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Top July Allotment Tips

After last month’s blog the rains finally came. With it came the inevitable flushes of weeds.

Within days some previously weed-free patches of my allotment had a carpet of newly germinated weeds. If the soil is damp, the larger weeds pull up remarkably easily by hand.

If weeds are not dealt with quickly, our veg plants can quickly become overrun and outcompeted for nutrients and water.

The welcome rain has moved our plants on apace. Brassicas with their large leaf surface area have responded in amazing fashion. No matter how much tap water we give our plants it just isn’t as beneficial as several days worth of rain.

I’ve had a tasty crop of Pak Choi ‘F1 Hanakan’ this summer with the promise of more to come. These trouble-free members of the brassica clan are great in stir-fries. I use them as cut and cut again leaves. The centre leaves can also be eaten raw in a salad. If left longer they will form a heart.

I’m growing my Pak Choi plants in a large pot and they’ve romped away in a semi-shady position. The main requirements are plenty of water and protection from too much sun. I’ll be sowing a further crop during August to harvest through to the winter.

There is an exciting array of other crops to enjoy now too. From succulent peas and broad beans to first and second early potatoes, delicious with a sprig of allotment-grown mint.

Not to be outdone my courgettes are typically prolific. This is a crop that that ensures you need to make frequent visits to the allotment during summer. Failure to harvest every three or four days will result in marrows forming. This of course can also create another culinary opportunity. The allotment mantra of ‘waste not, want not’ rings as true as ever!

There is plenty to enjoy in the fruit garden too as the strawberries come to an end. Other favourites such as blackcurrants, blueberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, whitecurrants are all usually ready for picking during July.

I’m continuing to make regular sowings of turnip ‘Golden Ball’. These are remarkably hardy and I harvest directly from the ground in mild winters up until Christmas, sometimes later.

We can never take our eye off the growing calendar and July is an important month for those of us who enjoy spring cabbage. It is a real treat to harvest these succulent cabbages in April and May. To do that we should sow the seeds this month in a seed bed outdoors. I like the variety ‘Wheelers Imperial’. This is a real all-rounder as it can also be sown in spring for harvesting in Autumn.

A companion is Kale which is a real winter stalwart. Kale can be planted in September as small potted plants or in July or August as a plug plant. The variety ‘Reflex’ is a hardy curly variety and like all kale is rich in nutrients.

Overwintered onions and garlic planted last autumn can be harvested when the tops yellow. Carefully lift the bulbs, and remove any spent foliage. Dry them in the sun on a wire rack for a few days, before storing in a dark, dry location for use over winter.

This is a wonderful period in the allotment year as we enjoy the fruits of our efforts over the past few months. At the same time we begin a brand new journey towards winter. Allotment life is never dull and is always busy whatever the weather!

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Lee Senior

About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years. After initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn't resist getting his hands dirty to make a living. Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton" says Lee. "It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn't have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift. Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother nature, not to fight against her and don't try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do. Small-scale food growing is my passion and I can't wait for my two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live. Lee has also written his two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

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