July 2013


Suddenly KAPOW! Summer is well and truly here. Off comes the slanket and up roll the gardening outings, full on, like a tidal wave. I keep trying to surface for air, but have now surrendered to the delight of being out a lot.  I feel truly revived from the unseasonal ennui at the beginning of this year.  I have also been enjoying the many roses and being eaten alive by the many busy insects.  While gardening only yesterday I was accompanied by the dulcet tones of Ranina greeting the marching ants, apologising to them for disturbing their home, trying to placate them with promises of being quick and moving on, then a wonderful tirade of such language that there isn’t a watershed late enough to ensure the audiences ears wouldn’t bleed!  So while you are out there enjoying your own roses and fighting  your own battles with the myriads of mini-beasts, let me offer you a few choice jobs to tackle.  For my burble bit I have revisited and updated an old newsletter green roof piece so it will be on our website forever, and as Matt (a newsletter contributor and well known Monday-only-plot-gardener) is in the midst of creating his own green roof at home I thought I’d offer up some advice, as I know  that will really annoy him!  As for outings you’ll need to tether me down, I have topped up my Oyster Card and am raring to go so let me offer you a few July adventures to go and delight in.

Seasonal Jobs

This is the month for relaxing and enjoying the garden. So please get out there and strategically place your deckchair so you can’t see those jobs that need doing, then enjoy a drink in the sun. If you are insisting on doing something then you could tackle these:

  • Prune your evergreen hedges and shrubs for the last time this year.
  • Keep mowing. If you have thin light soil, then now is the time to give your lawn a high phosphate feed.
  • Prune your wisteria. Cut the wispy new growth back to five or six leaves. Make sure that isn’t clambering into your drains or covering your windows.
  • As your plants produce aubergines and courgettes take the time to prop the fruits up on bricks to stop them getting all soggy. This also keeps them out of reach from pests.
  • This is the season that we are throwing mowings onto the compost heap so add some dry newspaper to stop creating a mushy stink.
  • If you have raspberries that finished fruiting, then they are summer varieties and you can cut the canes that gave you the fruit back to the ground. This leaves the new shoots to give you your crop next year.
  • Sow winter spinach outside.
  • Keep cutting off faded flowers.
  • Remember to water vegetable regularly as irregular watering is the most likely cause of vegetables with brown bottoms, fruit just dropping off before they ripen and also fruit splitting.
  • Feed tomatoes. As soon as outdoor tomatoes have made four trusses of flowers, stop them from growing further by pinching out the tip of the main stem.
  • Collect some seed from your garden. Have a look below for some tips.
  • If it stays hot and dry then it is a great time to paint your fences, varnish your outdoor furniture and fix greenhouse glass.
  • Keep deadheading flowers, as once a plant has set seed it will figure it’s done it’s job and stop producing anymore flowers.
  • Feed all your plants that are in full growth. Read the label of your chosen food carefully before applying as overfeeding can be as bad for a plants as underfeeding – and if you are like me you’ll err on the generous side, so don’t!
  • Keep your greenhouse well ventilated and it would help if you occasionally spray the paths and walls (damping down) do this in the cool of the evenings.
  • Feed and train your cucumbers.
  • If you have outdoor grape vines keep an eye out for mildew. Thin fruit and keep the vine well watered, put on a good top dressing of well rotted manure.
  • Keep – or start – sowing lettuce, radish, main crop peas, herbs, French beans, beetroot, kohl rabi, spring onions and carrots.
  • This is the month when you can prune your plum and cherry trees, but only if they need it. Contact me if you want a quote.
  • Thin apples and pears. Leave one or two per spur and you will be doing your tree and you taste-buds a huge favour.
  • Peg down your strawberry runners then you will have lots of free plants for next year.
  • Tidy up your strawberry bed and maybe thin it out a bit.
  • Give your roses a gentle summer prune, taking flowered stems back to two leaves.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for all those garden pests, such as red lily beetles, slugs and snails and kill, kill, KILL, or see how far you can chuck them.
  • Hoe your borders and keep the weeds at bay.
  • If you need any help, advice or encouragement then please get in touch.

Green green roof of loam…or sedum:

A green roof is very fashionable. If you watch Grand Designs you will bump into a sedum or a turf roof about every four programmes! There is a good reason for this though. They are great for wildlife. Look gorgeous. Absorb water and carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. The roof also provides insulation (keeps the interior at least 10 degrees cooler in the summer) and is expected to last twice as long as a traditional roof (about 40 years). But you don’t have to go the whole hog and reroof your home. Why not start small and pop a sedum roof on a bird house, then a bird table, move on to the kennel, then the play house, the tree house and then a shed, they’ll be no stopping you then…

You can turf any flat roof or onto a roof with a slope of up to 20 degrees.

VERY VERY IMPORTANT you do need to make sure it can take the weight! Fragile flimsy, half rotten old sheds really won’t be happy, you’ll need to repair or replace it before you continue. But a healthy roof, if you see what I mean, won’t have a problem.

First lay and pin on a waterproof liner – bytle pond liner is ideal.

Next comes two different approaches. You can either make a frame, pop in some sandy soil and then plant sedums, you need about 50g to cover a square metre. Or you can pin on a bit of fleece to hold moisture but aide drainage and lay a roll of prepared sedum. Before you lay a roll you will need to put a wooden edge around your roof, this stops it sliding off, and also gives a neat finish to all the liner and fleece that was just hanging around. If the area you are covering is very small the fleece may well be just an annoyance – and I would recommend making a frame.


McLaw supply 1 metre squares at £23
Sedum supply is a great website with great mixes and along with other more exotic mixes they sell a sedum starter pack for £23 a metre square, beginning to see a financial pattern forming here.
Oh here we go I’ve broken my newly found financial pattern as sedum blanket offer a metre square for £19 and it looks gorgeous!
Or if you want to recreate the roof on the Hornimann Museum (and who wouldn’t) then your best bet would be a seed option. Sandy Soil Wildflower mixture, and Sandy Soil Grass Mixture are both up to the job you will need to be using 20g wildflowers per 100gs grass and you’ll need 100g of seed to cover 30 square metres. Remember you would need to get up and cut back your meadow twice a year. So this one is a little more work.

Or if you have a more hunter gatherer approach to gardening then you’ll want to go out looking for your plants. You want to look for low growing sedum varieties.These plants also do really well: 
Pulsatilla vulgaris, Pasque flower, Armeria, Thrift, Festuca glauca, Blue fescue, Alpine saxifrages, Sempervivum, Echeveria, Ferns, Mosses, Wood Sorrel – choose the best plants for the situation your roof is in.

If I have whetted your appetite but you want more information then let me steer to you back to the sedum supply website and the sedum blanket website they seem to know what they are doing and do it in a very helpful, inclusive way.

We’ve got ourselves a reader:  Try ‘Small Green Roofs’ by a few authors but my favourite of the bunch is Dusty Gedge, not for their contribution but just for their name.  Bear in mind Edmund C Snodgrass was a contributor to this book so I will go on to mention his book Green Roof Plants, as it seems he was unfairly pipped at the post, in my own gleeful, but shallow competition of good names.

If you find yourself getting obsessed then I’m afraid you have missed the 2013 International Green Roof Congress in Hamburg Germany as it was in May, but I’ve had a bit of a look and I think the 2014 congress maybe being held in Sydney, Australia…..shall we save up?



Days Out


Oooh it is national shed week from 1st-6th July.  Who has won the shed of the year? I can’t really think of an outing to celebrate this momentous week as it is more of an in-ing.  So go to your shed, light that pipe, think about sheds and enjoy your shed.  It does, however give me a great opportunity to steer you to one of my favourite websites shedworking, it links nicely to the green roof theme and I want to make a nest, but am not too keen on their ‘twigitecture’ lable.

Ham, ham, Hampton Court time, it is on from 9th to 14th July, there are tickets available. How can that have been a year ago?  Three of us plotters had a great day out last year.  Delighted in the bees, got some great ideas for small places, oh and most enjoyed the boat ride over. 

the Lambeth Country show is in Brockwell Park on 20th and 21st July. It is free, it has horticulture listed as an event!  It is in it’s 39th year and even more important than that is a mere one bus ride away from us in Crystal Palace, so lets hop on the 196 and go have some fun.

From 27th July to 4th August it is Love Parks Week. I am slightly worried by the websites tally count as today it says – last year we had 1,100 events and this year we have…. drum roll……..build of excitement….keep looking……we have……23! Then it wouldn’t tell me if any of the 23 events were in our area as I was too early.  So good luck with that.