"Feels Like Summer", The Dartmouth Gardener
Well here we are again, early July and wondering what the weather is going to do?
As I write, the long-range forecast seems to show that things are going to be changeable in July with high pressure in August, hopefully, bringing warm, drier weather. So, don’t put the wellies away just yet and keep the sun block handy.
Watering will probably be needed at some point but, as always, remember not to over-water. Onions are best not watered unless under drought conditions, because onions grown hard keep much better through the winter.
I have found the best way to have the weather work for you is to have plenty of organic matter in the ground or on it and practise the no dig method. This helps to retain moisture as roots head out towards this moisture retentive layer in search of nutrients. The consequent improved root system leads to healthier and better vegetables.
Of course, in wet spells watering by hand (always far better than using a sprinkler, which wastes more than it benefits) is avoided. But weeds also thrive, so during drier weather keep the hoe busy knocking back the worst.
I do bang on about the use of the hoe as it is one of my favoured tools. My current one resembles a flattened out 9 iron golf club, has sharp edges on three sides and is near perfect for the job of weed eradication. Hoeing in dry weather can save hours of hand weeding. It also keeps the top layer of soil friable cutting out capillary action. This acts as a mulch preventing the drying affect of the sun and wind.
And, of course there is so much truth in the adage -’if you hoe when you don’t have weeds, you wont get any’.The addition of an organic mulch of well-rotted compost at a depth of 2-3 inches also prevents moisture loss.
It used to be that July was thought too late to sow any more vegetables but see the list opposite for some last minute options.
I have seen rocket sown in spring and bolt by late June or early July and though the seed packet recommends an early sowing, the problem is that rocket flowers at this time of year. It would seem that a later sowing about now or even as late as August would provide better results. Wild rocket is a better option as it will survive a mild winter as a perennial especially if grown under cover.
To Do This Month
Sowing and planting
• Sow spring cabbage, turnips, oriental vegetables, chicory, fennel, and autumn/winter salads.
• Carrots can still be sown, but beware of carrot fly when thinning existing seedlings.
• Last chance to sow french beans and runner beans (south of England only).
• Plant out leeks and brassicas for a winter supply if not yet done.
• Ensure all vegetables get a regular, consistent supply of water. This will aid healthy development and help to avoid diseases, disorders and bolting.
• Continue to hoe off weeds in dry weather. Hoe in wet weather, and the weeds are liable to re-root.
• Climbing beans may also need stopping to maximise cropping on existing side shoots. Stop them when they reach the tops of their supports.
• Beans need sufficient watering to help the seedpods set.
• Check climbing vegetables are securely tied to supports.
First Published July 2013 By The Dart