To get the best out of your garden in the summer, it is worth thinking about preparing early. Preparing a mouth-watering barbeque in a beautifully arranged garden is a feast for the eyes, especially when all of the plants and flowers are looking spectacular. The colour and odours of a healthy and well-maintained garden will complement any gathering. Here are some hints on how to get your garden ready for the summer season.
For gardens to really shine it is worth setting up some kind of watering system to ensure that things don’t wither away. Soaker hoses dug into particularly thirsty roots are useful, as are drip irrigation systems. Watering in the early morning will give the plants the chance to absorb as much as possible before the heat of the day deprives them of moisture.
Many annuals are not suited to the summer heat. Any dead annual plants should be removed, and flowers should be deadheaded to encourage new blooms. Young weeds should be controlled by exposing them to the sun with a hoe. Keep shrubs pruned back and remove poisonous plants, to provide healthy shrubs with more air and light.
Adjust the blades on your mower. Keep grass cut to a uniform height of 3 inches – this will help it to retain moisture. Watering the lawn once a week for an hour should be sufficient to stop it drying out. Spread lawn clippings with a rake instead of gathering them – they will help to recycle essential nutrients.
Lift onions and shallots, and leave to dry in the sun before taking indoors. Second early potatoes will also need to be taken up. As fast-growing beans and courgettes come to maturity they should be picked quickly to stop them from becoming over-ripe. Tomatoes and peppers gravitate naturally towards the sun and should be kept off the ground to discourage pests.
Be sure to lift vegetables swiftly before they fall victim to pests. Remove wilting shrubs that are denying nutrients to surrounding plants.
Aerate fish ponds by running fountains overnight to introduce oxygen into the water. Blanket weed also creeps across the pond during the winter, and will stifle plants and fish unless removed.
If you have a portable barbeque that has spent much of the winter in storage, open it up and clean out any insects that may be living inside. Charcoal units may need to have their fuel pans cleaned of burned deposits and de-rusted with a wire brush for the new season. Clean the unit with de-greaser and check the gas connection for splits or tears (on gas models).
Greenhouses can be lethal for unprepared plants, especially in hot weather. Pay special attention to water and ventilation. Slugs and other pests can make their home in greenhouses, and aphids will need to be blasted with an insecticidal soap.
Plants grown in containers get very thirsty and may need to be watered twice a day to prevent them from wilting. You can use any container as a planter-it just needs holes in the bottom for drainage.
Written by Sam Luther, a gardening blogger.