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Jamie Blake's Top July Gardening Tips

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July -gardening -tipsWith summer underway it seemed like a good idea to catch up Bressingham’s head gardener Jamie Blake again. last time he told us all about what he’s been up to over winter and the spring preparations that were taking place in the garden.

Jamie has been working in the gardens for 25 years, many of his earlier early working with Alan Bloom himself - Bressingham Steam & Garden’s founder.

What have you been up to since we last spoke in Winter?

That’s a long time ago.  Weeding is probably the most important one - this year has been very weedy!

We’ve had a mild spring and although temperatures have been quite cool, which usually keeps the weeds back a bit, they don’t seem to have responded in the same way this year.  They still seem to have been growing quite well.

The other key thing we’ve been doing has been the planting activity - that’s digging up and dividing plants, and replanting them.  That started as soon as I could - a little bit in January then all the way up until very early May.

We also have a spell in February when we do our mulching, which is an important thing to help with weed control, moisture retention and overall fertility of the soil.

We mulch with composted bark and aim to do about a quarter of the garden a year.  It’s a huge undertaking where we use 50 tons of bark!

Which 3 jobs should every gardener make sure get done in July?

The key thing for me, in July, is watering.

A lot of people when thinking about the fertility of the soil think of 3 main elements: Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus (NPK for short), but actually the most important things plants need to grow are light, air and water (for photosynthesis).

You can’t do anything about the light, and you can’t do anything about the air - the only one you can do anything about is the water.

It’s very important to make sure you water your plants throughout July and the summer months.  If you neglect that then, particularly for late flowering plants, the problems come very soon (i.e. mildew).

Another important July activity is Dead Heading - removing finished flower heads from plants.

There are few reasons for this, as most gardeners would know, firstly to stop the plant producing seed (putting energy where it is not needed) the second reason is that it prolongs the flowering period.

The other thing is that if you don’t deadhead you potentially end up with lots of seedlings, which you might not necessarily want.

The last big July activity is weeding (again!).  It’s vitally important if you can at least spend half an hour week on this.  Don’t concentrate on making one small patch perfect, but pull out anything you spot that has got flowerheads in flower or that have gone to seed.

Gradually, through the year, you should get on top of it but you have to have a certain mentality of not just weeding one area!

Are you expecting a heatwave or Indian Summer this year?

Given how things are going at the moment I find it hard to think of heat wave is coming.  Overall it’s been quite cool so far.

However, having said that, typically what happens is just when you think a weather pattern is set it all changes!

We’ve had times before when we had a wet spring and we thought it would never dry out and then, suddenly someone turns the tap off and it went incredibly dry.

So based on that I’ve changed my mind.  I’ll go for a heatwave!

Do you have any favourite gardening tips or stories?

Horticulture is such a massive subject we always welcome suggestions and experience from visitors.

If you do, get in touch and let us know – you can also do it on Facebook or Twitter.

By Alastair Baker at 23 Jun 2015, 13:00 PM