Roehampton Garden Society

RHS top 10 tips for caring for your garden in this hot dry weather

With the recent wave of hot, dry weather across the UK you might have noticed your garden starting to wither. RHS Chief Horticulturist, Guy Barter, has some top tips for caring for your garden at a time when water is at a premium.

  1. Trees may shed leaves indicating stress but it is seldom fatal. Established shrubs, roses and climbers don’t usually need watering either.
  2. Consider re-using water from your home. Wastewater from the kitchen, baths, basins and showers is suitable to water plants and containers.
  3. Water newly planted trees and shrubs as a priority. Ensure the root ball is wet, checking with a trowel if necessary.
  4. Where planting is essential and can’t be delayed; puddle plants in, fill the planting hole with water (or better, ¼ strength liquid fertiliser) and allow to drain several times before setting out plants.
  5. A good soak, to wet the root zone, every 10 days in July and 14 days in August is best. Watering little and often is generally more work, less effective and wasteful of water. However, a ‘good soak’ can mean the equivalent of four 9L / 2gallon watering cans per square metre / yard.
  6. Move small pots and hanging baskets into the shade. Suspend hanging baskets over a potted plant so run-off water gets used.
  7. Lawns may brown, but although the leaves die the grass remains alive, ready to regrow once the rain returns. So watering them is not essential.
  8. Greenhouses, conservatories and polythene tunnels easily overheat. So boost shading and even remove some panes of glass to reduce temperatures.
  9. Target water where it is most needed. Camellia and rhododendrons lay down buds in late summer, so a good soak every so often then will help.
  10. Warmth will speed up composting so there should be plenty of excellent compost this winter. Add some water, however if the mix looks dry.

Read more about Making your garden more drought resistant

A new reading group this summer

     An invitation to reading group sessions on nature
at the Pump House gallery in Battersea Park

The Reading Group is a free, informal group, open to all ages and we would be happy to see Roehampton Garden Society’s members join us as we discuss the natural and cultural state of our landscape. All reading material will be provided and it is not a requirement for participants to read the texts prior to the sessions.

Please find the links to more information about the upcoming three sessions below:

Reading Group: The idea of wilderness, 28 July 2018, 3 – 5pm

Reading Group: Plant colonialism and the emergence of new ecosystems, 25 August 2018, 3 – 5pm

Reading Group: The democratic landscape, 22 September 2018, 3 – 5pm

Pump House Gallery is managed by Enable Leisure & Culture on behalf of Wandsworth Council.

August jobs on your allotment

  • Sow green manure crops such as mustard to dig in during autumn.
  • Sow oriental vegetables such as mizuna, pak choi and mustard greens for salad leaves- they bolt less at this time of year.
  • Sow parsley to last through till spring and basil on a sunny windowsill.
  • Sow Swiss chard and perpetual spinach at the beginning of the month.
  • Make a last sowing of beetroot at the beginning of the month.
  • Sow fast growing ‘catch crops’ for autumn use, such as radish, lettuce, rocket and turnips.
  • Plant out winter brassicas, broccoli, kale and cabbages in limed soil to reduce club root infestations.
  • Plant new strawberries now, either as detached runners or new plants.
  • In dry weather keep runner beans well-watered twice a week to aid setting.
  • To reduce risk of tomato blight, water directly onto the roots not the leaves.
  • Harvest sweet corn when a grain exudes milky juice when tested with a fingernail.
  • Harvest onions and shallots when the stems are dry and papery.
  • Start harvesting runner beans, parsnips and cucumbers as ready.
  • Complete harvesting of second early potatoes and begin to harvest main crop potatoes as they begin to flower.
  • Harvest early ripening apples and pears.
  • Summer prune trained fruit trees such as fans, espaliers and cordons.
  • Prune plum and damson trees after fruiting.
  • On grape vines shorten fruit bearing branches to two leaves beyond the fruit bunch.
  • Prune out fruited canes of summer raspberries.
  • Tie in new canes on raspberries and blackberries.
  • Keep protective insect mesh on carrots until autumn.
  • Cut back chives if showing signs of rust and new shoots will quickly appear. Remove mint plants showing signs of rust. The disease will persist over winter and re-infect new plants next year.
  • Pick off and destroy rosemary leaf beetle that are active at this time of year.
  • Divide clumps of chives.
  • In the greenhouse avoid splashing water onto leaves.  Moisture triggers spore germination of fungal diseases.

July jobs on your allotment

  • Hoe off weeds on bare soil, water well then cover with mulches to prevent moisture loss, for instance, pile grass clippings onto layers of newspaper.
  • Add material to compost heaps, mix greens (nitrogen rich) with browns (carbon rich) at 50/50 ratio.
  • Water heaps if dry and turn to speed up decomposition.
  • In early July continue to sow beetroot, chard, perennial spinach, kohl rabi and turnips for autumn harvesting.
  • Sow dwarf French beans.
  • Sow kale for early spring harvesting and rocket for autumn harvesting.
  • Sow beetroots Choggia or Burpees Golden for autumn eating.
  • Plant specially prepared potato tubers for Christmas crop.
  • Finish planting out leeks.
  • Remove the main shoot on cordon tomatoes where they hit the greenhouse roof, or a leaf or two above the seventh flower truss.
  • Water soft fruit and fruit trees during dry spells to encourage good fruit development.
  • Water courgettes consistently so they continue to flower and crop.
  • Mulch brassicas after rain to lock in moisture and nutrients and lessen the effect of club root.
  • Prune cherries and plums after fruiting.  Remove weak, damaged and crossing branches.
  • Pinch out climbing beans once they reach the top of supports.
  • Once harvesting of summer fruited raspberries is finished, cut old fruited canes to ground level and tie in new, healthy canes to supports.
  • Summer-prune red and white currants and gooseberries. For gooseberries trim back all side shoots to 3 or 4 buds from their point of growth and cut out shoots that cross into the middle f the bush.

News from Putney Community Gardens

The gardening course: is back on this Sunday from 10am – 12 at Boyd Court (SW15 3DD) with Martin Cobley. This week (17th June) we’ll be looking at the composition of soil and maintaining healthy compost. If we have time we’ll be diagnosing our wormery and looking to nursing it back to health.

Watering: is needed! It’s getting hot and the beds could do with an extra watering every now and then. So if you’d like to help out, either at the beds or at the orchard or both, drop us a line and we can talk you and walk you through it. Some of the core gardeners will be away for some time over the summer so any extra hands on deck would be swell.

Youth workshops: On the 25th and 26th of June, together with Regenerate Youth Club, we’re running a couple of gardening sessions with young people from Putney Ark Academy in our community garden. If you’d like to volunteer to support these sessions, please do get in touch.

Sunday gardening: sessions are still on weekly from 10am-12. Meet us at the orchard on the corner of Carlslake Road and Tildesley Road.

Finally, look out for us in this month’s Homelife Magazine! Contact us at