The warmer weather is stimulating the activity of crops, insects and weeds. It’s important to water regularly and to continue to hoe and weed. These are the months of plenty!
It’s time to protect plants from the heat. Apply mulches around plants to reduce the amount of moisture escaping from the soil. Consider applying temporary screens where plants are exposed to directly sunlight for long periods of the day. If you are planting out new seedlings, these can get some protection from the sun if located where they benefit from shading from established nearby plants.
Onions will be ready from mid-July when they stop growing and the leaves turn yellow – if there are a few days forecast without rain, partially dig them up with a fork and allow to dry out for a few days in-situ before storing. There should be an abundance of crops so think about how to store any surplus: pickling, drying, freezing and preserving.
And there’s still time to fill any gaps on our plots with late season seeds. Salad crops – lettuce, endive, radish, mustard and cress - can be planted and harvested within a few short weeks but beware of ants, aphids and slugs/snails.
Beetroot, French beans and peas. Plant out cabbages, cauliflowers and other brassicas for harvesting during autumn/winter
Feed tomatoes and other fruiting vegetables.
Thin out hard fruit if there are exceptional numbers of budding fruits.
Regularly turn compost to accelerate its breakdown.
Chard, French beans, garlic and onions (if leaves are turning pale), early potatoes.
Salad crops develop quickly, and there are a wide variety – sorrel, lettuce, endive, kale, radicchio and mustard leaves - to suit various conditions.
They can be grown in seed drills, broadcast over an area of ground or grown in containers. Either way, they offer a fresh and tasty alternative to bags of supermarket salads.
As salad crops can outgrow weeds, watering and pests are the main concerns for salad growers. Watering every two days may be necessary during long dry spells if salad crops are grown in compost rich beds (daily watering may be necessary if they are grown in small pots).
Slugs are the main pest, and can be treated with pellets, nematodes, or regular picking off. Ants and aphids can also be a problem – ants can be kept in check if the surrounding soil is kept moist. Aphids can be squashed by hand if they are not tackled by ladybirds or beetles.
Regular collect leaves when they are ready to harvest. If leaves start to sag after harvesting they can be recovered by soaking in cold water.
Unlike most crops, which are pollinated by insects or birds, sweetcorn is pollinated by the wind. For this reason, sweetcorn should not be planted in lines, but in blocks so that there is a chance of pollination regardless of wind direction.
Pollen is produced by the male "tassels" at the top of each plant. Below these are the female "silks" which catch fallen / wind-blown pollen.
Sweetcorn can be sown indoors from April but should not be planted out until there is no risk of frost - usually around early June. They should be planted 45-60cm (12 - 18") apart. As they grow during the height of summer They require regular watering, especially when the cobs are fattening up.
They are ready to harvest when the tassels turn brown when, if you peel back the husk the kernels produce a milky juice when squeezed. They lose sweetness from the moment they are picked so try and cook them as quickly as possible after harvesting,