July allotment garden

Last revised: 27 February 2018

Seasonal reminders, hints and tips.

Show time

Jubilee Road Late Summer Show is set for mid-September, make sure your preparations are well in hand having identified the crops and plants most likely to be ready for show. Read more about our show, and hints for entering

For example, look for suitable onions that are likely to meet minimum weight for the show competition (one bulb of minimum 250gms). Similarly, identify 4 or 5 onions or beetroot in good condition which look about same size and shape to present as a ‘plate’ of 3. Mark these vegetables to avoid accidently digging them out until you are ready, and in the give them special attention in the mean time.

Prepare your entries and entry form now (PDF for printing).

Potato and Tomato Blight

Please read this article about Potato and Tomato Blight which is likely prevalent now on your crops or those nearby during July and August.

Remove infected leaves and stalks, and dispose at Council green recycling centre.

Watering plants

Direct water to the roots of plants. Wet leaves increase humidity which encourages funguses, like blight, and will burn the leaves by evaporation in hot weather.

Harvesting

Water carrots before thinning out to loosen the soil and avoid breaking the roots.

Pumpkin

Probably the last time to plant out pumpkin or squash is end of July, otherwise there is not enough heat in the sun to promote and maintain growth.

When planting give them plenty of well rotted manure, try planting on or close to a compost heap to provide heat and ready supply of nutrients. Of course watering weekly is important, as is a fortnightly general feed like given to tomatoes.

Broad Beans

When picking of broad beans from a main stalk has finished, cut the stalk just above ground level, leaving the root to rot in the ground. The roots are covered in nitrogen nodules which need time to dissipate into the surrounding soil. This makes the ground very welcome to the next crop, like spring cabbage.

Brassica

Spring Cabbage can be sown now for a crop next spring. This keeps the ground in good use through winter and provides an early crop. The new plants should be ready for planting out in 3 to 4 weeks. They could be planted out where broad beans have finished to gain from the residual nitrogen of the bean roots that remain in the ground.

Broccoli plantlets should be ready for planting out when about 10cm high. Protect the young plants from birds, slugs and snails. Keep regularly watered with fortnightly feed until the first harvest in about 12 weeks. Most varieties can remain in the ground through autumn and continue to be harvested.

Celery

If you want blanched celery, wait until the plants are about 30cm tall and tie straw or raffia firmly around the stalks. An alternative approach is to wrap the stalks in several layers of paper or cardboard and tie with string. In both cases water only at the roots to avoid the stalks rotting inside the bunch. It will be at least a month before a reasonable blanching is achieved, leave for longer if you can resist.

Tomatoes

Less is more. Reduce trusses to 4, 5 or 6 per plant and pinch out any flowers. This concentrates growth into a crop the plant can ably cope with. You will need to stake the plants and tie the main stem loosely to allow some movement, but still keep trusses off the soil. Be selective about how many tomatoes are allowed on each truss. Again, up to 6 golf ball sized fruit, and fewer for larger fruit.

Companion planting

Carrots and onions are good companions. Firstly the smell of each plant discourages pests that attack the other. Secondly onions grow in the surface and carrots below. By selecting quick growing varieties you could be harvesting in about 12 weeks, and still have some left over into autumn. So onions first followed by carrots two weeks later.

Leeks

When leek plants are nearly 30cm above ground they can be collard to promote blanching the stems.

A tube about 50mm diameter and 20 to 25cm long is placed over the leaves and pushed 5cm into the ground. Ensure some leaf is exposed to sunlight at top of the tube. You could try toilet roll tubes cut length ways or cardboard tied loosely around with string.

The plant growth inside the tube is not exposed to sunlight and will blanch. Take care to water the plants at base, not down the tube.

Leek and Onion problems

Leeks are prone to Allium Leaf Minor which is common problem to all onion family. There are two generations which attack plants during March to April and again October to November when the adult fly lays eggs.

Similar damage and life cycle is Leek Moth. The grubs will appear during two phases, May to June and August to October as the adult fly lays eggs.

The larvae maggots bore into the stems and bulbs of leeks, onions, chives and garlic with devastating consequences. Affected plants often develop secondary infections and rot.

Essentially there is no defence to either, except covering with fine horticultural fleece and ensuring you plant in a different place each year as the grubs will hibernate near where they grew up.