Last month we saw a fair amount of rainfall hit the UK on account of low pressure from the Atlantic. Inconvenient for holidaying but a relief for allotment holders and keen gardeners.
Have we had the rainfall now we’ve been after since winter? Perhaps, but it takes a lot of water to get into the root zone of vegetables like carrots which is why we need to be mindful of irrigation needs despite the fleeting downpours.
On clear days enjoy the soft-fruit harvests of strawberries and summer-fruiting raspberries. Keep an eye out for pest and disease damage and address any damage with netting or fruit cages.
Jobs to do now...
Eliminate slugs from your kitchen garden
It only takes one downpour to cue slugs to come out and lay waste to your fruit and vegetable patch. Due to the sheer numbers that come out at once you need to act fast to stem the invasion. Nematodes are the answer in summer – naturally-occurring microscopic creatures in the soil which prey on slugs. Use Nemaslug nematode mix and water into the soil to protect your well-grown crops.
Protect your crops against caterpillars and birds
Create a barrier against opportunistic birds which will help themselves to strawberries and other low-growing fruit as they develop and ripen. Micromesh tunnels are perfect for this as well as providing a protective environment against the elements. Hailstorms are not unheard of in July and the tunnel prevent crops getting battered with hail. Easy to set up and give you peace of mind.
Plant autumn-cropping potatoes
Plant potato tubers now for harvests of home-grown potatoes full of flavour for the autumn. Varieties such as Gemson mature quickly over the summer as the soil is warm and good for the roots. If you’re looking for a full growing-solution for autumn-cropping potatoes see Marshalls Potato Gemson Growing Kits including Gro-Sacks, potato fertiliser and tubers for 15 plants.
Side-shoot cordon tomatoes
Cordon tomatoes such as tomato Sweet Million and Golden Cherry will be growing well now and producing flowering stems. Each morning or evening give tomatoes a generous water and feed with a high-potash formula.
Now is the time to pinch out side-shoots too. These are the secondary shoots that emerge at the point where the base of the leaves meet the main stem. Removing these side-shoots concentrates the plants’ energy on producing more and superior fruit.
Harvest this year's garlics and shallots and order autumn-planting for next year
Are your root crops of garlic and shallots ready to harvest and dry? If the leaves have yellowed and are wilting in earnest, lift a garlic to check the size and readiness for harvesting. If ready, handle carefully so they don’t bruise. Bruising can lead to rot in storage.
Dry outdoors for around a week if the weather is dry. In wet conditions bring indoors into a cool location. If storing in boxes cut leaves down to leave a 5cm (2in) stump on the garlic bulbs. If you are planning to suspend crops to dry, moisten the leaves and produce plaits.
Order autumn-planting onions, shallots and garlic now for next year’s harvest. It’s one job ticked off the long autumn to-do list.
Vitamin-packed and anti-aging superfoods need not come with a price-tag. You and your family can take advantage of all the health benefits of ‘super’ fruit and vegetables without breaking the bank. Here are our suggestions for good-quality and healthy crops worth growing yourself. Superfoods need not come from the supermarkets; they’re available closer to home when you grow them yourself.
Varieties to try...
Carrots - Super status- reduce the growth of cancer cells, full of fibre to buffer high blood sugar.
Rocket - Super-status – A very low calorie vegetable, just 25 per 100 grams and lowers blood pressure.
Blackcurrants - Super-status – packed with vitamin C for boosting your immune system.
Blackcurrant and Sloe Gin Sorbet
Have a refreshing and tasty treat for when it’s time for 'tools down' from spending time outside working on the vegetable plot or in the garden.
- 500g (around 1 1/2 punnets) blackcurrants
- 350ml water
- 150g caster sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 egg white
- 4 tablespoons of sloe gin
Put blackcurrants and 175ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, create a smooth puree with a blender then leave aside to cool.
Place the remaining water, caster sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved completely.
Bring to the boil then remove from the heat and place in another bowl, again to cool.
Bring together the cooled purée with the cooled sugar mixture and mix together. Place mixture in a freezer-proof container and freeze for 3-4 hours.
Whisk the egg white until air bubbles form. Soften the puree mixture by mixing in a food processor briefly. Fold in the whisked egg-white and return the whole mixture to the freezer for 4-6 hours.
Serve with up to 4 tablespoons of sloe gin to your taste.
Tomato blight is a fungal disease that quickly affects the leaves and fruit of tomatoes in damp conditions in the summer, causing plants to topple over and rot.
Outdoor tomatoes are mostly affected as opposed to indoor cordon tomatoes. You’ll know that blight has struck when your tomato plants develop brown lesions on the unripe green fruit.
To prevent blight bring containerised outdoor tomatoes indoors if it’s a particularly wet July. It’s wet, warm weather that exasperates the problem and in the case of blight prevention is better than cure.
Pre-order overwintering onions now
Order your favourite varieties of great-value onions, shallots and garlic now and cross that task off your autumn-gardening list. You’ll receive sets in autumn to plant out and grow underground over the winter for earlier harvests next year.
RHS Flower Shows Hampton Court, 4-9 July and Tatton Park, 19-23 July
The North and South of England play host to two fantastic flower shows highlighting mid to late summer stats of the garden and allotment. Be sure to visit the kitchen garden of the Blind Veteran UK Garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and the Vineyard exhibit at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park for the perfect growing (and tasting) experience.