Gardening Tip – For the week 4th July – 10th July
Which seeds are still worth planting?
It is obviously a waste of time to sow seeds in July, of any flower or vegetable that needs a long growing season, winter is round the corner and in the British Isles, few places are spared form its clutches. We now need to concentrate our efforts on plants that either grow in a short space of time or types that are not affected by frosts and cold weather. With this in mind it is easy to decide what is still worth sowing, but let me give you a few examples with a few extra growing tips:
Beetroot, Swiss Chard or Rainbow (Rhubarb) Chard: it is a bit too late for the long varieties but the round varieties only need around 3 months to mature, and can still be planted . The chards are from the same family, even if you don’t like the taste it is worth growing Rainbow chard on your allotment, as its vibrant colourful leaves ignite the boring green of the vegetable patch!
Beans –French : Some varieties can mature in as little as 8 weeks, there are bush varieties and climbers, standard green podded ones, and purple or yellow ones if you like something different. They are usually eaten with the pods so it is important to pick them young before they get hard and stringy.
Carrot – Of course its too late to win the longest carrot at the show, but if you just want to grow a sweet carrot to bite into there is still enough time. Some claim that the carrot fly is less damaging at this time of the year but if you really want to be cruel to this little insect grow a resistant variety like ‘Flyaway’ or ‘Resistafly’.
Chinese Cabbage and Pak choi – These enjoy a cooler autumn climate to mature. You can continue to sow these seeds over the next few months – they grow quickly unlike their namesake the cabbage – I don’t know why they are not called Chinese lettuce , as they are closer in taste and in use to a lettuce!
Kohlrabi – I think this an underrated vegetable it grows rapidly and at the size of a large egg it tastes really good, don’t leave it too long in the ground as it will go woody. It can be mixed with carrots instead of cabbage for an imitation coleslaw – it tastes a bit more crunchy but many of our guests at the dinner table can’t tell the difference!
Pea – the first early varieties like Feltham First Klevedon Wonder, have a shorter growing time and they can still be sown now for an autumn crop. My main problem with pea sowing is field mice, they love the pea seeds and dig them out from under the ground. This year I decided to be one step ahead of them – I sowed the pea seeds in modules in my conservatory and when they were around 15cm. high I took them to my allotment and left them in the poly tunnel for a couple of days. To my despair I returned after the weekend and the mice had played havoc tunnelling under each seedling to remove the original pea seed leaving all the broken seedlings sprawled all over the module tray. I could win them by putting a mouse trap in place but I feel that except for pea seeds they don’t do any other damage- and the allotment is the field mouse’s domain more than mine – so it would not be right to punish them for just stealing a few pea seeds! Instead I will go back to the old method of planting in the ground and covering the whole area with fine netting.
Radish: is the quickest vegetable to grow and needs no introduction. This picture is from a recent crop of mine, the variety is called ’Icicle’. The pure white roots are considerably longer than the common French breakfast. I find a common pest on radish is the flea beetle that makes little holes all over radishes grown without protection. It seems that they are attracted to the red colour as they don’t seem to bother with this white variety. Now is also the time to begin to make sowings of the winter radish, the black Spanish varieties- these grow to turnip size and can be kept in the ground all winter until needed. ( They can be eaten fresh or cooked)
If there is any other vegetable that you really want to grow this year but it is too late to sow seeds, garden centres are still loaded with ready grown small veg. plants!
Actually sowing seeds now has many advantages – the soil is much warmer and therefore the seeds germinate quicker and if the weather will continue as it has done, you don’t even need to water the drills after the initial sowing!
Please look at my easy inventions that I wrote about last week for you to copy to make your seed sowing an easier experience!
Money saving tip:
1] I just heard some inside information about B&Q and their glasshouses. B&Q are changing the method they sell glasshouses and until the final changeover comes into place, they are literally getting rid of all the old stock in store. This explains why they are giving away a full glasshouse (excl. glass) for £22 or a base for £5, and I understand there are more give- aways in the pipeline – check out in the store near to you. I don’t need another glasshouse (I am also not sure if the glass or plastic is readily available), but I just could not resist the offer so I bought one there and then – I intend covering it with mesh and using it as a fruit cage which would otherwise coat at least £130 and not be as sturdy. The base for £5 will also come in useful as a raised bed.
2] As we know supermarkets are not 24/7 gardeners like we are, as far as they are concerned gardening materials are a seasonal item sold for a couple of months after Easter. Tesco has long removed all their gardening gear, and Sainsbury desperately needs the shelf space for something else, so we gardeners are the ones to cash in. All Sainsbury gardening items , from gloves to spades , from twine to shears, are adorned with red stickers reducing the prices by at least a third – go grab a bargain!
Enjoy your gardening week!
Next week : Do we have to stop picking rhubarb now?