• IvyShepherd

Lupins and rust - This week in the garden

Summer is here

This week, we have been mainly experiencing a heatwave. Many of our garden plants will suffer in the heat, so it is a good idea to keep on top of watering, particularly for our pots and containers.

And also, let’s not forget that the wildlife in our gardens will struggle in the rising temperatures. Why not put a shallow dish of water out for the birds and who knows, but you might find the bees will use it as their local watering hole too.

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

Deadhead lupins Lupins are one of the quintessential English cottage garden plants. There is nothing quite like seeing a bank of lupins in flower, tall and towering above the other plants. And they are so easy to grow and look after, providing you can keep the slugs away, as they love the new, fresh growth that emerges in the spring.

Now that deadheading season is upon us, there is a little bit of maintenance that we need to attend to. When the flower spikes of your lupins start to go over, it is best to cut these back to the ground before they start to put all their energy into producing seed heads. That way, they can instead put all their energy into producing a second flush of flowers for you.

Look out for rust Have you started to see orange spots on your hollyhocks? This could be a sign of rust. It is a fungal disease that attacks mainly the leaves and stem of the plant. It is spread by airborne spores and it is more prevalent during warm and wet weather.

It is very difficult to control, but the best thing that you can do is to remove all infected parts of the plant and dispose of them. This should hopefully stop the spread of the disease to other plants.

You can then spray your hollyhocks with a fungicide, but I don’t generally like to spray anything if I can help it.

Leave bulb foliage to die back This is an important one if you had spring-flowering bulbs growing this year. It might look untidy, but it is best to leave all of the old foliage once flowers such as bluebells, daffodils and snowdrops have gone over. This is because all of this old foliage actually feeds the bulb for next year’s growth. So by leaving this untidy foliage to completely die back naturally, you will be ensuring the success of your flowers for next year.

The onion harvest Onions are a wonderful vegetable to grow your own. With a little bit of maintenance, they are easy to grow from sets and taste so much better.

Now is the time to keep an eye on your onions, as they should be ready to harvest soon. You will know when they are ready because the tops will start to fall over and the onions themselves will poke up out of the ground. They should be a good size by now.

Once the tops fall and the foliage starts to yellow, then you can dig up the onions gently with a fork. You will then need to dry your onions before using them. Place them on a wire rack in a single layer. You can put these outside if the weather is hot and dry. Otherwise, a greenhouse or shed will do. The foliage of the onions should become papery and dry and this usually takes about two weeks.

Happy harvesting, gardeners!


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