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What to do out there in late summer garden

  • Sow seeds of radicchio in mid-July, in modules or direct to soaked drills. Space plants 23-25cm (9-10in) apart for crisp hearts.
  • Sowings of Swiss chard and perpetual spinach made direct to warm soil from July to September will yield plants to crop from autumn to spring. Spacing affects leaf size but I aim for 15cm (6in) apart.
  • In July, set plants of purple sprouting broccoli 60cm (24in) apart.
  • Inspect lupins. Mature plants don’t live forever and if crowns look poorly now, it is worth taking remaining shoots as cuttings. Some come away with roots and others with a little old crown attached and root quickly in 50:50 multipurpose compost and potting grit.
  • Curb kiwi plants by pruning unfruited side stems after five leaves, and fruiting ones four to five leaves beyond the fruit.
  • Make a final thinning of plums so mature fruits don’t rub together and go mouldy.
  • Take cuttings of pelargoniums to overwinter for next year. Don’t use hormone rooting compounds or cover them with polythene, otherwise they’ll rot.
  • Harvest French and runner beans regularly before they become old and coarse.

Summer pudding

Making compotes, smoothies and summer puddings from home-grown blackcurrants, loganberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries is an achievable aim. All of these berries are top favourites with birds, however, and will need covering as they begin to colour. A fruit cage makes the job easy but if you have them dotted around, fleece or mesh held together with clothes pegs will do instead. A surplus freezes well and you can always let the birds in to finish them off. Now’s the time to plan for new soft fruit canes and bushes by designing fruit cages, conditioning soil, and ordering plants for autumn.

Gardening expert and author of the Quilter Cheviot Gardening Club, Anne Swithinbank.

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Gardening kit

Where rough, trampled ground, potentially harbouring bramble roots, requires cultivation prior to creation of a planting or seedbed, the Mantis Deluxe 4-Stroke Tiller (electric versions are available) will make light work of the job. This retails at around £480 and is small, easy to store, lightweight to use and effective. Most rotavators travel forwards but in this case, a small hole is excavated and the machine positioned ready to operate backwards. Soil is loosened, enabling further root grubbing and ultimately raking to create a neat surface.