And now it is summer…expect rain imminently. Or possibly. Despite a very wet early spring already there are water restrictions in France. You can keep a detailed track of how your commune is affected by any restriction using this website here:
See future blogs/newsletters for drought resistant planting, helping your soil hold water and using a well.
Meanwhile – these are some of the things to be getting on with this month:
Pick soft fruit – if you have currants, cherries, gooseberries, raspberries/tayberries etc then now is the moment to pick them. It is a brief window of opportunity or the birds will beat you to it. Currants, cherries and gooseberries fruit for a brief period only once a year, so pick them when they are at their best, store the crop by conserving/freezing/drying/eating and then give the fruit bushes a good water, mulch and prune to prime them for the next year’s growth. More details about this in our next Edible Garden newsletter.
Continue to sow successional vegetables such as salads, haricots, carrots, beetroot….
Water, water, water when necessary, using old bath water, washing up water and water from a water butt if you can.
Remove dead leaves of spent bulbs. If the bulbs have been planted directly in the ground then you will probably be leaving them there to naturalise, although you may want to lift a few ready to plant elsewhere once the ground softens up in September. If they are in pots then you have three choices. If you want to reuse the pots this season then tip the bulbs and spent compost out. Wash the pot and re-use it. Use the spent compost as a mulch in the garden. Discard any bulbs which are soft or diseased and keep the rest (no matter how small) in a paper bag in a cool, dry place until early autumn when you can start to plant them in the ground.
An alternative is to leave bulbs in the pot in a dry and sheltered corner of the garden and then tip them out and replant them in their new site in early autumn.
This year's tulips and, on the right, an amarylis.
The third option it to leave them as they are, in the original pot, and bring it out to flower again next spring. I don’t recommend this – the display is usually disappointing. Far better to plant this year’s bulbs in the garden and see how they establish and order new bulbs for your pots for next spring’s display.
Soft wood cuttings and rooting using water. Plant growth is vigorous now and it is a great time to take cuttings from the soft wood (new growth). There are many guides to taking soft wood cuttings so I won’t go into the process here except to say that sometimes the easiest thing to do is pinch out a length of new growth (perhaps 10 centimetres long) remove the bottom leaves and any developing flower and immediately put the cutting into a glass of water. Keep it in a light but cool place and with luck little white roots will develop underwater. Once you are happy that it looks strong enough then pot it up with good compost and with enough TLC you will have a robust little plant within weeks. I find salvias particularly successful and so far this year have raised quite a few cuttings already.
Water rooted cuttings of justicia, three species of salvia and seed sown phlomis cashmeriana.
Dead head dahlias, annuals, perennials and repeat flowering shrubs (eg roses) to keep the flowers coming throughout the summer. The exception to this is of course when you want to keep the seed heads on the plant because of their interest or food value to birds and small animals.
Feed roses once the big flush of flowers is past.
Leave the lawn to go brown, it will recover its colour after rain and, after all this is not Wimbledon. And don’t cut the wildflower meadow yet – do this next month when Spring’s
flowers have had the chance to set seed.