Although gardening can be hard work, it is still immensely satisfying to see your efforts rewarded as your plants thrive. It is the time when most of the plants in the summer garden are in full bloom, the insects are buzzing in the warm air, the roses smell wonderful, and the sun is smiling down at us from the sky. Finally, we can end the day out on the terrace and enjoy an evening view of what we accomplished during the day's work in the garden. It's fantastic.
IN JULY, IT'S TIME TO FEED THE ROSES AGAIN
In July, the roses should be fertilised for the last time this year. This gives the new shoots sufficient time to grow strong and hardy for the winter. In order for your roses to absorb their nutrition properly, work the fertiliser into the soil with a rake. Fertilise only around the rose plants. Then water them. This allows the nutrients from the fertiliser to dissolve and be absorbed by the root system. It's also important to properly care for the soil around the roses: Keep the soil free of weeds and regularly loosen the top layer of the soil with a rose grip or small hoe. This lets the roots breathe more easily and directs the rainwater down into the soil more quickly.
IT'S TIME TO START HARVESTING LAVENDER
If you want to dry lavender flowers, it's time to harvest the stems now. The flowers haven't withered completely yet. Which is ideal. The reason is that withered flower stalks are less durable and crumble easily when dried. There are several uses for harvested lavender flowers: They can be part of a dried bouquet, for example, as fragrant lavender oil for your bath, or in a small bag that you put in your bed before going to sleep. The scent will help you have a calm and restful night. Also, a beautiful glass jar with lavender sugar makes a lovely gift. Here's how to do it: peel off the flowers from 8 to 10 stems and fill a jar alternately with a layer of lavender flowers and a layer of granulated sugar (just under 1 inch thick). Seal the jar and store it in a cool and dark place for 4 to 6 weeks. After that you can remove the flowers by sifting the sugar. You might also need to let the sugar dry out on baking paper. Then simply place the sugar in an attractive jar and you can give it as a gift. Note: the aroma can be quite intense. Use it sparingly.
LOOK OUT FOR PESTS! PLANT PROTECTION IN A KITCHEN GARDEN
Even in July: Stay alert! Protect your plants from pests. In a kitchen garden, leaf miners, cabbage moths, carrot flies and cabbage butterflies can leave their mark. The best way to protect radishes, carrots, leeks and cabbage is to use nets. Use a fine-meshed net, as this will also protect the plants from flea beetles. Flea beetles are small, black, jumping beetles. They nibble so much on the inner leaves of cabbage, and young cabbage leaves, that the plants eventually die. If whiteflies have already made themselves at home among the cabbage plants, the only thing that will help is spraying the underside of the leaves early in the morning with a rapeseed oil-based liquid. The adult insects are not yet active in the morning so this can help get rid of the insects as well as their offspring and eggs.
IN THE FLOWER BED: CUT OFF WITHERED PARTS
Shouldn't plants in a flowerbed bloom all summer? Sadly, many plants don't. But there's a trick: It can help if you cut off the withered flowers and prune the perennials. For example, if you cut back the over-flowered woodland sage a hand's breadth above the ground in July, a second flowering will come within a few weeks. It won't bloom as much as it did the first time, but it's still beautiful to look at. The same applies to plants such as Jacob's-ladder, Virginia spiderwort and larkspur. In the case of phlox and buttercup, however, only the withered clusters of flowers should be removed. This allows new flowers to form from the underlying side buds. A tip: Fertilising with fresh compost soil refreshes tired plants and gives them enough strength to bloom again after being cut.
PROPAGATE SPICE PLANTS IN JULY
If you propagate your herbs and spices now, with the help of cuttings or offshoots, you can enjoy fresh herbs all year round - and for just a small cost. To propagate from cuttings, you can cut the shoots from rosemary, sage, bay leaf and basil. The cuttings should be about 10 centimetres long. Remove the leaves on the lowest part of the cutting and plant it in a pot with planting soil. Since the leaves that remain on the cutting need a high level of humidity, it's a good idea to put a plastic bag over the pot. Remove the bag so that the plant gets air every other day and keep the soil moist. Make sure that there's no water left in the pot. The water would damage the cuttings. Herbaceous plants such as oregano, mint and tarragon are easy to propagate through offshoots, as they often have shoots that bend towards the ground. Anchor such a shoot to the soil with the help of, for example, a steel wire or stone and cover with a thin layer of soil, and roots will soon form on the offshoots. Then you can separate the new plants from the parent plant and let them grow in their own pot.
PUT GRASS CLIPPINGS IN THE COMPOST OR UNDER THE HEDGE
Now you're probably mowing the lawn almost once a week. This means a lot of grass clippings. This can do a lot of good and give the plants a nice mulch even in July. Simply sprinkle the grass clippings under the hedge or around your roses. This will keep the soil sufficiently moist, prevent weeds and fertilise the plants. You can also put the grass clippings on the compost - but then you should mix them with finely crushed twigs and branches. This allows the compost to air out and prevents it from rotting and smelling bad. Also, the nitrogen-rich grass clippings accelerate the decomposition of the woody twigs. Result: a nutritious soil for use in your garden.
TIME TO SOW PARSLEY
If you want to have access to parsley all year round, it's time to sow it now. This way you can enjoy fresh parsley even in winter and early spring. After the seeds have germinated in the cultivation container, plant out your seedlings into pots. You can grow the seedlings in pots until you either plant them outside, or keep growing them on the windowsill in your kitchen. Make sure that there's enough space between the plants. They should be at least seven and a half inches apart. This allows each plant to grow large and strong. Also good to know: The parsley will recover and get new leaves after every time it's cut. If you take good care of it, you'll be able to keep it for a long time.
IMPORTANT: PUT OUT A BOWL OF WATER FOR THE BIRDS
In July, it can get really hot. Now it's the peak of summer. It's not only trees and flower beds that need watering - birds and insects also need water. If you set up a water bowl in the garden for them, they'll be really grateful. A soup plate can also work well. Note: Remember to clean the water bowl every day to prevent disease from spreading through the water. You don't need to use cleaning agents, however. Simply rinse the bowl with boiling water and then refill it with fresh water again. Feel free to put one or two larger stones in the centre of the bowl, as this gives insects a safe landing place where they can also cool off. Remember not to place the water bowl near a bush or hedge, so that the visitors don't become the prey of local cats.