‘July can be your busiest month. In theory, July should be the hottest and driest month of the year, but it seldom is. You should be ready to deal with the effects of drought and very hot weather: not only extra watering and hoeing, but also fast-growing crops and regular pickings to keep pace with the plants.‘ (David Mabey)
‘Occasional rain or showers are more welcome in the garden than prolonged dry spells, but warm moist conditions can be favourable for the spread of many fungus diseases; in drier weather, pests are the greater problem.‘ (Frances Perry)
This month can be one of the most rewarding of the year, as crops such as broad beans, French beans, potatoes and salad crops all become ready for harvesting. Mediterranean herbs such as lavender, rosemary and thyme are at their best, whilst freshly-gathered marjoram, mint and chive leaves added to green leaves make for a most delicious mix of flavours in a salad.
Watering of growing vegetable crops should be done systematically, thoroughly, and regularly, either in the morning or in the evening, and gives an opportunity to watch the plants and look for early signs of pests and diseases and to take preventive action. Always avoid watering in the middle of the day, and always take care to water the roots of the plants, so as to conserve water and avoid rapid evaporation.
Roots and tubers
Early potatoes should be ready for lifting. Keep the second earlies and the main crop potatoes, whether in raised beds or potato sacks, well watered but be careful not to wet the leaves, as this could lead to scorching, and might encourage the spread of potential fungal diseases, the most important of which is potato blight. Young carrots, turnips, and beetroot should be growing well and be ready for harvesting in succession during the month.
Encourage the swelling and health of broad beans by regular watering, and daily inspection and washing off of blackfly. French beans and peas should be at their best, and should be picked before they get too large, with no sign of seeds bulging out of the pods. Meanwhile,as soon as the runner bean plants reach the top of the poles, the growing points should be pinched off to encourage the plant into diverting its energy into the production of flowers and pods. Protect the flowers from sparrows and other birds, by hanging flashing CDs from the poles to scare them off.
Cabbages, sprouting broccoli, and Brussels sprout plants can be planted out in beds this month. Prevent cabbage butterflies from laying their eggs on plants by using fleece, or fine mesh or cloches to protect the plants.
Salads and curcubits
Lettuces should be harvested before they show signs of bolting, and fresh sowings can be made. Marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and outdoor cucumber and tomato plants should all have been pollinated by now, and fruit set behind the flowers. Keep these plants well and evenly watered, and well-fed with seaweed extract, which will help to prevent the spread of mildew, and harvest the young courgettes as they appear, to keep the plants producing fruit. ——————————————————————————————————————-
Copyright (c) 2013 Torbay Organic Gardening Society, 25 Church Road, St Marychurch, Torquay TQ1 4QY
Tel 01803 328055 Leaflet No: CAL7