This is traditionally the month when the average gardener has his or her mind less on doing the garden than on getting the most out of what summer weather we get. There are still jobs to be done which cannot be avoided – dead-heading, weeding, hoeing, feeding, watering in drought periods, and making sure all stakes, ties and other supports are provided where necessary and are in order – this is the month when thunderstorms usually start in earnest, and gardens where plant supports have been skimped can be laid flat in an hour. However, a lot of July gardening is more what you want to do, if you are keen, than what you have to do.
As far as the ornamental garden is concerned you can take cuttings of pelargoniums, either in the glasshouse, or in warm gardens, outside, and border carnations and pinks. Also cuttings of many perennials including pansies, and semi-ripe cuttings of most hardwood shrubs which will strike from cuttings, outside in pots in sheltered spots, or in a cold frame or greenhouse. Propagate roses also by budding. Propagate carnations, pinks and some shrubs by layering.
- Prune early summer-flowering shrubs (philadelphus, weigela, etc.) as they finish flowering.
- Dry herbs for storage.
- Cut slow-growing and conifer hedges – beech, Leyland cypress, etc.
- Cut the lawn but raise the blades again if the weather is very dry, and leave the clippings on.
- the vegetable garden make the last successional sowings of quick-maturing varieties of peas, lettuces, radishes, carrots, etc., and thin out earlier sown crops.
- Plant leeks and winter brassicas.
- Pick and harvest crops as they become ready. Lift shallots and dry off thoroughly before storage. Harvest and dry off onions. Sow Japanese onions in northern areas.
- Spray main-crop potatoes at 3-weekly intervals with Bordeaux mixture against potato blight.
- Earth up celery.
- fruit. Summer pruning of trained forms of top fruit may be done now.
- Tidy up strawberries that have finished fruiting and make new plants by layering runners.
- Finish pruning plums and cherries.
- Prune blackcurrants.
- Train wall peaches and nectarines, new blackberry and hybrid berry canes.
- Cut out old raspberry canes and thin out and tie in new ones.
- Support heavily laden branches of apples, pears and plums to make sure that they don’t split from the trunk with the weight.
- Pick soft fruits as they ripen.
- Sow cyclamen and any annuals required for autumn and winter flowering.
- Gather tomatoes and other glasshouse vegetable crops as they become ready.
- Remove yellowing leaves from tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.
- Watch temperature, watering and humidity. Give regular liquid feeds.
- Spray against pests and diseases.
Finally, be generous. If you take your holiday this month and are likely to be away for some time, let the neighbours have some of your peas and beans. They will not last indefinitely without getting too old to be really tasty, and you will be popular with your friends! Also, tell them they must pick your sweet peas – if they are not picked regularly, they will stop flowering. Do not forget cucumbers and courgettes, either, the plants will not make any more if they are not regularly picked.