Consider this your wintery planting guide! Here’s what to harvest, plant and sow in the garden during the month of July
What to harvest in the garden in July
– Winter is citrus harvest time. Don’t leave mandarins and tangelos too long on the tree after they ripen as they can dry out.
– Limes can be harvested when green. However, if you wait until they turn yellow, they’ll be less acidic.
– Always cut the central head of broccoli at an angle so water doesn’t rot the stem. After cutting the centre, new shoots will form with smaller heads. Sprouting broccoli varieties such as ‘Early Purple’ can be picked continuously for many weeks.
– Keep picking rocket leaves (and flowers, which are edible and look great in salads). If you don’t pick the flowers, plants will put their energy into producing seed and not leaves.
– When picking cauliflower make sure heads are tight and firm – don’t let them get soft.
– Leeks can be left in the ground until needed, otherwise harvest when they are about 2.5cm thick or sooner if you like them thin. Slice leeks raw into salads and substitute for onion in some of your favourite dishes.
What to sow in the garden in July
– Super trendy, super nutritious and fast growing, what’s not to like about kale? Seed can be sown now for a spring harvest, either into the ground or into trays filled with seed-raising mix for planting out later. Protect seedlings from slugs and snails.
– When sowing broad beans choose a sunny position and ideally run rows north to south so each plant gets plenty of light and will produce more flowers lower down. On taller varieties pinch out tops when plants are covered in flowers.
– In most areas carrots can be sown direct into fine, well-drained, fertile soil. In very frosty areas wait until soil warms up to above 5°C. Make shallow furrows, sow seed as thinly as possible and keep soil moist until seedlings come through. Some gardeners mix seed with sand or a fast-growing crop like radishes to ensure they’re not sown too thickly. Seed tapes are another option.
– If your vege garden is only a pot or trough, try sowing a carrot variety called ‘Baby’, a sweet-tasting tiny carrot that only takes 10-12 weeks to mature.
– Sow beetroot now in warmer areas, but wait until September in colder places. Sow 20-30cm apart, 12mm deep, and keep soil or seed mix damp until seedlings pop up (roughly two weeks). Keep thinning to give roots space to fatten up.
– Keep sowing peas, cabbage, radish and winter salad greens. Prepare soil by digging in plenty of compost or organic matter a couple of weeks beforehand.
– To get nice, straight carrots, clear out clay clumps, stones and large roots in the soil before you sow seed. If your soil is heavy clay, use planters or pots to grow carrots. Regular thinning is essential if you want plump crops.
What to plant in the garden in July
– If you’re keen to plant early potatoes but live in a frosty region, try planting in deep pots or planters rather than into the cold ground. Make sure your seed potatoes are well sprouted first.
– Those in frost-free areas can plant out cauliflower seedlings now. Space them 50-70cm apart and plant in fertile soil that has been amended with plenty of compost well beforehand.
– Now is a good time to plant dormant (or semi-dormant) rhubarb varieties. Growing from crowns (divisions of established plants) is far quicker than from seed. Ask friends to donate pieces of their plants or buy from garden centres during winter. Ideally, plant in a separate bed, or in its own part of the garden away from other annual vegetables so roots are not damaged when you’re digging up crops. In cooler climates rhubarb needs a sunny position but in warmer areas plant in part or even full shade. It’s frost hardy and happy in most soils.
– Garlic can be planted in most places, but grow them in pots if you live in a frosty area for planting out in spring. Soil should be free-draining if planting into the garden. Buy seed garlic from the garden centre; don’t use supermarket cloves. Plant individual cloves, pointy end up, about 2cm deep and 15cm apart.
– Plant asparagus crowns in well-drained, fertile soil. Add plenty of compost, animal manure, seaweed and other organic matter plus a little lime if your soil is very acidic.
Words by: Carol Bucknell