JULY IN THE GARDEN
This is a busy month in the garden with winter pruning top of the priority list. As day length starts to increase many plants start to show signs of new growth and shrubs like magnolias and camellias are in their prime. It may still be winter but July definitely has a spring feel about it. So many winter and spring flowering bulbs and flowers are coming into full bloom. The vegetable garden is filled with flourishing produce and life is fulfilling. Very few pests or diseases and virtually no weeds make this an enjoyable time in the garden with singularly few chores to be done.
- Watering and feeding are vital to keep flowering plants in pristine condition. Continue using 3:1:6 water soluble plant food every 2 to 3 weeks.
- Dead heading is as important as ever – never allow flowering plants to form seed pods unless you wish to harvest seed.
- Odd gaps in the garden can still be filled with pansies and violas and a host of other flowering annuals.
- Petunias perform exceptionally well if planted out now. They are especially suited to window boxes, pots and hanging baskets.
- Sow the last crops of peas and broad bean seed.
- Sow carrots, turnips, radish and parsnips.
- Make the last plantings of winter and spring vegetables.
- Harvesting is important with so many winter crops ready at this time of year.
- Remove the left-over parts of harvested plants including the roots and get the soil prepared for later spring plantings.
- Most herbs are flourishing at the moment.
- Feed and water mint to encourage new growth.
- Plant out parsley seedlings for a bumper spring crop.
- Sow rocket and wild rocket seeds. Fresh aragula is always welcome.
- Prune deciduous fruit trees (peach, plum, apricot, nectarine, pear and apple) and spray with lime sulphur to control fungal diseases and insect eggs. Buy new lime sulphur each season as it does not keep from year to year.
- Grape vines require winter pruning.
- Plant out new strawberry plants for a late spring harvest.
- Harvest citrus and avocados.
- Make sure that trees still laden with crops are watered during dry spells to prevent fruit drop from stress.
- Apply magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) to citrus trees.
- Cut out old, dead or damaged wood from trees and shrubs.
- With regards to winter pruning be aware of what flowering shrubs not to prune. Hydrangeas, weigelas, deutzias, philadelphus and many other spring flowering shrubs must not be cut back in winter but rather immediately after flowering.
- Ideal time to neaten and tidy formal or clipped hedges. Prune them back to size and shape before spring growth commences.
- An appropriate time to purchase new aloes for the garden whilst they’re in bloom. It makes selection that much easier.
- Succulents are in their prime and also ready for planting into the garden or pots and containers.
- Mulch hydrangeas with a layer of compost and well-rotted kraal manure.
- Water winter rainfall plants like proteas and their many relatives. It’s also a good time to purchase and plant out young plants of proteas and other types of Cape fynbos.
- Water hellebores as they bloom during the middle of winter.
- Cut back day lily foliage and mulch the plants for a spectacular late spring display.
- Seasonal fillers for planting now – osteospermums, argyranthemums, pelargoniums, petunias, calibrachoas.
- July is pruning month. Make sure that all tools are sharp and are disinfected after each rose is pruned. This minimises the transference of diseases from one bush to the next.
- Spray with fresh, new season lime sulphur immediately after pruning.
- Dig compost into the rose beds and apply a new layer of mulch around the bushes.
- Feed roses with a complete or balanced fertiliser after digging in the compost.
- Water well after pruning and mulching. Continue at 7 to 10-day intervals.
- Transplant roses that need to be moved into a new position. Prune back before digging them out.
- Check standard rose ties and renew if necessary.
- Time to have all lawn mowing and trimming equipment serviced so that it’s ready for action in early spring.
- Mow evergreen lawn grass varieties with the blades set on high. They need to have longer leaf blades in order to grow well.
- Look out for winter weed infestations like chickweed.
- Check tree stakes and ties. Renew where necessary.
- Repair fences, pergolas and other garden structures.
- Turn over the compost heap.
- Spray driveways, paths and hard surface areas for any winter weeds that may have sprung up.
Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle.