Not a true spinach, New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia expansa)
is invaluable for gardens that dry out in late summer.
Allow 60cm between each plant and sow in groups of two or
three seeds, thinning later. This plant prefers a hot, dry,
sunny situation. Growth is rapid and, when plants begin to
spread, the growing tips should be nipped out so lots of
leafy shoot tips will grow. Cut these frequently and always
cook before eating.
Celery can be planted during the next three or four weeks.
The old method of digging a trench and filling it with
compost or manure mixed with soil before planting has much to
recommend it, but celery will grow well in any good soil.
Keep the plants well watered to prevent them running to seed.
Outdoor cucumbers need rich, moist soil.
Raised beds are best if the soil is heavy. This does not need
to be sophisticated. Make a flat-topped heap, starting with a
couple of sacks of horse manure to a depth of 15cm to 20cm,
then well-rotted lawn clippings or compost and a layer of
soil. A heap about 30cm high is sufficient. Sow seeds in
groups of three at 60cm intervals along the middle of the
Covering with a mini-cloche - a plastic soft-drink bottle
with the top removed is ideal - will speed germination and
shelter seedlings from cold winds.
Once they are growing, remove the covers and control growth
of side shoots by cutting them off, one leaf beyond a fruit.
Cucumber plants need regular watering. After rain, feed
fruiting plants with weak liquid manure.
Gardens benefit from regular hoeing, especially as ground
starts to dry after heavy rain at this time of year. Stirring
soil thoroughly allows air and sun to enter and keeps weeds
down. It also reduces the amount of water required as the
loose soil acts as mulch, reducing evaporation of moisture in
Roses appreciate heavy manuring. This can be done by
mulching, watering with liquid manure or top-dressing with
commercial rose fertilisers. Make liquid manure from sheep
droppings or cowpats by half-filling a bucket with raw
manure, topping up with water and leaving for a couple of
Dilute to the colour of weak tea before applying to the base
of the plant after rain or a good soaking with the hose.
Chrysanthemums can have their centres pinched out,
encouraging them to send out three or four strong side shoots
for good flowers in autumn.
Half-hardy annuals, such as asters, French marigolds and
zinnias, can be planted out now, ideally in rich soil.
Fuchsias will benefit from a top-dressing of compost or old
animal manure applied in early summer to keep the soil in
good condition and retain moisture.
Gladioli should be growing strongly now.
Stake the plants if strong winds are expected.
Gooseberry bushes put in this year should be summer-pruned
soon, to build a well-shaped bush and allow sun and air to
penetrate to the centres of the bushes. Shoots growing into
the centre or crossing other, stronger ones should be removed
close to the branch from which they have sprung. Mulch
gooseberries with compost or stable manure and keep the
bushes well watered.
Raspberry canes may have young sucker growths around their
base. It is a good sign, showing the plants are strong and
virile, and bodes well for next summer's fruit. The new
shoots are next year's fruiting canes and should be thinned
and allowed to grow 1m or more.
Plums, apples, pears, peaches and nectarines on heavily laden
trees should be thinned. Unless this is done thoroughly, the
crop will be plentiful but small-sized and often misshapen
because of the pressure from neighbouring fruit. Remove the
centre (king) fruit first.
Thinning is important to maintain balance in double and
triple-grafted fruit trees. If one leg looks weaker, be
brave: remove all the tiny fruit so energy goes into
strengthening the weak leg, rather than into fruit