July tips

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Hot, stormy barbecue season…
You’re sowing less, tying in and harvesting more, as crops get into their stride, some, such as courgettes and squashes colonising vast areas apparently overnight. Blackfly and greenfly might need to be squirted off affected plants with a good jet of the hose, while slugs and snails can still be a problem, even if the vulnerable seedling stage is, in most cases, over. I put slugs and snails in a little plastic flip-top bin and then empty them into the food waste to be taken away by the council every week or so. At least that way I know they’re not coming back!
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Plants are now producing in earnest – keep picking beans, courgettes and squashes to encourage the plants to produce more. This applies to sweetpeas too, if you’ve got these in amongst your beans. Keep pinching out the sideshoots of cordon tomato plants and feed them every week or so with a high potash feed such as liquid seaweed.
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What can I sow now? Keep sowing carrots, french beans, peas, beetroot, chard, spinach, lettuce, rocket and other salad crops. It’s also time to sow florence fennel, chicories and kale. Most crops can be sown direct (and for fennel and rocket this is the best option), but if it makes it easier, sow other crops in plug trays and transplant when bigger.

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Top tip… everlasting lettuce You can never have too much lettuce. For a constant year-long supply, sow a mix of varieties in a module tray, then transplant them to big pots or the soil when they reach the five leaf stage. Then refill the tray straight away and sow again. This not only gives you a year-round harvest, but a lovely variety of textures, colours and tastes. Try mixing crunch cos types with frilly oakleafs, both red and green.
Watch out for… Powdery mildew Looks like your courgette leaves have been dipped in talc? This fungal disease strikes when there is a combination of humid air and dry earth. Fight it by keeping plants well ventilated (by removing some leaves or even whole plants) and the ground well watered. Some people swear by mixing milk with water and spraying that on to the leaves, but this has never worked for me… anyone had success with it?

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