Late summer gardeningAlison Marsden
By high summer it is tempting to ease off the gardening work and I would not deny anyone a well deserved rest. But there are a couple of tasks that will keep your garden in good health and giving a great display right through to the end of the season.
The first of these is deadheading. The object is to keep a plant flowering to the end of summer by removing the dead flower head before seeds form. You need to cut the stem below the base of the flower, and ideally down to where a leaf or shoot is growing out so you are not left with a length of dead stalk. The time to stop is when you reckon the last flowers of the season are out so that seeds will mature and provide a source of food for birds in winter.
The second task is, not surprisingly, watering but comes with my annual reminder that there is no need to water an established lawn. Yes the top growth may die off, although this is less likely if you leave the sward a bit longer. But it is almost impossible to completely kill the roots and your lawn will quickly green up again when it rains. The exception is where a lawn is in its first year and has not yet rooted well into the ground. The usual hosepipe restrictions may result in quite a lot of watering cans in this case!
The advice about focusing watering applies to all plants new in the ground this year. Plants always grow their roots before putting energy into top growth – nothing happens in a plant without water (and dissolved nutrients) entering through the roots. Strong roots that reach down into the lower levels of the soil can draw water up when the surface is dry. Once this has happened, plants are much more resilient to dry spells. The recent experience of dry periods in summer punctuated with heavy rain and storms makes capturing rainwater in water butts even more practical and useful. One night’s rain can refill butts and enable you to continue watering vulnerable plants and crops.
Happy Gardening from Alison