July is the coldest month of the year,
and in winter-frost areas, the ground will be covered with frost. But that
will not worry the gardener accustomed to cold-winter gardening. The
gardener who may be in for an anxious five minutes or so will be the one
who lives in the warmer districts, which catch an occasional
"snap" frost for all that.
If the garden does get the stray frost, get up early to assess the extent
of damage done. There will be no mistaking any plants, which have been
frosted. They'll probably be bent over and looking pretty miserable.
and beans are likely to be the worst affected. Shrubs and even some tender
annuals will not be harmed much, but those soft tops of potatoes and
other succulent things are easily damaged. They must now have a light
spraying over with cold water. But you must do this early, before the sun
gets on them, or thawing will cause the frozen cells of the plant to
expand too quickly, and you may lose the plants.
PRUNING FRUIT TREES
The pruning of fruit trees takes precedence over everything this month.
There are two reasons to prune. One is to shape the tree, in its early
years, by inducing it to develop into a nicely balanced specimen, the
branches so spaced that they will make a good framework to carry the
fruiting wood. The other reason is to keep the tree free from dead wood,
which would prove a harborage for pests, and to remove weak shoots and
unwanted wood - branches which may grow into the centre of the tree,
keeping out light and air, and branches which may rub against another.
For your pruning operations you will require a good sharp pruning knife, a
small pruning saw (choose one with a curved blade for preference), and a
pair each of hand secateurs and long-handled pruners or loppers. Before
making the first cut, walk round the tree and examine it from all angles.
It will then more or less tell you just where a little cutting back and
trimming is necessary.
When pruning apples and pears, the idea is to promote
production of as large a number of small spurs as possible, since as they
grow older these spurs will develop into fruiting wood. Apples and pears
fruit on their old wood.
First look for the dead wood and the water shoots. They're no good, so the
sooner they are out of the way the better.
Now you will be left with a tree, which has a lot of leading growths made
from the ends of the branches last season an perhaps quite a number of
lateral shoots, which are probably growing in all directions, some of them
on the outer side of the branches and some right into the centre of the
Cut all that centre stuff out first by pruning it hard back to two or
three buds from the branch from which it sprang. This will leave a little
spur, which is just what you want, for those spurs will develop fruit buds
for next season.
Now cut back the other lateral shoots similarly. There will still remain
those long leaders, and these can now be cut back to about one-third their
length. The final result should be a nicely balanced tree with an open
Now we come to the peaches and nectarines. These fruit on the new wood
produced the previous season, so the pruning process is different. This
makes pruning very simple since the object is to cut away as much of the
old wood as possible and retain all the new wood you can. This means that
you follow the same tactics so far as keeping the tree well balanced and
open-centred is concerned, and reducing the length of the leaders to
reasonable proportions. But there is not the same necessity for hard
spurring back, since blossom will be produced at intervals along the
length of the new wood. It's easy to distinguish between old wood and new
wood. Old wood is weathered and dark; new wood looks fresh and bright.
It's also easy to tell the difference between fruit and leaf buds, since
leaf buds are slim and pointed and fruit buds are round and chubby.
Apricots, plums and cherries should not be pruned at all,
except for the cutting-out of dead wood and possibly the removal of some
awkward branch. Cherries may gum or bleed considerably if they are cut
about much. These trees bear their fruit on twiggy shoots often produced
right along as well as at the tips of the branches so, there really is a
danger of cutting next sea-son's fruit away if you prune them at all
Here are a few more pruning tips:
Be sure all your pruning tools are keenly sharp and clean,
and when large wounds are made protect them by painting them over with
builders' knotting, lead paint, or sealing compound. Then the wounds will
heal over nicely.
Always cut cleanly, just above a good strong bud pointing
in the direction in which it is desired the branch should grow.
Gather up the prunings afterwards and burn them, for
there are sure to be the eggs of insect pests on them, and when all is
done spray them with lime-sulphur.
Pruning of rose trees follows much the same lines.
Cut out all dead, weakly and badly placed wood, then cut back the
remaining stems, to a good outward-pointing bud.
The harder you cut back the more vigorous will be the resultant growth.
Prune a weakly-growing tree severely, to encourage more robust growth,
prune a moderately strong-grower more lightly, and just trim back unripe
wood and preserve balance in those roses which show a natural tendency to
Indoor plants will not require much water now and this should only be
given when the surface of the soil really begins to look dry. Most of the
foliage plants grown in pots make little growth at this season, which is
the resting period. Keep them out of draughts, and clean them. Sponge the
leaves over once a week with tepid water, and when you water them at the
roots use water of the same temperature as the room.
Primulas, cyclamen and cinerarias, now either in bloom or making their
flower buds, will respond well to a little feeding once a week, and these,
will require rather more water than the plants which are more or less
Begonias bloom constantly and you can get
varieties with either single or double flowers.
African Violets are great favorites. Be especially careful how you water
these, and don't get moisture on the foliage.
Another good flowering plant is the Kalanchoe, whilst geraniums make
first-class winter-flowering plants on a sunny windowsill.
WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING IN JULY
Mulch over the tops of beds planted with spring-flowering
bulbs and see that the soil does not become too dry.
This is pruning time for most ornamental shrubs.
All that is normally necessary is to thin out growth somewhat and remove
dead wood. When pruning hydrangeas cut back only those shoots which have
flowered. Many garden shrubs and hedges, particularly Pyracantha and
quince, are host plants to fruit tree pests. When spraying your fruit
trees also therefore spray your roses and other ornamental shrubs.
Sort over the stored Gladioli corms and grade them into
sizes. The larger ones can be planted in beds and borders for blooming in
summer and the smaller cormlets will develop into flower-size corms if
grown on for a season somewhere.
Look for the new season's seeds at your local nursery.
If you have a greenhouse a start can now be made with the sowing of seeds
of begonias, Streptocarpus and Primula obconica for summer flowering.
In areas where lawns come into growth early it is not too
soon to start pre-paring for the new season by thoroughly raking, brushing
and spiking the turf.
All stone fruits appreciate plenty of lime in the soil.
This may now be scattered over the surface. In winter-rainfall areas take
advantage of favorable planting conditions to get in new trees and
shrubs and to transplant perennials.
Loosen the soil between winter-flowering bedding plants
to break up the crust and conserve moisture.
Order seed potatoes in cold areas and make a further
planting for succession in districts where potatoes are a winter crop.
Dig over manure and compost the ground well where it is
intended to make an herbaceous or mixed border in spring.
Cacti and succulents will soon be coming into growth
again and may have their water supply slightly increased.