|July to do list |
1. Regular deadheading bedding and perennial plants directs
energy into stronger growth and more flowers. Once the flowers are
pollinated; seed heads, pods or capsules form at the expense of further
growth and flower development. However do not remove the faded
flowers on plants that produce seed loved by birds, including
Rudbeckia, cornflower and sunflower, or plants that have ornamental
seeds or fruits; examples include alliums; love-in-a-mist (Nigella),
stinking iris (Iris foetidissima) and bladder cherry (Physalis
alkekengi). There is also no need to deadhead rose cultivars that
bear hips or other plants that bear berries in the autumn.
2. Keep up with the harvesting of all crops. Lift early potatoes and carry on earthing up the rows.
When the potatoes are 10cm tall, the leafy shoots can be mounded around
with soil to their full height, this process is known as ‘earthing up’.
Earthing up potatoes will increase the length of underground stems that
will bear potatoes. This mounding can be repeated once or twice more at
2 – 3 week intervals to ensure the best crop, with the added benefit of
smothering any competing weeds.
Loosen soil between the rows using a garden fork. Use a rake or spade
to draw the soil into a ridge along the length of the row around the
emerging stems of the potatoes. Leave a shallow trough along the row at
the top of the ridge to channel any water down to the developing tubers.
When growing potatoes in large pots or sacks, the tubers will have been
planted into 10cm of compost at the base of the container. As the
shoots emerge, add more compost at regular intervals, 5cm at a time,
until the container is almost full.
On light soil, mix in well-rotted garden or bagged compost to earth up
the potato plants. This helps conserve moisture which swells the tubers.
3. Harvest garlic and shallots as the foliage begins to become yellow and straw.
4. July is the start of globe artichoke season. If your plant is into
its second year then cut off the top bulb once big and swollen with a
couple of inches of stem attached.
5. Lift autumn planted onions for immediate use. Continue to pick
rhubarb until the end of the month and begin to harvest the main crop
of your strawberries. Start to pick plums, early pears and apples.
6. Start sowing the seeds of the overwintering crops of kales, spring
cabbage, radicchio, chicory, spinach beet and a hardy type of onion to
mature in the early summer of next year.
7. Now is the best time to sow the main crop of carrots to avoid attack from root fly.
8. Continue with successional sowings of beetroot and lettuce. Follow
the instructions on the back of the seed packet, and sow every 2 - 4
weeks for a continuous supply of crops.
9. Aim to keep the hoe moving at every opportunity. Water all crops at
least once a week. Start to draw the soil up around the base of
Brussels sprouts and sweet corn plants to encourage extra roots.
10. This is the start of potato blight season, and if the weather
is wet and humid in July then your crop is likely to be at risk. You
can use fungicides containing copper to help protect your crop from the
blight; these should be sprayed from June onwards if a wet July is
predicted. (Crop rotation the following year is advisable). An infected
plant will have a watery rot on its leaves, causing them to collapse –
the infected matter should be binned or burned and not placed into your
compost, as this will not kill the disease and it will reoccur the
Recipe of the Month Easy Spinach Soup (serves 4)
2 medium onions, sliced
1 clove of garlic, sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
1.25 litres chicken stock
300g baby spinach
The juice of ½ a lemon
4 tbsp single cream
Heat the butter in a large sauce pan over a medium-low heat and add the
onions. Cook gently for 7-8 minutes or until soft (but not brown). Add
the garlic and potato cubes and cook, stirring, for an extra 2 minutes.
Add the stock, increase the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat
and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Add the spinach leaves,
increase the heat again and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Purée the soup in
batches in a blender or with a hand-held blender until smooth. Season
with some freshly grated nutmeg.
Add lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black
pepper. Bring the soup back to the simmer and then stir in the cream.
Tip - This can be made 48 hours ahead of time. Don't add the lemon juice or cream until reheating the soup.
Dates for your Diary
RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show July 3-8
The largest flower show in the world returns bringing all the regular attractions to the Tudor palace.
The show gardens, Rose Marquee and plant pavilions are ripe for exploration alongside
a variety of talks, demonstrations and exhibits. Visit the Festival of
Roses to spot the 2018 Rose of the Year, Lovestruck ('Dicommatac').
July 7-8 - The Garden Museum's Annual Literary Festival
This year the world's only literary festival dedicated to gardening
will be taking place in the Museum's London home. With 'urban greenery'
as its theme, festival goers can expect a wide range of talks including
Allan Jenkins on early morning gardening,
Bee Wilson on 'supertasters', George Plumptre on London's secret
gardens and many more over the two days. There will also be talks on
foraging and healing plants, cookery demonstrations, beekeeping
workshops, botanical drawing and original poetry by Jackie Wills.
Tickets are on sale now.
Call it cheating, but applying used coffee grounds, eggshells,
chopped-up banana peels, and other organic matter directly to your soil
(no composting required) can offer plants nutrients as they decompose.
For already-growing beds, scatter and bury the items within the first few inches of soil.
Happy Gardening Nicole