Les’ Patch: Top tips for helping plants survive sun

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Things in the garden are looking great.

I know we are having a very hot, dry spell and have to keep an eye on the plants to see if they are taking harm, but on the whole the plants seem to have survived okay.

During a hot spell raise the blades on the lawn mower an inch or so which will leave the grass a little longer to protect the roots from the heat.

If you decide to water the lawn do it at night because any droplets of water on the grass will act as a magnifying glass which scorches the grass when the sun hits.

If you have a bad patch of ground that has a weed problem there are ways of getting rid of the weeds without a lot of work. One way is to spray with a weed killer based on glyphosate (Round Up or Tumble Weed come to mind). These do not persist in the soil and are perfectly safe for wildlife, humans and soil organisms.

I find these the most effective weed killers unlike some weed killers which kill off only the top growth. These kill the weeds right down to the roots.

Again, unlike some other weed killers which persist in the soil for months, you can plant right away once the weeds are dead and have been removed. Once the ground is clear of weeds keep it that way by mulching, spreading a thick layer of organic matter such as bark or compost.

A planting membrane is best but it doesn’t always look so good.

One idea is to put the membrane down and then design the area by using shrubs and plants grown in containers.

Place the containers in the positions where you know the plants look right, step back and take a look, make any adjustments then place a layer of cocoa shells or gravel amongst the containers.

This gets rid of the weeds and makes for easy and interesting gardening because you can easily change the containers around.

If you have a bay tree growing in a container and it suddenly looks like it may be dying, take the tree out of its container and look at the roots. Pale brown, healthy looking roots are a good sign that you will get new shoots growing from the base. In any case bay trees are worth keeping as they have a habit of suddenly springing back into life.

When scarifying the lawn it leaves plenty of moss, grass and thatch but it is a mistake to use this in the vegetable trenches without first composting it. It will contain moss spores and weed seeds but on the compost heap these are killed off.

Speedwell is a menace when it gets into a lawn although there are chemicals which will kill it off including Fisons Weed Killer, May and Baker Supertox Lawn Weed Spray and ICI Verdone 2.

I have mentioned many times that the spray to use in the fight against pests is Provado Ultimate Bug Killer, but this has now been withdrawn from sale as it contained imidacloprid which has been implicated in the decline of bees.

The spray has now been reformulated into Provado Ultimate Bug Killer Concentrate 2. You may notice several products on garden centre shelves which have a number two after their name – all have been reformulated.

To avoid blight next year when growing potatoes use blight resistant varieties such as Sarpo Axona and Sarpo Mira.

For outdoor tomatoes use Lizzano, Red Alert and Tumbler which all resist blight long enough to produce a good crop or ripen their fruit early before blight tends to arrive.