July 14 - July 21

The weather may be fairly wet but it is still warm, this means that plants in the garden will be enjoying this weather. The weather will encourage plants to really grow well although, this warm damp weather, causes some considerable fungal problems, such as powdery mildew.

The weather may be fairly wet but it is still warm, this means that plants in the garden will be enjoying this weather. The weather will encourage plants to really grow well although, this warm damp weather, causes some considerable fungal problems, such as powdery mildew. These are hard to control once they have got established on the leaves. Use regular treatments of copper sulphate or a fungicide containing carbendazim. These will help to control fungal diseases, although most will not kill the plants but can reduce the crop or cause early leaf fall.

The weather being very autumnal makes me think it is time to think about the need to order autumn and Christmas flowering bulbs. Get on the phone and order autumn flowering bulb catalogues, especially if you want to grow bulbs indoors for Christmas. It is always best to purchase from bulb suppliers and you may well get better value for money by buying in bulk. Specialist suppliers will have stored the bulbs rather more suitably than a garden centre shelf, where bulbs are prone to drying out. Indoor bulbs for Christmas worth trying are Hyacinths, Amaryllis, Daffodils, and Lily of the valley. Bulbs suitable for autumn flowering include Cyclamen, and Colchicum, autumn flowering crocus.

Get some more plants for free; one of the easiest cuttings of all must be from dianthus or pinks. Pinks are a lovely garden addition that you can use in tubs, containers, or as bedding. Once they become established they will self-seed all over the place and are likely their own homes in crevices or walls, as they prefer a well-drained spot to grow in. There are plenty of pinks on offer in the garden centres as bedding plants - so all you have to do is buy one and you can make loads more free plants.

To take cuttings make sure the material you use looks healthy and is from non-flowering stems cut just below a leaf joint called a node. Remove the bottom leaves, trim the remaining leaves back to half their length. Fill cell trays with cutting compost mixed with 50% coarse sand. Insert the cuttings firmly. Water well and then cover with a plastic bag and put on a windowsill or in a cold frame. They should root in a couple of weeks. As soon as you see new growth from the cuttings tips, take them out of the bag. Being grey leaved and hairy dianthus leaves are prone to rotting. Keep in a cold frame and plant out next spring.

Someone said this is the height of summer and tomatoes should be fruiting well now with the set fruit starting to ripen fast. This is the critical time when many of the common problems occur with the tomato fruits, they can potentially succumb to a range of disorders, pests and diseases. But as long as you keep them well watered and fed, keeping a beady eye out fro the start of any problems, you should have no problems keeping the upper hand and you can look forward to a bumper crop of fruit in a few weeks.

The most common pest to look out for on your tomatoes white fly, these are tiny moth like creatures which, feed on the underside of the leaf, which then becomes pale and curls up. The use of yellow sticky traps will help to control them in the greenhouse or spray with an organic pesticide. While it is warm you could also try a biological control method using parasitic wasps.

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Being a big potato growing area, blight is a real problem at this time of year. The leaves and stems develop spreading brown patches, the fruits become darkened, shrink, and then rot. The only method of control is to spray the plants every two weeks with Bordeaux mixture or copper based fungicide, this is particularly important in out door tomatoes, to prevent blight getting a hold.

Greenback is a sign of too much sun not much chance of that this year but it is possible. This is caused by a lack of potassium and causes the area around the stalk to stay green when the rest of the fruit is ripe. The cure is simple shade the plants from direct sunlight and feed with a high potassium tomato feed.

Tomatoes splitting is a sure sign that they are being watered irregularly, this can lead to the skins turning hard and then splitting to reveal the inner pulp of the fruit. Combat this by watering regularly and never allowing the soil to dry out.

Blossom end rot is another common problem with tomatoes; this results in the tomato developing a blackened sunken end. This is the result of the fruit being unable to access calcium in the soil, either because it is too acidic or because of irregular watering. Control by removing affected fruits and never let the soil dry out.

When you are full of holiday plans it is easy to forget the garden, but just before you leave, cut the lawn, as this will ensure the garden looks tidy and while you are away it is less of a sign that the house is empty. Ensure pots and hanging baskets are watered by friends or put out of sight as these will deteriorate quickly.

Keep on weeding, the weather we have had recently is ideal for growing exhibition size weeds, so keep the hoe busy knocking out the weed seedlings before they get going. Watch out though as some weeds can cause an allergic reaction usually on your skin, especially in very sunny weather. I have known people to blister at the touch of some fairly common plants like strawberries. As a general rule if the plant produces any kind of sap flow from cut surfaces you need to be very careful, white sap is a particular problem for many people.