The biggest threat to the lawn this month will be the weather. Hot dry conditions may begin to cause the sward to weaken and become thin, too much wet weather can suffocate the roots.
If hot weather prevails – water should be given as appropriate. Where water metering or even hose-pipe bans limit the amount of water that is available to the lawn, waste water can be used with the exception of water from washing machines where modern biological powders are used.
If regular rainfall is received, spiking may be required in problem areas such as under trees or in dips to minimise the incursion of moss.
Turfing can still be carried out provided conditions are not too dry, wet areas should be drained prior to laying by installing a simple soakaway at the lowest point on the site; this can only be done if the soil is moist enough to allow digging. A soakaway is a pit or trench dug to a depth of about 90 – 120cm (3-4ft), filled half way with rubble, topped with a generous layer of coarse gravel. Finally a 3-4cm layer of pea shingle is added before filling the remainder of the pit with weed free garden soil. If several wet areas exist, they can be linked to the soakaway by further sloping trenches (the bottom of the trench should provide a gradient of about 1:100) filled as above or with plastic drainage pipes.
If installing soakaways on an existing lawn, the original turf – which has been carefully set to one side – is then replaced and firmed down with the back of a spade, a roller or a flat board.
The weather will influence the type of fertilizer that will be appropriate; liquids are less liable to scorching than granular fertilizers should conditions be hot and dry cylinder mowers for fine turf and hover mowers for slopes and difficult to reach areas
The Vegetable and Fruit Garden
There is lots to do in this area of the garden with successional sowings and harvesting in full swing.
Runner beans raised in the greenhouse or cold frame can be planted by mid-month in most areas into prepared ground under strong supports of canes or wires and strings held tense by strong treated wooden posts. Seeds sown last month direct into the soil will have germinated. The shoots should be protected with cotton or netting to prevent damage by birds. Some slug pellets or a watering with Slugit Liquid, diluted at the recommended rate, will keep slugs and snails at bay.
Carrots sown now will be less vulnerable to attack by carrot root fly larvae than earlier-sown crops. Sow thinly to avoid the need for thinning as this attracts the pest. A low barrier of fine netting in July should reduce damage still further. March/April sown peas must be protected from damage by pea moths as soon as flowering commences. Spray with Bug clear as necessary before the caterpillars have a chance to enter the pods.
Tomatoes can be planted out into the allotment or into a Levington Gro-Bag. Begin feeding with Tomorite (N:P:K, 4:4:5:8) at 7-14 day intervals once the second truss has set. Feeding too early can cause the first truss to abort.
THE GREENHOUSE AND CONSERVATORY
Watering, feeding and pest control will be the main jobs this month.
Water should be given freely as required during warm spells but the amount should be reduced if the weather becomes overcast. Most plants will require feeding every 7 – 10 days. Flowering and Fruiting plants can be encouraged to produce higher yields with Levington Tomorite (N:P:K, 4:4.5:8).
The structure should be ventilated regularly to cool the air and purge excess humidity, a real enemy at any time of year when growing all but tropical species or seed sowing.
Pests such as whitefly should be controlled with regular sprays of Nature’s Answer Natural Pest Control or Bug Clear. Alternate the sprays used to reduce the risk of resistance to any one active ingredient.
Try planting a basil plant among your tomatoes to keep away the white fly
Red spider mites will also begin to cause damage. Kill these with Nature’s Answer Natural Pest Control or Bug Clear. If predators are to be used, these should be introduced before pest numbers become to large.
Cucumbers sown last month should be planted once the young plants have reached the four true-leaf stage; two per Levington Gro-Bag.
If purchasing ready grown cucumbers look for all-female varieties (parthenocarpic) such as ‘Femdan’ or ‘Birgit’ as opposed to the older open pollinated types as there is no worry about pollinating insects spoiling the fruit – pollinated fruit is often bitter.
The Ornamental Garden
Herbaceous plants must be supported effectively as new growth develops. Tree ties may need to be loosened to prevent damage to expanding stems.
Colour should develop towards the end of the month as recent plantings of bedding begin to bloom.
Hanging baskets, tubs and containers can be moved outside in all but the coldest regions, but should be given a little protection from the wind until completely hardened off and until the root system is properly established. Tubs and baskets will benefit from a few slug pellets scattered on the surface of the compost as snails will often congregate in the shade of the leaves. If Osmocote has not been incorporated, containers will require feeding six to eight weeks after planting. Tub & Hanging Basket Food is specially formulated to provide all the nutrients that fast-growing flowering plants will need.
Where space is at a premium, some sweet peas can be planted in a Levington Gro-Bag in a sunny spot against a south-facing wall or fence on the patio.
Before planting new container-grown trees and shrubs, the soil should be enriched with Bone Meal or Vitax Q4 at the rate of 70g/m (2oz/yd ) to encourage rapid root development. Alternatively, backfill the planting hole with Tree & Shrub Planting Compost which contains enough nutrients to feed new plants for their first season.
Water the container thoroughly and allow to drain for an hour before planting.
As the season progresses, pests such as greenfly, whitefly and caterpillars will become more troublesome. They should be killed as they are seen using Ultimate Bug Killer – a handy ready to use spray.
For organic gardeners wanting combined pest and disease control on ornamental plants – Nature’s Answer Natural Pest and Disease Control is the answer. The combination of fatty acids and sulphur will kill a broad range of leaf and stem pests and give useful control of powdery mildew.