A garden addict has to get her fix, so last weekend I popped to our local garden centre.
I naively asked a sales assistant where the vegetable section was. The look on his face told me everything I needed to know.
There were no vegetable plants left – not even a single tray of broken beans or sad-looking lettuce. It made me realise that if I was just getting into gardening, I’d had left thinking I’d missed the boat on homegrown crops this year.
Which brings me to the important bit. Yes, it’s July, but it’s certainly not too late to grow your own!
To make myself feel better, I went home and rummaged around in my seed tins planning the next few months. While I’m also planning crops for Autumn and Winter harvests, there’s still plenty of time to sow some seeds for summer produce, so I thought I’d share what I’m growing now…
There’s still plenty of time to sow summer salads, which are also perfect for pots and smaller spaces, and there’s bags of time if you’re looking to grow autumn and winter salads. I’m a big fan of homegrown salad. We don’t tend to grow individual lettuces as much, but I love mixed salad combinations which are cut and come again. It also means you can harvest a few leaves to accompany meals when it takes your fancy. So this weekend I’ll do another round of mixed leaves, as well as rocket and spinach which are essentials in our house.
This year I’m slightly obsessed with radish. Interestingly a number ‘disappear’ when I’m at the allotment, certainly not directly into my mouth. They’re such an easy crop to grow in the smallest of spaces – just make sure you water them to swell them, and you should get some in three-four weeks. I’ve done a few different varieties this year and have just planted a breakfast radish, as well as some mooli/daikon radish. These take longer to grow but are apparently nice in stir fries, so I’ll keep you updated.
Speaking of stir fries, I’ve got lots of other slightly more unusual seeds germinating such as callaloo and mexican tree spinach, which you can grow now if you’re feeling mildly adventurous!
Spring onions and other leafy greens (think spinach beet, pak choi etc) can also be sown now, and there’s still time to grow fennel, endive, chicory and chard. Last year our chard sown at this time kept going all through winter. Even when battered with snow in March its rainbow colours still stood out on the plot, so I’m more than a little charmed by its leaves. I also personally wouldn’t recommend sowing pak choi before now unless it’s in a slightly shaded area, as it’s quite prone to bolting.
There’s still time to grow lots of fast-growing herbs outside to accompany your meals, such as coriander, parsley and basil – which can be brought inside for winter.
Oh sweet brassicas of joy
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I flipping love brassicas. Kale and broccoli can still be sown now for a late Autumn harvest and, if protected (especially from pigeons in my case!), can produce winter crops too.
You still have time to sow some spring cabbages to overwinter, and if you’re looking for a quick crop try sowing some kohl rabi seeds directly, which can be eaten in as little as eight weeks.
Roots and friends
Time is still your friend if you want to sow carrots and turnips, and last weekend I did a row of the humble swede for the very first time, which I’m really excited about. I’ll also do another sowing of beetroot to make sure I have a succession through Autumn for use in warming soups.
You still have time to sow some french beans and runner beans if you want to extend your harvesting season, as well as any last sowings of peas.
A really good guide if you want to grow something is to look at how long the produce takes to grow before it can be cropped, and then work back from your last frost. With carrots for example, look for varieties which mature quickly, and you can be harvesting for months to come!
Right, I better get on with sowing some more seeds. Let me know if you’re still growing things or I’ve missed something – I can pick up the seeds on my next garden centre fix…
Thanks for reading!