JULY VEGETABLE GARDEN
Apart from the last few days, June continued our run of great gardening weather with relatively warm temperatures and some good soaking rain. No doubt we will have plenty of cold, wet conditions ahead so July is a good time to clean up old crops, check out the seed catalogues and get ready for Spring. There are, however still plenty of vegetables that can be grown right now.
SEEDS TO SOW
Seeds sown directly into garden beds will be very slow to germinate this month but cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, silver beet, beetroot, perpetual spinach and spring onion can all be sown under cover in containers. A sunny windowsill can be used to germinate seeds but the seedlings can quickly become spindly and weak if left indoors for too long. Move them to a sheltered spot outside a couple of days after germination to ensure hardy, sturdy seedlings.
Peas, broad beans and snow peas can be sown in pots or straight into the garden but again they will do much better in containers filled with seed-raising potting mix. Florence, or Globe, fennel prefers cooler temperatures so now is a good time to raise some seedlings to plant out next month. Carrots are best sown direct into the garden in late August or early September when soil temperatures start to increase .
First early potatoes can be planted in a warm, sheltered spot from mid July onwards so , if you haven’t already done so, purchase and prepare seed potatoes by chitting. Chitting involves pre-sprouting the tubers by putting them in trays (I use egg cartons) and placing them in a warm, light, dry spot to allow the young shoots to develop. Good early varieties include Cliffs Kidney, Jersey Bennes, Illam Hardy and Arran Banner.
VEGETABLES TO PLANT
Garlic and shallots can still be planted this month along with our winter standbys cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, perpetual spinach, lettuce, spring onions and silver beet. Asparagus ‘crowns’ are usually available from garden shops for planting in July/August. Planting an asparagus bed is a long term project as it takes several years to produce significant crops but it can then go on cropping for twenty years or more.
Planting now allows the maximum time to produce a strong plant with a well developed root system that will support a large crop of succulent fruit. It also encourages early and prolonged cropping. If using bare-rooted strawberry plants that are dug straight out of the ground just be careful that the roots are never allowed to become dry before planting.
By Chris Green, Project Generate Volunteer