Summer’s arrived! Let’s give a cheer for rampant growth, roses everywhere and longer warmer evenings filled with the scent of sweet philadelphus. It’s just as well the days are so long now because there’s a HEAP of stuff to do like grass-mowing, summer fruit-pruning, cutting back Clematis montana etc. So let’s get on with it………
Pruning fruit trees
If you have fruit trees, as I have, like apples, pears, greengages, cherries or plums, it’s a great idea in early to mid-summer to prune away a lot of the sappy green growth produced this spring. This type of pruning opens out the foliage to allow air to circulate. Hence it reduces the chances of pests and diseases. Summer pruning is perfect for all fruit trees or bushes that produce their fruit on the previous season’s growth, or on its short spurs.
Old clever-clogs Laura will tell you that this fresh green growth is full of nitrogen, and by taking it off, you’re concentrating the tree’s mind on potassium which it will need to ripen its stems and produce next year’s flower buds. It’s also much safer to prune plum and greengage trees in summer, because pruning in the dormant season is more likely to invite silver leaf disease.
Here’s how to do it. You are looking for the soft green shoots that are starting to turn russet (isn’t that a lovely word!) at their base. Using sharp secateurs, take off the bendy green bit above, and leave the stiffer darker base of the shoot. To slow the upward growth of your tree, cut back all the longest leading shoots by about half to just above a bud. Cut any dead bits right back to healthy material. Obviously leave behind any developing fruit but if there is new leafy growth beyond it, cut that back to two leaves.
You shouldn’t get much regrowth afterwards, so you won’t have so much to do in the autumn and winter – hurray!
One man went to mow
I was thrilled to win an electric lawnmower in a Garden Media Guild Zoom raffle last November! Truly that sort of thing never happens to me as a rule.
It’s a Cobra MX460S40V, and my husband has been putting it through its paces. We’ve always had rugged petrol mowers before, and we were really interested to see how this would perform, not least because it offers a more eco-friendly alternative.
At this time of year you need to mow at least once a week to keep your lawn looking healthy because it encourages the grass to thicken up and spread. In a prolonged hot, dry spell, remember to raise the blades to protect the grass roots from scorching.
The Cobra is light and very straightforward to use. My husband said, with a hopeful and encouraging tone in his voice, that I would find it a cinch, and I did manage a couple of circuits round the flowerbeds to experience the cinch-ness of it. It was indeed quite a doddle after the heavier machines we are used to manhandling. Manipulating the collecting box was easy too, and the resulting cut was incredibly neat and sharp. The battery lasted half an hour of continuous work, so for any large area the thing to do would be to have two batteries – having one charging while you use the other. By and large, we are very impressed and I’ve included a link to the mower at the end.
Many of us do LOVE our lawns – for the look of it, for sunbathing on it, for cricket or croquet even, but try to have at least one corner of it which you leave unmown until the end of the summer, to give seed heads and perhaps native flowers a chance to help our precious pollinators. Strim any strips like this in July and October.
- The flowers of my lovely Choisya are starting to fade, so I shall cut back those flowered shoots, in the hope of a second flush of blooms later on.
- Tidy up good old Clematis montana unless you’re trying to cover a blooming great tree or monstrous garden structure. The flowers will appear next spring on growth they make this summer, so you always need to do any required pruning or controlling immediately after it has finished flowering.
- I have been putting out my little basil plants among my tomatoes- isn’t it convenient that they like the same growing conditions and they taste great together! If you’re planting basil in a pot, there’s a saying that if you put a piece of root ginger in the pot first, the basil will flourish. I’ve never tried it myself, and have no idea why it would work, but I thought it was a curiously interesting tip to pass on.
- My vine was late getting going, but it’s starting to set fruit now, so I shall pinch out the stems at two leaves beyond the developing fruit cluster – I want it to think about fruit not leaves now.
- Do keep sowing beetroot, carrots, chard and salad crops – keep ‘em coming on all summer and well into autumn!
- I’ve been doing some heavy-duty weeding. And I’ve discovered something handy – if you wear a thin glove on one hand, and a thick one on the other, you can tackle the delicate disentangling jobs with one hand, and the prickly ones with the other!
- You can find details of the Cobra electric lawnmower here
NB If you’d like a bit more gardening chit-chat from the3growbags, just enter your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday.