Welcome to our July Garden Notes.
We have had some good rainfalls across the state, which is lovely, but there have also been some severe frosts in some areas which can certainly put stress on our gardens!
Frost, like extreme heat, can cause burning of the soft fresh growth on a wide range of plants, and while this is unsightly it also is best left and not pruned off. We suggest you wait until all risk of frost is passed before doing any pruning as all that will do is encourage fresh new growth which will be even more susceptible to any subsequent frosts. However, there are some things you can do to lessen the possibility of frost damage. If you have frost prone plants, especially succulents, and they are in pots move them under cover. If plants can’t be moved, cover them over with something that will prevent the frost settling on the leaves. Another practice that can be employed is setting up a spray system with sprinklers on a timer to come on in the early morning, this also will help to stop frost forming on your plants. Another technique to help cope with the cold is seaweed extracts sprayed on a plant’s foliage which toughens their leaves.
July is now the month when most of the pruning of deciduous fruit trees and roses takes place. I know a lot of roses are still in leaf, and some like mine have flower buds, but they can still be pruned later this month or if you wish, let them go until next month at the latest. Deciduous flowering ornamental trees should not be pruned now, leave them until after flowering, otherwise all you will be doing is removing this springs flowers. Make sure your tools are sharp and clean, dipping them in a container of household bleach between pruning each plant will help to stop the spread of any disease present from plant to plant. Also make sure you use the right size tool for the right job! Secateurs are good for any stems up to about the size of your fingers, larger than that use loppers and for larger branches and stems use a pruning saw. Trying to cut something too big with too small a tool and you will damage the tool and possibly cause yourself an injury, both things we’d like to avoid.
If you have peaches and nectarines you should start to keep an eye on them toward the end of the month, especially if we get a few warm days. Leaf Curl, a fungus which causes unsightly “bubbling” on their leaves can be controlled if you spray the trees at what we call pink bud stage with a copper-based spray. Just as the flower buds are starting to swell and show colour it’s time to get out there and spray. Thoroughly cover the tree paying particular attention to the swelling buds. If you still get some leaf curl don’t panic, the tree will survive, make sure it is well fed and watered, but you should give it another spray next autumn at about 90% leaf fall.
Lastly, slugs and snails can cause havoc in the garden at this time of the year as they love cool damp weather. If using bait please use it responsibly, you only need a few pellets in an area to be effective or you can go out with a container and collect the nasty snails and slugs by hand. A final reminder to keep on top of weeds as well, they grow no matter what the weather! Rug up and do some hand weeding or spray on a fine calm day.