Welcome to Summer
With climate change gardeners must be prepared for very varying and warmer weather conditions in summertime and extremes of frost in the winter months . We may experience torrential downpours as well as a longer scorching days in the summer months so temporary shelter for our more delicate plants will be required and increased watering even for trees .Last year has brought casualties not evident until this year with many gardeners getting shocks when beloved trees failed to flower and died ,myself included ive lost a prunus kanzan In severe heat plus this winter a hardy Fuscia and my beloved blue Ceanothus against a warmer west facing wall !!
We should not beat ourselves up over climate change as life must go on ,but should each try our best to follow good environmental advice from professional horticultural research. The UN conferences are involving many countries and governments in taking decisive urgent action to reduce green house warming gas emissions from fossil fuels and currently some livestock farming methods. International research is required to try to collect carbon and hydrocarbon emissions at source but this may take much time yet. Governments and populations will have to work closely together for drastic changes in lifestyles in the next ten years to hold temperature rises by cutting parts per million carbon emissions urgently .Science will win the battle but there is an immense challenge ahead and we are running out of time ,
Regular garden maintenance in summer is a must. I find a daily check early in the morning helps to commit to memory those many jobs I ought to be doing! Whether they actually get done is another matter!
Watering should be done daily as soon as soil starts to dry out. Add organic mulch (manure, compost or leaf mould) to flower beds and water retaining crystals to containers and baskets. Water crystals in containers will keep plants in good shape if you are away.
Lawns appreciate a high nitrogen liquid feed after the long months of winter and should be watered during long hot dry spells. Raise the height of mower blades and remove collection box to leave grass cuttings to protect new growth from burning at peak temperatures.and add back nitrogen . This should help your grass try to remain green.
Stock up on fertilisers. The snow and heavy rains of winter will have leached away many of the main nutrients required by your plants. I recommend tomato food (high in potassium) to boost flowering and phosphorus which will strengthen roots and stems, particularly if you are growing vegetables. Ericaceous plants will react very favourably to iron and manganese liquid proprietary feeds. Its sometimes called ‘sequestered iron’ and is the vital food required for acid-soil loving plants.
Prune large shrubs and dig out any unwanted suckers. This will promote fresh growth but also give light and space for a healthier garden. Deadheading flowers past their sell by date will often trigger a fresh flush of flowers and prevent the plant from going to seed. If you are willing to give it a go, herbs are easy to grow from seed, although grow them in containers or they will take over. Cut, trim dry and eat on a regular basis. Don’t you just love summer.!
A kitchen garden if you have some space will provide a regular source of salad vegetables, just keep on sowing and picking. Tomatoes can be planted out, but will do much better under glass. Root crops grow well in a raised bed out of reach of the dreaded carrot fly. Leguminous peas and beans do not require a rich soil, they produce their own nitrogen nodules , but some manure around the roots is beneficial. Brassicas like some lime ,manure to produce good rich humus soil and if possible soil depth again with raised beds is welcome .
Greenhouses should be checked for over-wintering pests, red spider mite in particular. A thorough soapy sponge down works well. Allow plenty of air circulation and dampen the floor on very hot days.
A final tip – do not compost diseased plant material, or any protein or fat food waste.
Do e mail me if you have any science based garden queries tony@scienceforthe gardener.com
Science for the Gardener Book available direct from Tony Arnold www.scienceforthegardener.com free delivery and personally signed.
Enjoy the start to Summer 2003