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Gardening with Mick - July

July is a month when we should really enjoy our gardening, usually with a glass of St. Emilion Grand Cru or whatever is your choice of white.

This is a month to relish the scents and aromas of honeysuckle, lavender, sweet peas, roses and many more heavily perfumed varieties that invade the evening air. As Dionysus tries to persuade you to have a third glass you should really be dead heading, weeding and watering.

All very essential items in July. I have had a wonderful show of Iris Germanica this year and hope to be able to divide some of the plants as they have become very large. To achieve this you lift the whole clump of rhizomes, separate some small young pieces that have leaves attached. Cut the leaves back to 3” to 4” and replant just below the soil level.

As always, water well. Your outdoor tomatoes should be ready for side shoot removal by now and, because they are outdoor stop them at the fourth truss.

Early potatoes are also ready and what better with a salad than a few ‘earlies’ drenched in butter. If the spuds are small when you harvest them leave them a couple of weeks and give them a good watering twice a week. Do not feed them for at least a fortnight before you harvest them.

July is really the beginning of the harvesting season. We may already have picked several members of the berry family and early sewn salad crops but now commences the harvest in earnest. If you are having trouble getting any crop to fruit, inside or outside use a high potash liquid fertiliser. Your shallots, onions and garlic should be ready to lift now, if it is warm and dry I leave mine outside to dry out in order to avoid short shelf life. If it is damp and rainy I make them up in to small bundles and tie them to the rafters of the shed. It is an ideal time to sow winter salads and plant out the brassicas that you sowed earlier in the year.

Protect your brassicas from butterflies and pigeons with netting and put collars at the base of the stem to prevent cabbage root fly. If you are really posh you will have grown globe artichokes. Now is the time to harvest them before the scales open. If the month is really dry, and it is supposed to be, make sure you water everything regularly, vegetables left to dry out bolt (form seed heads) and are not nice to eat. Sow your spring cabbage now, I used to sew mine at two week intervals for successional cropping.

My favourites are Greyhound and Hispi they have great flavour and despite being called a spring cabbage they crop from late summer to early winter. If you are growing tomatoes in the greenhouse you should be picking fruit this month, continue to pinch out side shoots and stop the plant at 5 trusses and whilst doing so check for pests and diseases.

Make sure they have plenty of ventilation, water and food. Make sure they are well supported as they will now start to become heavy with fruit. Your peppers, cucumbers, aubergine and melons should all be well advanced by now and showing small fruit.

If you have to use a pesticide spray use it in the evening when there are fewer beneficial insects about. House plants should be outside now but those that are too cumbersome or delicate to move should be well ventilated and kept out of direct sunlight.

Do not overwater, more house plants are destroyed by overwatering than any other reason. If you are going to Wimbledon for a fortnight don’t forget to get someone to water the plants.

You have now earned your third glass of vino Calapso. So, happy gardening, see you next month.



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