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July Gardening Calendar

July is often the hottest month of the year and the heat of the sun is reflected in the vibrant reds and golden yellows of summer bedding. Keep your garden looking fresh by regularly deadheading flowering plants and watering flower beds and lawns.

Flowers and shrubs

  • Water runner beans, celery, marrows, courgettes and salads, especially in dry weather.
  • Pick runner beans regularly and courgettes before they become marrows. Make the final pickings of rhubarb and cut any flower spikes that form right down to their base
  • Pick gooseberries when ripe. If they're still very green, small and hard, leave them a bit longer. Some varieties turn red or white as they ripen
  • Lift early potatoes and harvest onions sown last autumn for early crops; pick mangetout, peas and beans
  • Plant out leek seedlings from their seedbed once they are pencil thick, planting them in rows 15cm apart, with about 30cm between each row
  • Place collars of card or carpet underlay on the soil around the stem base of newly transplanted brassicas to keep cabbage root fly away and cover the plants with fine netting to stop cabbage white butterflies laying eggs on the leaves
  • Keep fruit bushes covered with netting, then weave a cane through the bottom edge and peg it down to stop birds crawling underneath
  • Spray potatoes and outdoor tomatoes with Bordeaux mixture or similar to prevent blight. Spray apples and gooseberries with a fungicide to protect against mildew
  • Hoe a little fertiliser into the soil between rows of onions as you weed
  • Peg down strawberry runners into pots of soil to root new plants. Only ever propagate from healthy, disease-free stock. After fruiting, trim off all strawberry foliage with shears
  • Tie in new growth on cordon-trained tomatoes and pinch out sideshoots. Bush varieties can be left to scramble over the soil
  • Thin heavy fruit crops of apples, pears and plums, picking off the smallest or any withered fruit showing signs of pest or disease. Aim to leave developing fruits 10-15cm apart along the stems, perhaps thinning congested spurs down to just a single fruit
  • Sow seeds of vegetables now, including beetroot, cabbages, chichory, endive, kohl rabi, lettuce, radishes, rocket, salad leaves, spinach, spring cabbages, spring onions, swede, Swiss chard and turnips. Sow an autumn crop of peas before mid-July. Sow basil, parsley and coriander

In the greenhouse

  • Damp down greenhouses on hot days
  • Start any cuttings you've taken in the greenhouse - fuschias and pelargoniums are good options
  • Carry on pricking out any seedlings sown earlier in the season, when they have two true leaves they are large enough to handle. Other young plants, already pricked out, may be ready for transplanting to larger pots

Lawn and trees

  • Keep mowing the grass regularly, except during drought. In hot weather, set the mower at a slightly higher level than normal for early summer as this can prevent the lawn drying out and turning brown - although these will recover when the autumn rains come
  • If a completely green lawn is necessary, then use a sprinkler once a week. Place an open jam-jar on the lawn and leave the sprinkler running for sufficient time for 13mm (0.5in) of water to collect in the bottom of the jar. This is the optimum amount to avoid wasting water, while still wetting the grass roots sufficiently
  • July is the last month you should apply a liquid summer lawn fertiliser and it's especially important if a spring feed was not given. A soluble feed and weed product may be useful if there are weeds present in the lawn
  • New areas of grass, sown or turfed in the spring, will need extra watering to keep them going through their first summer
  • Lawn growth slows down in late summer. Raise the cutting height slightly as the month progresses, to help the grass resist the wear it suffers in summer better
  • Brown patches on conifers may indicate an earlier infestation by the cypress aphids. Telltale signs include black sooty mould along the stems and shed skin cases. Once damage is done, conifers can take a long time to recover. Where hedges are affected, prune out brown shoots and tie in neighbouring branches to help fill the gaps

General maintenance

  • Liquid feed plants that in containers and keep well watered in dry spells
  • Mulching borders can help retain moisture and keep down the weeds - this will save a lot of work. A really thick layer of mulch (5-7.5cm/2-3in all over) works best
  • Most perennial weeds are best dealt with in summer when weeds are in active growth. Digging out works but applying a weed killer can be quicker and more practical, particularly for large areas
  • Place conservatory plants outside now that it is warm

Plan ahead

  • Clear algae, blanket weeds and debris from ponds, and keep them topped up
  • Order catalogues for next year's spring-flowering bulbs

Little green fingers

  • Children will love harvesting fragrant lavender this month. Cut the stems that have flowers and dry them on newspaper on a tray in the airing cupboard or hang them up in bunches in a warm, dry, dark room. When they are dried, get the kids to run their fingers up the stems and pull off the lavender flowers. They can be sewn into little bags to keep drawers smelling of summer, which will make great presents for grandparents.