July is better spent indoors and is certainly not the time to undertake any big outdoor projects! The recent rain will recharge the ground water, hopefully we'll continue to get more before the spring work starts.

As the ground is now very wet it's important to avoid digging or planting until the moisture in the soil dries out a little. This prevents damaging the structure of the soil.

Lime can now be applied to the vegetable garden. Aim for a ph of about 6.5 (usually about once every 3 - 4 years) which is ideal for most vegetable crops.

Bare ground will benefit from the addition of compost or other organic matter, it can be dug in once the conditions are suitable, nearer spring time.

Strawberry plants are now available but as the ground is too wet to plant I recommend potting them up into small pots in good potting mix ready for planting in the spring, this will give them a very good start.

Winter pruning continues this month but wait until a fine day (there is still plenty of time). Keeping on top of the weeds before the rapid spring growth is also a job for a sunny day. 

Spring bulbs will start to poke through the ground so take care when working in the borders so not to stand on them, or cut their tops off if using a hoe!

It's still a little too early to think about sowing seeds, even in the unheated green house, but a good time to order new seeds or plants for the spring.

Remember to ventilate green houses (even if just for a few hours), this will help prevent mould growing on plants. 

Lawns won't be growing so now is the time to get the lawn mower serviced ready for the spring growth. The temperatures are also too low for selective weed sprays to work, wait until the warmer spring weather arrives.

Tubers and corms of dahlias, begonias and gladiolas that have been lifted and stored for winter should be checked often to ensure they are sound and not being eaten by insects or mice.

Garden tools need to be cleaned and sharpen to work well. A good indoor winter job that can be done when it is wet and cold outside.

Good gardening, Michael Coulter

Remember: bring your questions to our monthly AAG meeting, post them on HortTalk or email Michael directly beforehand coultchrys@xtra.co.nz