• IvyShepherd

Lavender and sweetcorn - This week in the garden

Weekly advice to keep your gardens looking good all year round

Welcome back to my weekly gardening jobs.

We are in the middle of summer and there is still plenty to do in our gardens. There is a lot of plant maintenance needed at this time to keep everything looking tidy and productive. This is important, but why not try leaving some areas of your garden untidy and wild.

By leaving some areas wild, this is so beneficial to our garden wildlife. Birds, bees, insects and so much more can benefit greatly just by doing this small thing for them. It provides food and shelter for them and this will ensure that they keep coming back to your garden year after year.

In the meantime, here are some jobs to keep you busy in the next week to come.

Happy gardening, folks!

Harvest sweetcorn

There is nothing quite like growing your own home grown sweetcorn. I love to see sweetcorn growing tall and strong in their rows and they taste so much more fresh and delicious.

They might seem difficult to grow, but with a little bit of care and maintenance, you will soon have tall and towering sweetcorn in no time.

At this time of year, sweetcorn is usually ready to be harvested. If you look at the tassels on the cobs, you will know if they are ready if they have turned a chocolate brown colour.

Take a kernel and pierce it with your fingernail. If the liquid is a creamy colour, then the cobs are ripe and ready to be harvested. Twist and pull from the stem.

Sweetcorn is best eaten soon after picking, so harvest only when needed.

Cut back lavender

Lavender is such a wonderful plant to grow in the garden. They are fragrant and attract so many bees and butterflies. They have a long season of flowering, so this is a great source of food for our garden pollinators.

They even have some magical companion plant powers, in that their strong fragrance can help to deter pests to your garden. They look fantastic planted amongst roses and help to keep the bugs away at the same time.

However you might find now though that your lavender flowers are starting to go over. All is not lost, as you can cut these flower stalks back to the foliage. This will then encourage the plant to produce a second flush of flowers, ensuring a longer flowering season and providing a later source of rich nectar to the pollinators in your garden.

Stop harvesting your rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of my favourite plants to grow in the garden. Not only is it a herbaceous perennial, but it produces the most wonderful crop of stems every year that can be enjoyed throughout summer.

If you like eating rhubarb, then it is well worth growing a few plants in the garden, as they are so easy to grow and care for.

However at this time of year, it is best to stop picking your rhubarb and leave the remaining stems. This is to ensure that we do not over-harvest from the plant, which will weaken it and make it less productive for the following year.

By leaving the remaining stems of rhubarb plant intact, this will feed the plant and build up reserves for the following year’s crops. This is just like how we would leave the foliage of spring bulbs to die back in order to feed the bulbs for the next year.

To get an earlier crop next year, why not try forcing your rhubarb plants in January, so that you can get a crop of sweet, lovely rhubarb around March.

Prune raspberry canes

If you have summer fruiting raspberries, you have probably been picking and enjoying your lovely fruits.

But after cropping, there is a little bit of maintenance to carry out to ensure that your raspberry plants stay healthy and productive.

If we do not prune out old stems of summer raspberries, then they will start to become overcrowded and produce poor fruit that are a little on the small side.

So it is best to prune out all these old stems that have carried fruit this year. The new, green stems that may have already started shooting up will produce the fruit for next year. You will be able to tell them apart from the colour, as the old, fruited stems will be brown.

After cutting out all of the old stems, next take out any stems that are damaged or overcrowded. Then tie in all of the remaining, new growth to your supports.

Happy harvesting, gardeners!

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