Topical Tips


Tips on pruning your fruit trees or shrubs or roses are now given on:

Notes from John Effemy on Pruning

August 2010

Usually one of the hottest months of the year, –   so extra attention must be paid to watering and caring for your plants and trees. Try to use grey water (ie used water such as washing up water as long as it does not contain too much detergent) wherever possible, especially as water butts may be running low after the a dry summer we have had. This is one of the best months for sitting back and admiring your hard work! Also it is traditionally holiday-time, so the gardener can go on holiday provided he has mown the lawn, watered thoroughly     and enlisted the help of friends and family to look after the garden while you are away. As and incentive tell them to pick what ever fruit and vegetables are ready so that you do not to waste food and in part payment for their efforts. You never know you might encourage someone to start gardening as fresh fruit and vegetable do taste better

Some jobs to keep you busy

Summer prune Wisteria cutting new shoots back to 5 buds and tie in if required.

Plant Crocuses, Daffodils ,Scillas and Snowdrops as soon as the bulbs are available .Also plant hyacinths ,paper-white Narcissi and Freesias for flowering at Christmas.

Sow Anemones ,Hollyhocks and Gaillardias to flower next year.

Check the staking and tying in of Chrysanthemums and Dahlias.

Cut out the fruiting canes of Summer Raspberries and Black Currants when the last fruits have been picked.

Deadhead flowering plants regularly

Watering! Particularly containers, and new plants – preferably with grey recycled water or stored rainwater.

Remember to water Tomatoes regularly to avoid bottom end rot.

Harvest Garlic, Shallots and Onions once the stems are dry and brown.

Collect seed from favourite plants

Harvest sweetcorn and other vegetables as they become ready

Lift and pot up rooted strawberry runners

Keep ponds and water features topped up

Feed the soil with green manures

Remember to top up water put out for the birds and small mammals to drink or bathe in.

July 2010

July is often the warmest month of the year in the British Isles especially inland areas of East Anglia and the Southern England. It can also be the wettest summer month often with high humidity which can produce favourable conditions for the spread of plant diseases. It is a time when you can sit back for a moment and enjoy the fruits of your labours in the garden. While there are still other ongoing tasks to perform in the garden, your primary concern will be assuring an ample supply of water for your plants. If you’re looking for things to do, you can spend some time adding summer plants to the garden, lawn care and planting autumn and winter vegetables. This is the month that you begin enjoying the harvest of your homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs and enjoy the colour in your garden from the annuals, biennials and perennials that you have planted.

Some jobs to keep you busy.

  • Be water-wise, especially after the very dry June. The primary rule of summer watering is to water thoroughly and deeply each time and to allow the soil to dry out between watering. The best way to tell if your plants are receiving enough water is to take a trowel or shovel and dig down a few inches. The soil should be moist at least 3 or 4 inches deep to ensure that the water is reaching the root zone of the plants.
  • Push your finger into the soil in your container plantings at least once a day (more often on hot, dry days) to feel for moisture and be certain that plants are getting enough water. Apply water until it runs out of the drainage holes
  • Dead head fed and water bedding plants to keep them flowering well and tidy spreading plants.
  • Pinch out sideshoots on tomatoes as they appear
  • Hoe borders regularly to keep down weeds
  • Make sure that shading is adequate in the greenhouses to keep them cool
  • If you plan to plant a new lawn this autumn start preparing the ground as soon as you are able to.
  • Remember especially in the hot weather to put fresh water out daily for the birds to drink or bathe in. Also it is very useful for insects…bees etc to have a shallow container of water but make sure there is a way for them to get out ie.a floating piece of wood or a stone in case they fall in.
  • Thin out over crowded apples and pears for better quality and sized fruit.
  • Deadhead roses regularly to keep them flowering.
  • Fish may be at risk of oxygen starvation if water levels drop and in hot humid weather.

June 2010

The sun is at its strongest in June compared to any other time of the year and the longest day comes in this month on the 21st. The extra light and hopefully the warmth encourage the garden to put on an exuberant burst of growth. This also means weeds will sprout up from seemingly no where. So try and keep on top of them by hoeing regularly in dry conditions. The herbaceous borders are reaching their early summer peak and the kitchen garden is becoming productive. Pest and diseases must be checked at the first signs of infesting the garden: early action can do much to keep these enemies under control. On the whole, June can be the driest month of the year but in the afternoon cumulus clouds may develop to great heights inland, and thunderstorms are likely!

Some jobs to keep you busy.

  • Remember to keep the hoe going regularly to keep down weeds. Why not make a point of when you wander around the garden to take it with you.
  • Mow lawns regularly and lightly without the box in case of drought.
  • Plant out summer bedding plants if you have not already done so.
  • Stake tall or floppy plants with sticks, link canes or something similar before they really need it as then they can then may grow through and hide them.
  • Position summer hanging baskets and containers outside and remember to water them.
  • Prune many spring-flowering shrubs as the flowers fade.
  • I am sure you will remember to pick lettuce, radish, other salads crops and it may be worth seeing if you have any early potatoes to harvest!
  • Shade greenhouses to keep them cool and prevent scorch with something like  “Coolglass.”
  • Pinch out sideshoots on tomatoes
  • Try to be water-wise, especially if we should find ourselves in   drought-conditions. You can never have too many water butts!
  • Watch Roses for signs of greenfly or mildew.
  • If your Sweet Peas are flowering remember to pick them regularly to keep a ensure continuation of blooms.
  • Order Roses, Trees and Shrubs for autumn plantin
  • If time, remember to just sit in the garden, maybe with a drink, an enjoy it!

May 2010

May is one of the loveliest months of the year. The magic of spring peaks, and everywhere gardens rejoice in a surfeit of colour. The weather is still very unpredictable and can vary from hot dry times, frosts earlier in the month, hail, violent squally winds and thunderstorms! The middle of May can be one of the driest times of year, particularly in the south, and in East Anglia most gardens will begin to dry out. Initially, this is a benefit because the soil will reach an ideal consistency for seed sowing. However, as drying continues, there may be insufficient water to keep the seedlings going.  With the bulbs fading and the herbaceous border growing in leaps and bounds, it is now clear that summer is approaching. Sowing and planting out bedding can begin in this area from about the third week in the month It’s also time to get back into the lawn mowing regime, as the lawn will be loving the warmer temperatures that this month brings. ….Well you can not enjoy yourself all of the time!

Some jobs to keep you busy

  • Watch out for late frosts and protect tender plants
  • If you have any potatoes not planted do so promptly and continue earthing up these others as they appear.
  • Plant out summer bedding 3-4 week of the month but remember to harden then off first.
  • It is worth regularly hoeing off or hand forking up the weeds so they can not get hold.
  • Open greenhouse vents and doors on warm days and consider what shading you are going to use i.e. blinds or shade paint to avoid large variations in temperature and scorching of plants.
  • Mow lawns weekly.
  • Before clipping hedges check that no bird is nesting in it.
  • Watch out for lily beetles and their grubs. The beetles are bright red and the grubs appear as a 1cm slime-covered orange grub. Crushing is the best way to deal with them
  • Sow the last of the hardy annuals and thin out any of the previous planted one if needed and sow Biennials for flowering next year.
  • Sow your Greens now either in seed trays or directly into a well prepared seed bed.
  • Sow Runner beans outside near the end of the month.
  • Harvest asparagus daily.
  • Sow beetroot, turnip, main  carrots, sweet corn outside and squashes and pumpkins indoors.

April 2010

April is a busy time of the year in the garden with probably not much time available. Spring should now be in evidence, with daffodils in flower and blossom adorning trees. With longer days and stronger sunshine, growing conditions are now improving rapidly but wet days can cause considerable hold-ups in the general work. It’s an exciting month, with indoor-sown seeds well into growth, and it’s also time to start sowing outdoors. The weather can still be very changeable with thunderstorms giving heavy rain sometimes with sleet ,hail and even snow! Also we can have very warm days possible up to 21 ºC giving us a taste of Summer but beware we can have severe ground frosts especially if the ground is dry. If a sudden cold spell is forecast, protect tender plants and new shoots with a double layer of horticultural fleece. Unfortunately, Magnolia flowers can often become browned, and Acer leaves scorched by April frosts with fruit blossom also being damaged!

Some jobs to keep you busy

  • If you are planning a new lawn this year, you should now prepare the ground for sowing seed or laying turf or repairing  bare patches
  • If you haven’t done it already, the lawn is likely to need its first mow of the year. Before cutting the grass, rake with a wire rake. This will raise any buttercup or    clover runners and reduce their spread. Use a weed and feed treatment on the lawn unless you are organic. Remember to keep the blades up high on the mower so   not to cut the grass too short!
  • Weed the flower beds and apply a mulch which will improve soil fertility and help to control the weeds.
  • Slugs and snails will start to make an appearance, so sprinkle grit or egg shells around vulnerable plants, which slugs don’t like crawling across. Careful use of slug pellets would also help, although bear in mind that some wildlife rely on slugs and snails for their food source, so keep this in mind. Hide slug pellets under stones so that other animals can’t eat them.
  • Plant summer flowering bulbs.
  • Plant your tomatoes in the greenhouse.
  • Plant out second early potatoes.
  • Complete the pruning, support and tie in climbers including climbing and rambling roses. Loosen or renew any tree ties that may be digging in to the bark. We forgot to do this last year and lost a dwarf apricot tree.
  • Strawberry plants can be planted.
  • Repot houseplants and increase the water given to them.
  • Protect fruit blossom from late frosts
  • Sow hardy annuals and herb seeds
  • Start to feed citrus plants
  • Feed hungry shrubs and roses
  • Prune fig trees
  • Divide bamboos and water lilies