Midway through summer and time for a reality check in the garden

After all the planning and cost to secure summer floral displays, how sad it is to see them running out of steam at the height of season, all for the want of daily attention.

By Tom Pattinson
Thursday, 8th August 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th August 2019, 5:00 pm
Keep watering the plants.
Keep watering the plants.

Even if your garden is not entered in a competition, surely there’s a case for getting best value for money from the decorative specimens you’ve bought and grown to maturity.

We’re midway through summer and it’s time for a reality check. Are you still watering, feeding and deadheading your plants?

Anything growing in a container must cope with root restriction. This leaves them dependent on whatever water nature or you the gardener provides. There must be a daily routine to check their needs.

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Recent daytime temperatures have been so high that in a matter of hours the compost supporting some container displays has dried out leaving plants wilting.

In such circumstances a quick response is necessary to restore equilibrium and save the day. Too long a delay and plants have more difficulty in recovering.

Wherever possible I use bulky soil-based composts for containers because they retain moisture longer than soil-less types.

The latter composts are useful when large hanging baskets are demanded and there’s concern about wall brackets supporting the weight. That’s when water-absorbing granules added to the growing medium can help.

High performance plants that we demand so much of by way of summer entertainment (ornamental types) or sustenance (fruit and vegetables), will not fulfil their potential on water alone.

Whether grown in containers or the garden, there should be enough mineral nutrients in the compost or soil to support initial growth.

However, there comes a stage where supplementary food is required to take them on to maturity or prolong the season. Organic fertilisers in liquid or granular form fulfil this need.

I use seaweed-based plant food via watering can at the roots of tomatoes on a fortnightly basis. It can also be applied as a foliar feed to ornamentals. A sprinkling of blood, fish and bone fertilizer around plants that need a boost, works well for me in the garden.

Flowering plants are programmed by nature to get on with the process of blooming and forming seeds to perpetuate that species, all within a growing season. It follows that if we interrupt the process by removing blooms, the plant will produce more to meet its goal.