Here are my jobs for the first part of July. Be sure to spend some time relaxing in your garden once you've been busy working in it all day!
Cut back pansies and violas
After their fantastic display in the spring, pansies and violas usually get a bit leggy during the summer. Cut them back hard and they’ll quickly re-grow as neater plants. The new shoots also make great cuttings.
Sow leaf beet seeds
Fancy some rich pickings this autumn? Leaf beet (also known as Swiss chard) looks as good as it tastes. Sow the seeds now and grow the plants in pots or borders. Ruby chard is the prettiest form – the leaves can be cooked like spinach while the stems are good in stir fries.
Now that herbs are growing strongly, it's a good time to harvest some to use later in the year. Pick them early in the day and hang them up in bunches in a shed or garage. Once they're thoroughly dry, store them in airtight containers in a dark cupboard.
Give strawberry plants a helping hand
Strawberry plants will have started to produce runners. Peg down runners so that the tip is touching the soil or compost. Once they've rooted, cut the runners from the mother plant and pot them into 9cm (3.5") pots. By September, they'll be the perfect size for planting.
Lily beetle pest alert
The little red lily beetles seem to be a real problem this year. Left alone, they’ll strip the leaves off lilies within a couple of days. To get rid of them, either squash on sight or spray the plants with Provado Ultimate Bug Killer.
Deadhead delphiniums and lupins
Cut off the old flower spikes of delphiniums and lupins once they've finished blooming. This will help the plants look neater and should also encourage them to produce more flowers. For an extra boost, give them a feed with rose fertilizer.
Tip for growing runner beans
For the best crop of runner beans, keep them well watered, especially during hot weather. To help the flowers set, mist the plants in the late afternoon/early evening.