July at Cholwell

July in the garden is all about making sure you have enough in the ground to satisfy your summer needs. It is easy to get distracted and before you know it there are no French beans any more, where there could have been a second crop. Or lettuce for that matter.

Some things are done, like strawberries and asparagus, and you can only truly get one crop of others like sweet corn and runner beans.

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Sow more beetroot now and another row of carrots. Proper old gardeners I know just keep sowing even if it never makes the ground. At least it is there if space appears. I still have some spare courgettes just in case.

We are coming to the end of the 20 week online course ‘How to Grow Organic Veg’. I hope everyone has enjoyed it. It has been lots of fun filming what has been going on in the garden each week. We have had some fantastic early season crops and now into July despite a lot of grey days (typical west country weather here in south Devon) most things are doing ok.

runner-beans-growingAs the years go by I tend to leave my winter brassica sowing until a bit later. It was done by the third week in June this year. Too many cabbages in the ground can lead to club root. It is on the way back thanks to our obsession with endless varieties of kale and the rise in popularity of autumn ready purple sprouting broccoli (a terrible invention that).

Counter it by getting more legumes in. They bring so much life to the soil. Sow late crops of sugar snap peas and mange tout. Forget maincrop peas, they are prone to pea moth.

Sow a green manure and see what happens. Phacelia is good after the bees have foraged on the flowers, or a red clover. Even buckweheat. Rotation is very important on a garden scale if you are brassica heavy.

Don’t forget to put some seed potatoes aside from your early varieties. Put them away in the cool and dark if you can. About the size of a hen’s egg is perfect.

If you are growing maincrops and there is no sign of blight you can make a tea from mare’s tail (Equisetum arevense) and spray it on the plant and the soil once a day for three days in succession. It is a preventative not a cure and it works. It is a favourite among biodynamic growers.

Fill a bucket with the scratchy leaves of mare’s tail and then fill with cold water, preferably rainwater. Leave overnight and then spray in the afternoon on a dry day. The plant is made up of around 40% silica (in effect light) and the effect it has is to drive that light into the soil and combat the rise of the fungus.

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