Find your green finger: Tips to improve your garden this summer

John Shannon. INLT 13-802-CON
John Shannon. INLT 13-802-CON

John Shannon of Inver Garden Centre, Larne, provides some handy advice for gardening in August:

1. Keep feeding hanging baskets and containers filled with summer bedding; this prolongs their flowering period. Use a high potash feed such as phostrogen or tomato feed. Keep baskets and containers well watered even after rain as the foliage can act as an umbrella keeping water away from the roots. Dead head regularly to stimulate more flowers.

2. Give roses a final feed using Westland rose food; this should keep your roses going up to late November. Continue to spray roses every two week to control black spot, mildew and rust.

3. Tomatoes should be starting to ripen now; remove the growing tip, any fruit formed after the middle to August will not ripen. Remove the lower foliage to improve air circulation so the sun can ripen the fruit.

4. There is still time to sow spring onions, radish, carrots, beetroot, salad leaves, pak choi there are also some vegetable plants still available in the garden centre. Winter cabbage and spring cabbage.

5. During wet spells don’t forget the slug pellets on newly planted vegetable and bedding. There are organic alternatives available.

6. Spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, tulips are now in stock. Plant in groups for maximum impact. All bulbs like good drainage so use grit in the bottom of the hole.

7. Herbaceous plants are a group of plants which die off at the end of the season, they are usually very hardy and will return the following year. Once these plants have finished flowering, cut off the dead flowers to prevent the plant from wasting energy producing seed. If the foliage is looking untidy, cut the whole plant to the ground and give a late feed with phostrogen.

8. Start feeding camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas to stimulate flower buds for next spring, especially those plants in containers.

9. As the summer draws to a close, weeds begin to slow down in terms of growth. Now is a good time to spray the more difficult weeds such a brambles and mare’s tail. Spray every 10 days on a dull, calm, dry day until the weeds are dead.