nigella, always look somewhat alien. All ours have reverted to white flowers, so they’ll come out and be replaced by a sprinkling of seeds to produce mixed colours.

Greenfingers0720BThe row of yew saplings grown from cuttings some time ago are becoming established, some better than others, but they all seem to have survived the dry spell.

Bumblebees have been very busy on the clumps of catmint, Nepeta, and a few other flowers, sage, salvia and Alstroemeria. They don’t like the doubles, such as most roses and peonies. The length of their tongue determines which flower to visit, though I have seen short tongued species making holes in the back of Aquilegia flowers to extract the nectar without the struggle to pass by the stamens.

In between periods of relaxation, there are a few jobs to do in the garden: dead head bedding plants and some perennials. Other perennials can be cut down after flowering to produce fresh foliage or possibly more flowers.

Greenfingers0720CMake a summer pruning of wisteria, cut sweet pea flowers regularly and remove any seed pods. Water tomatoes in the morning and feed weekly, and keep the greenhouse atmosphere humid by watering the path or gravel, to deter red spider mite. Keep the weeding going. Consider making a liquid manure from borage, the flowers of which are also a favourite with bees. Put the leaves in a bucket with enough water to cover them and add a lid. Preferably two lids. After a couple of weeks, strain the liquid and use it as a liquid fertiliser, diluted 10:1.

The pond needs clearing – an autumn job, which didn’t get done last year, and the blanket weed is a problem, but it’s full of wildlife. The vines have been pruned, though one seems to have few flowering stems, probably as a result of the cold night we had in mid-May. The other has more fruiting stems. The apples need thinning – it’s top of my list for tomorrow……

The orbits of earth and venus generate a cycle of approximately 1.6 years. Venus has now moved to become a morning star for the next few months, and will be at greatest brightness before dawn on 8th July.

Pete Smith