Seems like summer has barely started and we’re already looking ahead to July — the height of summer. Days are long, temperatures are most likely at their highest and may even exceed 100ºF for days at a time in the South, Southwest, and Midwest. If all goes well, you’re harvesting something delicious from your garden almost every day, and this is also the peak time for picking herbs. But, like June, July is often a dry month, too. Watering is crucial. Most crops need a steady, unbroken supply of water. Interruptions cause problems such as flowers falling, fruits failing to form, skins splitting, premature bolting, and diseases such as tomato blossom end rot. Spreading mulches helps conserve moisture from any rain you do get — and will also control weeds.
Top tasks for July
- Harvest French and runner beans, zucchinis, carrots, beets, onions, shallots, new potatoes, and summer salads.
- Pick cherries, strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, and blueberries.
- Sow salad crops and the last of your beets, Florence fennel, French beans, and peas for this year.
- Climbing beans don’t really know when to stop. Pinch out the growing tips when they reach the top of your canes or they will quickly become tangled and top-heavy.
- Plant out cabbages, cauliflowers, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale for the autumn and winter.
- Continue to ensure that peas, brassicas, and soft fruit are all securely netted to keep off scavenging birds.
- Pull earth up around the stalks of brussels sprouts and other brassicas if they seem unsteady, and give them a top-dressing of nitrogenous fertilizer or an organic liquid feed. Keep an eye on potatoes and if necessary continue to earth them up.
- Start regularly watering tomatoes and peppers with a liquid feeding as soon as you see that the first fruits have formed. Feeding encourages both flowers and fruits.
- Water as often as you can to keep crops growing healthily and to prevent them from bolting.
- Feed tomatoes regularly and pinch out side shoots.
- Thin out apples and pears if it looks like you’re going to have a bumper crop.
“Weed, water, mulch” should remain as much of a mantra as it was in June. All three are still high on the list of the most important tasks of the month. Regular watering, in particular, is vital for the successful growth of crops. July is the month for summer-pruning certain fruit trees and bushes as or just after they finish cropping — cherries, currants, gooseberries, and summer-fruiting raspberries.