From harvesting citrus and tamarillo to sowing beans and planting onion seedlings, there’s lots to keep you busy in the garden this July. Here’s your gardening guide
What to harvest in the garden in July
+ Citrus trees are abundant with ripening fruit at this time of year. Fruit is ready to pick if it’s a good colour and slightly soft. Don’t leave citrus on the tree any longer than required as it won’t ripen any further and the birds might beat you to the harvest.
+ Golden orange persimmons can also be harvested at this time of year. Full of vitamins and gorgeous to look at, persimmons need long summers to produce a good crop. Older trees produce more astringent fruit but the birds like them so they’re still worth having. Modern varieties are less astringent and more crunchy.
+ Get out the chutney and sorbet recipes if you’re lucky enough to have a good tamarillo harvest this year. These subtropical fruit hate the cold and wind so use shade or frost cloth for protection if your garden is exposed to either. They also need good drainage to produce a decent crop.
+ After harvesting peas, cut them off at ground level and leave the roots in the ground to rot down, allowing their nitrogen-fixing bacteria to be absorbed into the soil.
+ Keep picking rocket and other winter salad greens to encourage more leaf production.
+ Broccoli is best picked when heads are young and tender, with no yellow flowers. Make the cuts slanted so moisture doesn’t collect on stems and cause rot. Pull out plants of heading broccoli once you’ve harvested them, but leave the sprouting varieties in the garden as they’ll continue to produce small, tasty heads.
+ Carrots take 3-4 months to grow but nothing beats their taste straight out of the ground. Start harvesting them early to thin out rows and allow remaining carrots to get to a good size. Use thinnings as snacks for the kids and in salads and stir-fries.
What to sow in the garden in July
+ Beetroot, broad beans, carrot and lettuce can be sown straight into the garden in warmer areas; in punnets inside or in the greenhouse for planting out during spring in colder places.
+ Brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage can be sown in trays or punnets for planting out when plants are a good size (usually after 4-6 weeks).
+ If sowing peas choose early varieties for best cropping. Sow seed in trenches 5cm apart and around 2-3cm deep. You’ll need trellis or some kind of support even for the smaller varieties.
+ Super nutritious, fast-growing kale can be sown now for a spring harvest. Seed can be sown directly into the ground or into trays filled with seed-raising mix for planting out later.
+ Sow carrots directly into fine, well-drained, fertile soil. If adding compost or manure, this needs to be done well before sowing. In very frosty areas, wait until soil warms up to above 5°C.
What to plant in the garden in July
+ Plant rhubarb crowns away from annual veges, if possible, as they need a lot of space and you don’t want to damage their roots when digging around them. A sunny position is best in cooler areas but they’ll need a little shade in hotter gardens. Plant crowns 75-90cm apart, about 5cm below the surface, mounding soil up a little first to reduce chance of rotting.
+ Asparagus crowns can still be planted now in warmer areas but wait until October if you live in a cooler region. Frost-tolerant asparagus prefers a sunny spot and free-draining, sandy soil. Plant in raised beds or add coarse sand if your soil has more clay. Beds need to be enriched with well-rotted organic matter such as compost, seaweed or sheep pellets.
+ Plant coriander in a nice, sheltered spot with well-drained soil.
+ Winter is a good time to plant fruit trees – apple, apricot, citrus, blueberry, nectarine, plum and peaches. Stake them for the first season, particularly if exposed to strong wind.
+ Plant lemons in a sunny position sheltered from frosts or grow cold-tolerant varieties such as ‘Meyer’. Young trees will need protection from frosts until they establish. Lemons fruit for long periods so need lots of feeding with a citrus or all-purpose fertiliser in early spring and summer. Once a month, sprinkle blood and bone or a liquid fertiliser around the drip line.
+ Get spinach and silverbeet plants in the ground now to keep your iron levels up during the colder months. Keep soil moist but not waterlogged and add plenty of organic matter (compost, poultry or sheep manure) before planting. Space plants at 30cm.
+ Plant onion seedlings now so bulbs will be forming as the weather warms. Well-drained soil and plenty of organic matter are a must.
Words by: Carol Bucknell.