It's soon going to be too hot
to do the job it was too cold to do last winter.
By now all the hard work carried out in spring should mean that you are enjoying a garden that is a riot of colour and full of fragrance. The vege patch will be in full production and the boughs of your fruit trees will be burgeoning with ripening summer fruits. Often gardening will be confined to the coolness of early mornings and evenings. Both the garden and the gardener will be starting to feel the heat.
One of the most important tasks for summer is to monitor the water supply. Fruiting plants in particular need a regular water supply while the fruit is ripening. Maturing vegetables will also need regular watering if the summer skies remain clear. Remember deep watering is always preferable to a light sprinkle here and there. Watering should be done overnight if possible so the plants have maximum uptake. Established trees and perennials will not be as demanding for water as they are able to send their roots further down into the soil to seek moisture.
Take the time to check the soil and apply water where it is most needed - some plants will naturally look a bit droopy on a hot afternoon but often they will perk up in the cool of the evening, just like the gardener after a refreshing G&T. However remember container plants will need daily watering in the height of summer - you can do this while you are sipping on said G&T.
Top Tasks for Summer
- Monitor water requirements.
- Continue to top up mulch as and when required. Wairere Top Tip – a thick layer of newspaper under your mulch will really help with both water retention and weed suppression.
- Vegetables to plant in early summer include some of our favourites: - Beans, Tomatoes, Basil, Pumpkins, Zucchini, Cucumbers and Potato Main Crops. Liquid feed Strawberries regularly to keep up production. Basil is a good companion plant for Tomatoes (and they taste great together too) it is purported to improve the vigour of Tomato plants and to help repel insects.
- Feed Citrus and make sure they are well watered in dry spells.
- Dead-head i.e. remove spent blooms on perennials and roses. Cut back with clean sharp tools to a new growth point.
- Summer is a time of high plant production in the garden and the same goes for Pests and Diseases. Practice your preferred method of control – either chemical or organic if deemed necessary. Remember some plants will get diseased as this is Nature’s way of ending their natural life cycle, e.g. powdery mildew on pansies in summer is a sign that their flowering and seed production is finished and their life cycle as an annual is now complete.
- Watch for Mites. Mites love summer but like to keep their cool by living on the underside of leaves. Yellowing or discolouration of summer foliage can trick the gardener into thinking that the plant requires feeding but often it is the first sign of an all mighty Mite attack. Mites are very hard to see with the naked eye (you’ll need to put your glasses on Harry), look for fine webbing on the back of the leaf. Neem Oil or Liquid Sulphur are both good for Mite control but cannot be used together and either or should only be used in the cool of the evening.
- Caterpillars will also be a real pest in summer – look for the tell-tale sign of their dark green or black droppings on foliage – use organic Nature’s Way Caterpillar Killer which is safe to use on both ornamentals and edibles.
- Prune Apricots, Nectarines and Peaches on a warm dry day. Disinfect tools in-between each cut to prevent any spread of disease. Check out our ARS Range for tools that will make the job easy.
- Prune back fruiting canes on Berries and Brambles after harvesting – check our ‘How To’ pages for pruning information.
- Grape bunches will be starting to develop and you may need to clip off any leaves that are shading the bunches. Trailing laterals can also be trimmed at this time but any heavy pruning should be left until winter.
- Trim Hedges and Topiaries towards the end of February. This gives the new growth time to harden up before the cooler weather comes.
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