With this recent cold snap of weather, July might seem like an idea time to stoke up the fire and work on your ‘mental garden plan’ for the upcoming months. But in fact there are still many outdoor tasks you can tick off in your garden.
Your compost heaps will be due for a turning over now. You can cover compost with old carpet or plastic bags to help maintain its heat during the winter months. And to keep off the rain, cover it with an old sheet of corrugated iron or polythene. Add lime to your compost to keep it from smelling, and blood and bone to fertilise it.
Keep raking the leaves from your lawn. Leaves can also be added to your compost heaps or bins. To get leaves to successfully break down into compost, first shred them with your lawnmower then add plenty of manure. Regularly turn your leaves in the compost for a faster breakdown into compost.
Depending on where you live, it will be time to prune your roses. Those in Auckland and north might already have done it. And those down south might not need to prune until early August. Pruning roses helps keep them at a controllable size in our garden. Pruning the dead and diseased growth encourages the rose to produce more new growth. Roses can start shooting from August. Get them ready by adding lime to the soil to sweeten it. Now is also the time to add some organic manure. For some tips on rose pruning head along to one of the NZ Rose Society’s pruning demonstrations. There are still many live demonstrations scheduled around the country in July and August. And they are usually free too.
Spray your deciduous trees (the trees that lose their leaves every year) with lime sulphur.
The lime sulphur acts by burning off the over wintering fungi and pests, including mites. It’s very important you do this for gooseberry bushes because they are prone to catching mites which can eat out the flower buds, meaning your bush ends up with no fruit. Luckily, the lime sulphur will get rid of those mites.
Don’t apply it to your apricot trees because they can be sensitive to lime, so it’s best just to avoid it.
Planting wise, if you haven’t already July is the time to get your shallots and garlic in. If you’re wanting Christmas potatoes now is the time to start preparing your soil. Dig your soil over and add some lime. If you don’t have many winter veges in your garden consider planting a cover crop like lucerne or mustard. (But don’t grow mustard if you’ve had a problem with club root in the soil, as it’s part of the same family that is affected by club root.)
These crops benefit your garden by providing a natural fertiliser to your soil by adding nitrogen. When spring arrives merely dig these crops over into your soil.
Its also a good time to look at your herbaceous perennials – plants that have no woody stem above ground. These would have started to die but their roots still survive. Now you can dig them up, split the plants in half and replant - excellent for enlarging your garden.