As we begin to enjoy balmy evenings on the patio, bear in mind that as all your plants will be growing rapidly, so too will weeds, so keep on top of maintenance this month.
Late sowings or plantings should be coming on strong now and you should be reaping the rewards with the first vegetables of summer.
What to do with your flowers
- If you haven’t staked tall summer blooms such as delphiniums and sunflowers, do so now before they start to flop over.
- If your pansies are still going from spring, regular deadheading is vital to keep them going during the summer months. The same goes for roses and spent African marigolds. When lupins are over, cut back the finished flowers and they may give you another smaller show later in the year.
- Dig up tulip and hyacinth bulbs when the foliage has died off and store dry bulbs in a cool, dark shed ready to replant in autumn.
- Take cuttings from short-lived perennials such as pinks and perennial wallflowers, and from rock plants including aubrieta.
Watering your garden
- You’ll need to water container plants and hanging baskets on a daily basis in prolonged dry spells and feed them from time to time if you haven’t put granular feed in with the compost. Some composts incorporate plant food, so check on the bag before you start.
- Keep young, newly planted specimens well-watered while their root system establishes throughout the next few months.
- The vegetable patch will be well underway by now but will need plenty of water to give young, tender veg a good start.
- If you’re worried about water usage and don’t have a water butt, give watering priority to containers, newly planted shrubs and trees and the vegetable garden. Established borders should have good enough root systems to withstand some drought.
- Water in the evening, when the sun has gone down, to avoid excess evaporation.
Fruit and veg
- Weed in and around all fruit and veg. That way the weeds won’t take all the moisture and nutrients from the soil. Weeds can also cause a localised increase in humidity around crop leaves, which is likely to lead to mildews, rusts and grey mould.
- Plant out tender vegetables sown earlier in the year including tomatoes, courgettes, French and runner beans, aubergines and peppers, now all danger of frost has passed.
- Start to harvest early potatoes, choosing a dry day so that you won’t have as much soil clinging to the tubers. Foliage on new potatoes doesn’t need to have gone yellow before lifting the crop.
- Tie new canes of blackberries and hybrid berries loosely to supports to prevent them from blowing about and damaging the fruiting canes.
- Thin heavy crops of plums so that fruit size is maintained and the branches are not put under excessive strain. Be prepared to put props under heavily laden branches to stop them breaking off.
- Cut out unwanted shoots on fan-trained peach and nectarine trees as soon as possible and loosely tie in new shoots so they develop in the right direction. Shoots growing from the base of this year’s fruiting shoots produce next year’s crops.
- Shorten sideshoots on gooseberry bushes to about five leaves unless they are needed to extend the branch. Keeping the bushes open in shape helps picking.
- Harvest overwintering onions, lettuce, rocket, radishes, peas, spring onions and globe artichokes at the end of the month.
- As you use up early vegetable crops, clear out the old roots, add organic general fertiliser to the soil and fill the space with new sowings or plantings, including lettuce, radish and oriental leaves.
- Cover vulnerable brassicas with a framework of netting to stop birds getting at them
- Pick strawberries, making sure you pull off the calyxes attached to the fruit as well because if you leave tiny traces of fruit behind, it can lead to grey mould.
- The lawn will be growing fast now, especially if you have the occasional shower, so mow it every week and trim the edges.
- Boost your grass with a dose of liquid or soluble feed, applied through a watering can or hose-end applicator. Don’t feed the grass if it is suffering from drought as it can lead to scorching.
- If you created a new lawn from seed or turf in spring you will need to keep it well watered in the early stages.
- Use edging shears to neaten up lawn edges, which can make all the difference. Tackle this job once a week and put the trimmings on the compost heap.