Resilience: Within the last seven days it has been both too hot and too cold. Big fluctuations in temperature affect small seedlings adversely, then the slugs move in. The peas and broad beans I planted in early June have been decimated. Do not be down-hearted! Just keep on trying again, plant more plants and sow more seeds because, although it feels like autumn, summer and the growing season are still before us. And there are pluses; summer rain after a hot spell can be magical, the smell of the soil, the scent of the flowers, the beads of water glistening on leaves, delightful!
Slug Exasperation: Slugs do drive you mad and I can sympathize if you reach for the poison. Using slug pellets though, should be avoided if at all possible. It not only poisons slugs and snails but the slug’s predators suffer too, so in the end – more slugs! I would recommend a two pronged approach: protect small plants with a physical barrier and try to reduce mollusc population.
The Wall: A barrier around a plant will work as long as the plant is small and does not touch the ground on the outside of the barrier. Plastic slug collars seem to be effective – copper collars need to be kept clean to work well. A clear plastic bottle over the whole plant is fine as long as the slugs are not trapped on the inside. Rings of sharp materials like grit or cinders are not effective in my experience. Fresh Strulch (straw mulch) works best when it is dry, which is unfortunate as the little swine are most active in the wet.
Population Control: Yes, you have to kill them. Chopping in half with a trowel is quick and effective. Stamping on them is not pleasant. Beer traps should be equipped with a beetle escape twig. Remember to empty them often as the dead slugs do get quite smelly.
Harvest time for blackcurrants, red and white currants: The blackbirds are really enjoying the soft fruit, in my garden – I am too softhearted to net the fruit bushes, as I have a horror of the birds getting caught up in the netting. So the race is on to get the berries picked before the branches are picked clean.
Fruit trees: Keep thinning apples and plums to avoid the branches becoming too weighed down with fruit. Prune cherries and plums to remove weak or damaged branches and to create an elegant shape.
Dead head to keep herbaceous and roses flowering. Repeat-flowering roses respond well to a little feed to keep them going through the summer. Keep on top of the weeding.
Multiply: A good time for taking semi-ripe cuttings of shrubby herbs like rosemary, lavender, sage and thyme.
Water trees and shrubs planted in spring: A good soak once a week, even when it is raining will ensure good root establishment and a really healthy vigorous plant which you give you pleasure for years to come. Worth the effort.
Work out: Exercise those muscles by turning the compost heap. It will help speed up composition. Tip the whole lot out, make a huge mess, scoop it back into the bin again. If the material is very dense with green stuff such as grass clippings, add some wet scrunched up newspaper. To rot properly a heap needs to be aerated and slightly damp.
Look forward: Sow biennials such as foxgloves, honesty, stocks, for next year’s flowers.