May 26: Work on those weeds; look after your lawn
We have had temperatures topping 20C this week, so I am happy to put summer bedding out now, as the risk of late frosts is diminishing rapidly. With all the rain we have had over the last few weeks when garden centres are normally selling lots of plants there are some bargains to be had, so shop around. With the Jubilee and Olympics this year many people are going for the red, white and blue theme. When selecting plants for specific colours you need to select with care and make sure your blue is not purple and your red is not pink.
• The weeds are not so fussy about the weather and have continued to grow well. This is a battle of wills: they grow ever faster and seem to outgrow my plants every time. Therefore I have started to develop areas of the garden for wildlife and bees following in the footsteps of Sarah Raven, and growing native plants to provide nectar for the bees and encourage butterflies and other beneficial insects. This has worked very well and the few packets of wildflower seeds sown at this time last year are already established and coming into flower. With some clever pruning you can have flowers through the summer. For general weed control you can't beat a spot of regular hoeing. The hoe needs to be sharp to limit the effort required. Bob Flowerdew, I believe, sharpens his hoe about every ten minutes when hoeing. This is particularly good for the control of annual weeds such as chickweed and groundsel. An interesting fact about groundsel is that it is about the only plant that, once in flower, will still set viable seed even if its roots are removed. Perennial weeds such as deep-rooted dandelions and docks need to be grubbed out with a sharp trowel or try a dab of round up gel. A totally organic way of controlling weeds on paths and gravel driveways is to use a flame gun. Don't use close to garden plants or you could end up with an early barbecue! Glyphosate can be used to control weeds in areas close to fences or that are hard to get to with a hoe. Glyphosate will kill weeds from the roots up, so make sure does not come into contact with the plants you want to keep.
• Look after your lawn now and it should stay looking good all summer. The main thing is to mow it every week and don't set the height of cut too low, as the longer grass stands up to dry weather much better than short grass. Keep the edges trimmed to give a neater finish, and boost growth and greenness with a high-nitrogen fertiliser.
• Treat roses to beat blackspot and mildew. Use a complete chemical which also controls sap-sucking greenfly, such as Bayer Multirose 2 and feed your roses with Toprose fertiliser. Afterwards mulch with 5-8cm of well rotted manure keeping it clear of the stems. Protect the soft new growth from the attention of slugs and snails with slug pellets or powder. Apply the pellets or powder in fairly small amounts; little and often is the answer. One new idea is to use wool pellets, sold as Slug Gone. Once applied and watered in they swell and form a barrier.