Gardening in July

Summer is most definitely here! Days are long, temperatures are high and hopefully you have something to harvest almost every day. July is often a dry month and watering is crucial. Most plants need a steady, unbroken supply of water. If you have got one of our automatic watering systems or Sprout mini greenhouses they will of course do this for you. If not, make sure you keep on top of watering!

If you haven’t already….

  • It is your last chance to sow french beans 
  • Chop back herbs such as chives, mint, sage, lovage and thyme if they are looking tall and tired. This will stimulate the growth of fresh new leaves

What to do now…

  • Keep on top of watering and adjust your watering schedule according to the weather. Little seedlings and newly planted veg are very vulnerable and need more water on sunny days. However, do not forget your larger, more established plants! A stressed plant will attract pests, such as aphids, and regular watering is the key to keeping them away. 
  • Feed spring planted onions with a fertiliser rich in nitrogen to keep them growing through July. Also, remember to water them well in dry spells to avoid bolting.  
  • Check your courgette plants often and pick the fruit when young. This will ensure that they keep on producing lots of courgettes!
  • Water your carrots in dry spells to keep the soil around the roots constantly moist. If the soil dries out, followed by rain, it can cause the roots to split. 
  • Regularly water your leeks to help them establish well. 
  • Feed your blueberries with a high potash fertiliser every 2 weeks to help fruit ripen and make sure to keep them well watered at all times. Blueberries come from areas with high rainfall and need lots of water to produce plump and juicy fruit. 
  • Apple trees will often produce more fruit than they can grow to maturity. Remove the excess and leave only one or two per cluster. 
  • Pot up strawberry runners when the plants have finished producing fruit. Use the runners to make new plants.  
  • Lift and divide old rhubarb plants. Remove the centre and divide outer growth, Replant with lots of organic matter. 
  • Take cuttings from tender perennials such as salvias, lavender, pelargoniums and penstemons. Insert the cuttings along the edge of a plastic pot with good draining compost. 
  • Tie in blackberry and other hybrid berry canes. The new canes will bear fruit next year and should be securely tied in throughout the summer. 
  • Thin out crowded plants such as carrots, parsnips and spring onions. 
  • Remember to check all your plants growing under cover and make sure to open any greenhouses and cold frames as it can get very hot. Your Harvst Sprout will of course do this for you automatically! 
  • Keep on working on reducing slug habitats in your garden, especially close to new sowings and seedlings. Tidy up, lift up stones, pieces of wood and keep grass short.
  • Continue to sow salad leaves and lettuces for a continuous supply throughout the summer. As the days get longer and hotter, lettuces prefer to grow in partial shade. 
  • Make sure to keep everything growing in pots well watered and fed. 
  • Feed tomatoes with a high potash feed to help fruit forming. 

Quick jobs

Sometimes we only have five or ten minutes to spare but it is remarkable how much you can get done in those minutes! Imagine you did one of these jobs every day of the year. 365 small jobs creates miracles! 

  • Earth up your potatoes to encourage side shoots and more tubers. Pull up soil around the plants to form ridges and ideally do this little and often. This also stops the potatoes going green. 
  • Check your potato and tomato plants for blight as often as you can. It starts with watery rots on the leaves that soon turn brown and spread over the foliage and stems. Remove any affected plants as soon as possible and discard the material.
  • As Cordon/Indeterminate tomato plants grow, tie the main stem at regular intervals to a cane for support and pinch out suckers/side shoots. Do this often as it very quickly turns into a big mess otherwise! 
  • Watch out for pests. If spotted early it can prevent an out of control invasion. 
  • Check on your sowings and seedlings and do not let them dry out. 
  • Weeds will grow fast now. Spend 10min whenever you can to hand weed or hoe them off to stop them taking over. 
  • Go on a slug hunt! Look under things like pots, pieces of wood, clumps of soil and stones. Dispose of them and any eggs you find. One slug can lay 400 eggs so stop the exponential growth early! 
  • Move around your scarecrows so that birds don’t get used to them. 
  • Move your pots into the shade on very hot days. 

What should I sow this month?

This month we can sow dwarf beans, peas (early varieties), mange tout, lettuce, beetroot, land cress, coriander, carrots (summer varieties), Spring onions, turnips, chard, Florence fennel, chicory, Chinese cabbage and kohlrabi. 

What should I plant this month?

July is the month to plant out Brussels sprouts, kale, sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage, calabrese and leeks. Also plant  runner beans, lettuce, dwarf beans, courgettes, marrow, squashes and tomatoes if you haven’t already. 

Time planting out with forecasted rain to save on water and help the plants establish. This is of course not always possible but avoid really hot or windy days.

What should I harvest this month?

July is a generous harvesting month when we can harvest broad beans, dwarf beans, summer cabbage, potatoes, garlic, lettuce, radish, spring onions, chard, carrots, beetroot, courgette, turnips, all sorts of herbs, globe artichokes, gooseberries, black and red currants, cherries, raspberries and late strawberries. If you’re lucky you may also have some tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and cape gooseberries ready! 

Gardening with children

Gardening with children is wonderful and chaotic! It is the very best place for them to learn about and connect with nature, wildlife, biodiversity, sustainability and growing food. It is important to let them have a go and fail but it is also important to give them an opportunity to succeed! Here are some ideas that you can do with your children this month! 

  • Go for a bug hunt and learn about the little creatures you find. Photograph and identify them and speak about their role in your garden. 
  • Create a water source for the insects in your garden. Fill a tray with water and add stones, sticks and shells so that the insects can have a drink without drowning.