6 July - Weather watch

Midsummer madness - July often provides the hottest temperatures of the summer, broken by thunderstorms towards early August. This year, however, having recorded -2 degsC in Scotland at the end of June, it is wise to be prepared for anything and everything. Keep schedules as flexible as possible to make the most of any dry, sunny, warm spells.

Weeds - If you have not kept on top of the weeding, do not despair. A hot dry spell can be used to shrivel uprooted perennials. Weed killers work well at this time of year - a few rain-free days giving a rapid kill.

Vegetables - Make last sowings of any vegetables that can be used late in the season, including beetroot, calabrese, carrots, French beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, oriental greens, peas, radish, spinach, spring cabbage, spring onions and turnips. Plant out any further celery seedlings and earth-up early celery. Consider further sowings of herbs such as chervil, dill and parsley. Cut down part of the mint bed to encourage a second flush of growth. Herbs ready for harvest now are often at their peak. Marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme and tarragon can be cut, bunched and hung for drying.

Fruit - Harvest soft fruit when ready. Summer prune gooseberries and redand white-currants, shortening new side shoots. Complete thinning of apples and pears. Peg down strawberry runners to generate new plants. Begin summer pruning of cherries and plums against walls.

Flower garden - Deadhead and feed roses and check for pests and diseases. Continue cutting back early-flowering herbaceous plants and deadheading as appropriate. After main flowering, cut lupins and delphiniums to ground level to encourage a second display. Stake gladioli and dahlias. Continue disbudding border carnations and reduce shoots on chrysanthemums (not spray varieties or pompoms) to five. Remove dead flowers from paeonies but do not cut back - they need to die back naturally as part of the ripening process.

Shrubs - Where required for size reasons, prune philadelphus and weigelas that have finished flowering.

Lawns - Continue to mow at 6mm for very fine ornamental lawns, 8mm for fine ornamental lawns, 12mm for fine amenity lawns and 25mm for general amenity areas.

Nursery area - Perennials and biennials sown in early June may now be ready to prick out into a well-forked nursery bed.


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