• IvyShepherd

Hardy annuals and tomato plants - This week in the garden

Weekly jobs to keep your garden looking good all year round

Welcome back to my weekly gardening jobs.

August is shaping up to be one of the hottest months of the year for us, as well as our plants and gardens. Our plants are surely suffering with the heat and high temperatures, so sensible watering is key.

As we have had no rain to speak of, try to use grey water to water your plants. Improve your soil with organic matter and this will save water in the long run, as it will retain more moisture.

But as well as watering, don’t forget to spend time enjoying your gardens and here are some jobs to keep you busy in the next week to come.

Sow hardy annuals

Why not consider getting a head start on next years flowers by sowing some seeds now.

If you’ve been collecting seeds recently in your garden, then now is a great time to sow them for next year.

A hardy plant is one that can survive being outdoors in the winter and does not need to be brought in. That being said, it is prudent to keep an eye on the weather forecast and if you’re at all worried about your seeds in the frost, then it is easy to cover them with fleece or a cloche to keep them protected from the worst of the weather.

By sowing hardy annual seeds now, you will be ensuring that the plants can become established over winter and will start flowering earlier in the year, giving you some much needed colour in the garden after winter.

Annuals are fast growing and do all of their growing in one season, flowering and setting seed all in one year. They are great for beds and borders and can provide you with some beautiful cut flowers.

Sow annuals such as briza maxima, cornflowers, nigella, poppies and calendula for some fast, but cheap, colourful impact. Sow directly into the ground or under cover for some protection over winter, to be planted out the subsequent spring.

Look after your hanging baskets

Now that summer is marching on, the summer bedding in your hanging baskets and containers may be starting to look a little tired. By tidying and freshening them up now, this will ensure that they last for much longer, well up until the first of the frosts.

Continue to deadhead and remove all the spent flowers. This improves the look of your plants, but also encourages them to put their energy into producing new flower buds.

As well as deadheading, make sure to regular feed and water your plants, particularly in containers and hanging baskets, as these can become dry very quickly. Check the watering daily and feed every ten to fourteen with a good quality tomato feed.

This will keep your plants flowering with their beautiful displays right up to autumn.

Look out for powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease affecting mainly the foliage of plants, but will also affect the stems and flowers. A white, powdery coating will show on the surface of the plants.

If you have plants such as phlox, delphiniums, honeysuckles, roses and rhododendrons, powdery mildew can become quite prevalent on these plants and is hard to eradicate once there are infected spores in the soil.

The best thing to do to avoid powdery mildew is to practice some good old plant husbandry.

Therefore it is best to maintain good air circulation around your plants, by not planting too densely. Low air circulation can lead to fungal diseases on your plants becoming rife. Take care when planting against walls and fences and pruning regularly also helps to promote good air circulation.

Choosing the right plant for the right place is key. Plant in full sun, unless your plant is a shade lover. Apply a layer of organic mulch to maintain good water retention in the soil, as plants enduring drought-stress are more likely to suffer with powdery mildew.

It is hoped that by following these practices, your plants will stay happy and healthy. Although if you do fall prey to the powdery mildew, as it is a fungal disease, remove and dispose of all infected leaves to ensure the spores are not spread to other plants in your garden.

Continue feeding your tomato plants

Growing your own tomatoes is a great place to start if you’re new to growing your own veg. They are very easy to grow and you will have so many delicious tomatoes to eat too.

Don’t forget to grow some marigolds or basil with your tomatoes, as they make wonderful companion plants and enjoy the same growing conditions as tomatoes. They will help to keep the pests away from your tomatoes and sometimes can increase the yield too. And is there any better pairing in the kitchen than tomato and basil?

Your tomato plants are probably heavily laden with fruits, so it’s all about getting these to ripen and keeping the plants healthy.

Continue to feed your tomato plants every ten to fourteen days with a high potash feed. This type of feed concentrates on fruits and flowers, so a good quality tomato feed will not only keep your tomato plants well fed, but will also work on many of your other garden plants, such as dahlias and summer bedding in containers.

When your plants have about five or six trusses of fruit each, then it is best to pinch out the tops to force the energy of the plant into ripening the fruit and not into producing more green growth.

To help keep your plants healthy, remove the lower leaves to increase air circulation and stop disease from taking hold.

Happy tomato harvest, gardeners!


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