Michele Martin, Southport Flower Show’s show garden executive, shares her top 10 gardening tips for this summer season
1. Ensure that your hanging baskets and containers are kept hydrated, so water them once a day – twice a day if it’s particularly hot. If they dry out then float them in a bucket of water until the bubbles have stopped. Once they’ve sunk below the surface of the water, drain them off and they’ll be fresh once again, providing that they’re still alive.
2. Ensure that they’re well fed too! Compost used in the spring months will start running low on nutrients by summer so add some when watering the plants. For flowering and fruiting plants you need a high potash feed, such as tomato fertiliser, mixed in with the water according to the manufacturer’s instructons.
3. Remove dying or dead flower heads to encourage others. Leaving dead flower heads on plants will set seed, meaning that they think they’ve produced the next generation and stop making more flowers. For example, annual flowers such as sweet peas require more picking means more production.
4. Keep an eye out for pests and diseases. Nip the problem in the bud by spotting them early on.
5. Before autumn and winter sets in make use of this time to sow any quick salad crops, such as lettuce, rocket or peas.
6. Take inspiration from other gardens. Make the most of garden visits organised by the National Gardens scheme and the National Trust. Not only will you come away with some ideas, but you will also be treated to tea and cake!
7. Take photos of your garden while it’s in full bloom so you know what’s growing where. That way in autumn and spring you’ll be reminded of what’s required, and where.
8. Propagate herbs from cuttings. It’s a great way to save money as most herbs, such as sage, rosemary and thyme, are not long-lived plants.
9. Vegetables need watering every day, especially courgettes, marrows and pumpkins. Early evening and early are the best times, as less water is lost through evaporation. Water the soil, not the plants, in order to avoid soggy foliage, which promotes fungal diseases such as mildew.
10. Order your Southport Flower show tickets in advance and use your savings to treat yourself to a new plant! Dates are 16-19 August so make sure it’s in your diary.