July at Plot 4

June has been a really warm month down here on the south coast. We’ve had slightly above temperatures, with occasional heavy downpours. All in all, perfect growing weather. As a result the allotment has flourished, with the crops just about outgrowing the weeds.

The good weather has meant there has been much to harvest. The broad beans have been a roaring success, with literally bagfulsĀ being picked and eaten over the last few weeks. Whilst the original overwintered crop has just finished, the spring sown bean are about to be ready to pick; so we’ll be enjoying these sweet and tasty beans well into July. The strawberries have also been excellent, with a really good harvest of big berries. They too have begun to reach the end, but as they finished the summer raspberries have ripened and are providing us with a great crop. Salads are hard to get germinating when its so hot, but those which had grown have been giving us a constant alternative to the hermetically sealed bags of overpriced salad in the supermarkets.

Over the last few weeks I have been sowing more Swiss chard, as well as some Florence fennel. Hopefully they can get going and provide us with a good crop into the autumn. There’s still time to sow more peas and dwarf beans, so once the potatoes are dug, I’ll put a row or two of each for a late summer crop of fresh peas and beans. This is the month I start to think about the winter, so I’ll be rifling through the seed box and working out which of the brassicas I can sown now to give me a crop when the days are colder and shorter. For a quick fix, I’ll also be sowing some more radishes. They’re so quick to germinate and swell, and they add an amazing heat and crunch to any salad.

The ongoing jobs of watering and weeding will continue this month. I’m trying to be smart with the watering; only watering those plants that really need it, and making sure that they don’t go from drought to flood too much. In terms of the tomatoes, this consistency is crucial to ensure that the fruits don’t split or become diseased. The pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers, beans and indeed tomatoes, all need tying in to their supports as their tendrils and shoots grow in the summer’s heat. This year I’m trying to control the pumpkin and squash growth by training them up a step ladder and around an old parasol frame. The plan is to tie them in every so often, so I can let the plants become big without them taking over the whole allotment!

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This post is contributing to The Garden Share Collective; an internationalĀ group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills.