Vege gardening diary: July
What to plant this month
This is a difficult time of year with cold and wet soils plus continued frosts in the south. If your situation matches this description, concentrate on maintaining rather than planting out your garden.
If you live in a more benign weather zone, however, plant out the following seeds directly into the soil:
- rhubarb crowns
- broad beans
- hardy varieties of potato such as Ilam Hardy and Red King
Seeds that can be germinated in pots now, in a warm and sheltered place for planting out in the garden in a couple of months, include:
- hardy varieties of lettuce
- potatoes such as Ilam Hardy and Red King
- silver beet
- spring cabbage eg. savoy
Always read the instructions on seed packets to determine when your chosen variety can be sown.
This is the time of preparation for the big spring plantings.
- Build up your compost heap with kitchen scraps, raked-up leaves, newspaper, horse, sheep and chicken manure, wood ash and grass clippings. Sprinkle a fine layer of lime over each time you add another layer to the compost to help decomposition.
- Avoid walking on the soil or digging over when it is wet as this causes compaction and clumping and leads to a poor soil structure.
- If you have grown capsicums and live in a frost-free area, the plants can be left to grow on and fruit for a second year.
- Now is the time to add well-rotted compost (and a little lime if the soil is clay-based) and then mulch to suppress weeds.
- Your vegetable seedlings can be given a weak foliar (leafy) feed of soluble general fertiliser, or even better, a tea made from sheep pellets or seaweed.
- Slugs and snails are still rife so it is best to pick these off by hand at night. Slug pellets will become wet and hence ineffective and they are not good for your worm population either.
Picking your own produce is the essence of seasonal eating. July is the time for:
- Brussels sprouts
- spring-sown cauliflower
- winter radish
- Save your toilet roll tubes. These are great for filling with seed-raising mix and raising seedlings, particularly for ones that don’t normally like being transplanted such as carrots
- and peas.
- Empty the contents of your vacuum cleaner bag into the compost – it contains plenty of compostable proteins and carbon.