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10 gardening tips for July

Magazine
There is always something to do in the garden. Find out what you should be looking out for in July below.

The top ten — everything you need to know

Fertilising berry bushes:
If you have harvested the berries from your bushes, a little fertiliser will work wonders: use either 20 grams/square metre of complete fertiliser or 1.5 litres/square metre of compost. You could also try berry fertiliser — please refer to the manufacturer specifications. If possible, ensure that there is more potassium than nitrogen in your fertiliser, as this will help with xylem development. Do not carry on fertilising your berry bushes after July is over or else the shrubs will continue to grow into the autumn.

Planting strawberries:
It's best to replace your strawberry plants with strong, young plants after two to three years of yield. Before planting these from the end of July, acidify the soil slightly by raking over plenty of peat or bark humus. When choosing between varieties, stick to types of strawberry that are cultivated specifically for domestic gardens. These types are more suitable for snack gardens and kitchen gardens than the types you often find in garden centres, which are for growing in fields.

Stocking your vegetable garden:
To start off the second half of the garden year, lettuces, endive, kohlrabi, spring varieties of bush beans and carrots can still be planted in July. They'll then be ready for harvest around September.

Watering evergreens:
If July is going to be hot and dry, evergreen plants will benefit from being watered thoroughly once a week. This is especially true for plants that thrive in wet environments like bog gardens, such as rhododendrons, blueberries and redvein enkianthus. "Thoroughly" watering these plants means using 10 to 15 litres of water per square metre.

Harvesting lavender flowers:
July is lavender month. As soon as the first buds open at the bottom of the flower head, they're ready for harvesting. Cut off the entire flower stalk. Arrange them in bunches before cutting them to length. Lavender flower bouquets are great for adding fragrance to bathrooms, living rooms and linen cupboards. Lavender flowers can also be used to flavour white caster sugar or add depth to creative cooking — try adding it to cookies or using it to season roast pork.

Managing phlox plants:
Selecting several different types of phlox plant that bloom earlier or later than each other is just one way to extend how long you can enjoy these flowers in your garden. If you cut the budded shoot of these perennials back slightly, this will force the plant to start a new growth — meaning it will bloom later.

Cutting back delphiniums:
Cutting your delphiniums right back to the ground after they've bloomed means that they can bloom again in September. Once you've cut them back, "feed" these perennials with a litre of compost per square metre.

Caring for yellow onions:
By the time mid-July comes around, yellow onions have reached their final size and colour (these will vary depending on variety). You'll know they're ready for harvest when their foliage starts to topple over horizontally. The leaves then begin to diminish. Once the foliage has turned completely yellow, remove the onions from the soil and dry them out for a few days on a dry surface with plenty of sunlight (e.g. on a garden path). Keep them well ventilated and turn them occasionally. Then clean the onions and store them in a cool, dark and dry location.

Pruning gooseberries:
It's best to cut back your gooseberry bushes as you harvest the fruit during the summer. To create more room for growth on the shrub or the main head, simply cut off the oldest shoots with the ripe fruits still on them. This will allow more air to get to the gooseberries and causes them to grow new fruit buds. It also allows you to pick the fruit from the twigs quicker and easier — and with less risk of pricking your fingers.

Encouraging sweet pea flowers:
Fragrant sweet peas are among the most distinctive of the summer flowers thanks to their rich colouring. Now that they're starting to climb up anything they can in your garden, here's a tip for getting as many flowers as possible: Simply harvest as many flower stalks as possible, and do not let the ones you've left germinate once they've bloomed. This will cause the sweet pea to bloom with more vigour next time.