July is the time to get planting for your summer bounty! Head to the garden and use this checklist to guide you on what to plant, harvest and sow this month
These are the best fruits and vegetables to plant in your garden this July
+ A hot bed (a covered timber box filled with compost) is a great way to grow early potatoes and other crops if you live in a cold area. Look online for easy DIY instructions.
+ If the soil in your garden doesn’t get too cold during winter it’s safe to plant feijoa trees, which are actually tolerant of frost (down to about -10°C). To prolong the fruiting season, plant 2 or 3 trees.
+ Plant strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and other soft fruit now so you’ll have plenty of delicious berries for your Christmas table.
+ If you do nothing else in the garden this winter, plant seedlings of leafy greens such as spinach, bok choy, silverbeet and kale. They’re easy-care, nutritious and versatile. Also plant 6-week-old cauliflower seedlings 50-70cm apart in fertile soil with plenty of compost in all but very frosty areas. Keep feeding with a balanced fertiliser every 3-4 weeks and keep soil moist for large, firm heads. Choose a self-blanching green or purple variety to avoid the hassle of tying leaves over heads to keep them white.
These are the fruits and vegetables you should harvest
+ Feijoas are abundant in many gardens so gather as many as you can for eating with a spoon or peeled, sliced and marinated with a little sugar. Feijoa chutney is also big in our household. Watch out for guava moth, the scourge not just of guava and feijoa trees but also citrus and many other fruit crops. To stop the infestation spreading, pick up fallen fruit but don’t compost it. Place it in a bucket with a lid and cover with lime or gypsum to kill larvae first.
+ Who doesn’t love macadamias? Considered by some to be the queen of nuts, many macadamia varieties (eg ‘Beaumont’, ‘Maroochy’, ‘GT 205’) are harvested at this time of year. For some varieties like ‘Beaumont’ that don’t drop their fruit naturally, you’ll need to cut the nut clusters off the tree. For those that do fall to the ground, placing a net under the tree helps make harvesting easier. Try to pick up your macadamias every second day so they don’t become diseased or attract the local rats.
+ Mandarins, lemon and other citrus fruit ripen all through winter. With most citrus it’s best to leave the fruit on the tree until you need it but don’t leave it too long as the birds might start to peck at the skins. Mandarins can also dry out if left on the tree for long periods after ripening.
+ When harvesting Brussels sprouts, remove the lower leaves first to make it easier to pick them and to allow the plant to direct energy into cropping. When the sprouts are firm and about 3-5cm in diameter, twist them until they break off at the stem, picking from the base upwards.
Here are the herbs and vegetables you should sow in July
+ Grabbing a sprig of fresh parsley or coriander will improve the taste and nutrition of any meal. Sow seed in containers at a depth of 20-60cm. Try shallow-rooted veges such as radishes, salad greens, Asian vegetables and spinach in containers at this time of year. Wait until spring for annual herbs such as basil and parsley unless you have a warm, sheltered spot.
+ Fast-growing and highly nutritious, kale seed can be sown now for a spring harvest, either directly into the ground or into trays filled with seed-raising mix for planting out later. For a treat try ‘Pink Stem’ or sow a mesclun-kale blend and eat fresh or steamed. Protect seedlings from snails.
+ A sunny position is best for broad beans. For maximum light and more flowers lower down the stems, plant rows north to south, if possible. Stake well and, on taller varieties, pinch out tops when plants are covered in flowers.
+ Keep sowing peas for continual harvests if you have plenty of space. Peas do well in good-sized containers if you don’t allow soil to become too dry. Try snow, sugar snap and other pea varieties to use in salads and stir-fries.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Westend61/Getty Images.