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Top July Allotment Tips

Our Top July Allotment Tips is back and the weather this year to date has been one of extremes. It feels like every month has had its own unique challenges. The last two decades have seen these wide fluctuations in weather become a common trend. In much of the UK, the ground is currently very dry. Rain for many has been at a premium.

Watering on the Plot

Slug and snail activity is rapidly reduced in dry soil. Inevitably, watering requirements increase and on many plots, water butts are running low or empty. On my allotment site where we are lucky to have mains water, socially distanced queues have formed for the taps at times!

For sites without mains water, it can be a real struggle. Individual plot husbandry makes a huge difference. Plot holders with plenty of organic matter in the soil generally need to waterless. Raised beds, unfortunately, dry out quicker, but conversely, drain better in wet spells. In the past decade summers seems are becoming markedly drier and allotment holders should try to take appropriate steps to combat this. Sometimes this is easier said than done.

Top July Allotment Tips water butt

Talking Strawberries

Top July Allotment Tips strawberries

Its been wonderful to be picking bountiful, super juicy, sun-ripened strawberries from the allotment over the past couple of weeks. After a reluctant start, the strawberry plants have been spurred on by the recent sunny weather. Strawberries aside from being vitamin-rich are so easy to grow and are perfect for allotment newbies. Beds should ideally be replaced after three years. Choices for growing strawberries from seed have improved over the years. F1 ‘Temptation’ produces tasty medium-sized fruit. If alpine strawberries are your thing, try ‘Regina’ which I really easy to grow.

Peas, Potatoes & Lovely Asparagus

My early peas ‘Early Onward’ began cropping at the end of June. The overall height of the plants is lower than normal but the yield is substantial. I’ve been regularly watering the rows with a watering can as peas do like damp soil containing well-rotted manure.

My container-grown first early potatoes ‘Swift’ has lived up to their name and reached maturity in just over ten weeks. Although yields in containers are lower than when grown in the ground the tubers delightful and are generally free of damage. The skin is also usually blemish-free. I’ve grown my earlies in the greenhouse and if they are kept moist, they don’t mind the warmer temperatures.

Around Father’s Day time, I made my last asparagus harvest of the year. This will allow the crowns to build up strength for next year. To help with this, I top dress the crowns with handfuls of well-rotted manure or soil improver.

Sowing Seeds

Top July Allotment Tips sowing seeds

I’ve been sowing quite a few seeds lately with an eye on winter. In early June I made final sowings of savoy winter cabbage ‘Ormskirk Rearguard’. If you enjoy savoy cabbages but have clubroot in your soil, the variety ‘Cordesa’ is an excellent clubroot-resistant savoy.

I also made a midsummer sowing of swede in trays, to transplant next month. Admittedly this is an extra step, but it does result in strong plants. Swede can be sown directly of course at this time of year and this avoids the risk of root disturbance.

However, flea beetle almost always attacks the seedlings, weakening them significantly when small. This can be mitigated by covering the rows with fleece or enviromesh for the first few weeks. The effects are less problematic when the plants are larger. Reliable variety choices are ‘Invitation’ and ‘Ruby’.

Troublesome Sprouts & Keeping an Eye on Your Courgettes!

Since last month a number of Brussel Sprouts plants have frustratingly run to seed and this is quite unusual. The seedlings struggled to get established in the cold spring and I think a combination of variable temperatures, dryness and then daytime heat put paid to them. The rest seem okay, fingers crossed! The same fate has befallen many overwintered onions. By taking out the flower spike has enabled the plants to keep growing, though some bulbs have split into two.

One of the joys of gardening is that it keeps us on our toes and nothing is ever certain. We wouldn’t want it any other way, would we? No matter what setbacks we may encounter, there is a bounty of tasty summer crops to look ahead to and that feels great.

Finally do remember to keep a regular eye on your courgettes. They need regular picking or they may turn into marrows literally overnight! That is your Top July Allotment Tips!

Top July Allotment Tips courgettes

We hope you have enjoyed our Top July Allotment Tips and stay tuned for more in August.

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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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