This Month in the Garden – June 2019

At last my front and back lawns are looking like continuous areas of mown grass rather than a random mixture of grass and patches of bare earth.  In April I loosened the soil in all the bare patches, sowed lawn seed (much to the delight of the wood pigeons) and lightly covered it with sieved topsoil.  Since then it has been well watered, either by sprinkler or by the blessed appearance of proper rain and the new seed together with some natural regeneration of the old turf has done the trick.  A closer look shows there are still small bare patches, some of which may need a bit more seed, but the overall effect is pretty good. A downpour in May means that the soil is nicely wet at the moment but a return of dry weather may pose the problem of whether or not to water the lawn. Official advice is to leave it unwatered and it will regrow but last year showed that this may not apply to prolonged very hot drought and newly sown or turfed areas will certainly need continued watering …

Something that isn’t looking so good is the pond. A fortnight’s holiday together with a lot of time spent on the lawn has meant neglect elsewhere and now the pond needs a lot of attention. The first thing is to scoop out the blanket weed. The official method is to twist it out round a stick but I have found that a carefully wielded garden rake is much more efficient. This helps to thin out oxygenating plants at the same time and if you pull out more than you wanted to you can always drop some of it back and it will regrow. Duckweed is becoming a problem and I use a child’s fishing net for this. Whatever vegetation you take out of the pond examine it carefully for wildlife, newts, tadpoles, water snails and  dragonfly larvae and, having rescued what you can see, leave the weed on the side of the pond so that the things you have missed can get themselves back in the water.  Plants that you want in the pond may need thinning or weeding. If you have water lilies remember that the flowers resent being disturbed either by running water or by physical action.

A lot of work in the garden will now be maintenance rather than propagation but successional sowing of lettuce, other salad leaf crops, radish and carrots can be continued. This is also the time for sowing biennial flowers that will be flower next year, like foxgloves or wallflowers, and also perennial flowers. They are much cheaper to grow from seed rather than bought from a nursery or garden centre.

Uppermost on the maintenance list will be weeding. This not only makes things look good but allows plants the room to grow properly. As I have often said, a little and often is the best policy. Use a hoe in the vegetable garden and where there is room in flower beds. Otherwise lift weeds with a hand fork and turn over the soil at the same time.  Keep earthing up potatoes to stop the crop near the surface going green. Dead-heading flowers will also keep you busy and this applies particularly to roses and annual flowers. Plants in containers will need regular liquid feeding as well as watering.  Roses are thirsty plants and need a good soaking every now and again. Green fly on roses can be a problem now and are best treated with a soapy spray (diluted washing-up liquid).  Perrenial plants may well need staking or providing other support. Soft fruits will be near ripening and may need some net protection if they are not in a fruit cage. Cherries are particularly vulnerable but gooseberries left to ripen fully to eat raw will also be tempting for birds. Watch out for slug and snail activity and current thinking from the RHS is that beer traps are the most effective way of reducing their impact. Once you have got the beer in you can always drown your sorrows if the traps don’t work.  

Jeremy Arthern

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