The Garden in July

Crocosmia Lucifer, lavender, marigolds, roses & miniature pansies in the ground; petunias & lobelia in window boxes

This is the fifth summer we've been in this house and I can honestly say that its the first year the garden is starting to feel really established.  The trees, the herbaceous border, the clematis.  All giving the feeling of maturity and structure.  Of course, most things are in full bloom in July, which adds to the richness of it all.

I tend to be a bit of a hands-off, guerrilla gardener and will "have a go" at seeing what works well on its own, with minimal interference from me.  But this year I've decided to use a potassium feed on the flowering plants as well as the bog standard organic seaweed feed I usually give them.  The results are easy to see.  Many more blooms on the roses, marigolds, petunias and dahlias.
Roses definitely benefit from a potassium feed

Petunias & lobelia 

Dahlias, petunias & lobelia

A word to the wise - if you keep flowering plants in pots, they need more water and more food than plants in the ground.  It will work, but they require a bit more effort from you to be at their best.  I've also had a great result using nematodes this year, its the first year I have a good sunflower and cabbage crop (I sow directly into the soil and in years past the slugs have eaten 95% of the sunflower & cabbage seedlings).

I also cannot over emphasise how a little effort goes a long way.  Keeping the grass cut, getting out and pulling up weeds when you see them, a little constant effort goes a massive way in keeping the garden tidy and in control.  Even though its one of the busiest months in the garden, the constant weeding and feeding I've done since winter means I get to enjoy the view and put my feet up, content to let things tick over on their own.  That doesn't mean you can ignore the garden altogether in July - I average working in it about 1-2hrs per day.  But as with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So how are the veg beds doing this summer? Let's take a look...

I've already cropped the mixed lettuce once (only a week ago!) and its nearly ready to be cut again.  Great for summer salads.
Mixed lettuce

The sweet corn is coming up well so far, as it matures I will pollinate by hand and hopefully we'll have two ears per stalk this year.
Sweet corn 

This is my first year growing spinach, which has been interesting.  It can shoot really fast so I've just cropped it all down to 2 inches and its growing back so well I should be able to take a second cutting in 7-10 days.
A row of spinach, a fast grower!

The peas got off to a slow start this year but are now looking good so I'm hopeful we'll have a good crop, especially if we have an Indian summer.  Remember to harvest pea shoots when they're ripe.  The more you take, the more flowers the plants will put out (up until colder weather).
A tower of peas

In the back garden I'm sowing in intervals and hoping to overwinter cabbage, onions, leeks and beets.  The garden works as the best storage ever for winter crops.  Some of the cabbage is ready to eat now, so I'm cutting back leaves during the week to add to dinners.  I decided not to harvest the very last leek of last year as its shooting and I'd like to see it flower, just to see what happens.  Its about 6 foot tall at the moment, with a flower head just smaller than a sliotar so if it gets pollinated and can self seed, terrific!
Cabbage, ready to eat. Not ready to eat are the leeks & onions growing nearby. 

Also coming up in the back garden veg beds are carrots, curly kale and courgettes.  The courgettes got a late start this year so I'm not holding my breath but they're such a plentiful plant that if I get even a little harvest, I'll consider that a win.
From front to back: lavender; veg box 1: primroses, carrots, onions, leeks,  cabbage, curly kale, courgette; veg box 2: onions, leeks, cabbage, spinach, courgette

The apple trees are doing better this year than the past two previous years, have more apples and the apples they have are already bigger and healthier looking than at this time last year.
Apple tree 1 

Apple tree 2

The loganberry bushes I purchased this winter have flowered and are fruiting, albeit thinly but I do not mind as I wasn't even sure they would flower this year.  I'm picking the berries right off and eating them and they're delicious.  Its handy that they are ready to harvest in July as the blackberries have another month or so to go and its great to have soft fruit pickings in the garden on a consistent basis, at least for a couple of months.  The blackberry harvest looks to be a big one this year, hopefully I'll get a whole pie out of it as well as fresh berries for breakfast each morning.
Ripening loganberry 
Blackberry bush is still flowering but already you can see the berries starting to grow

The mint is, of course, shooting up faster than I can cut it back.  I have it in the ground now (some prefer to put it in pots because of its ability to take over everything) and might have to lift it at some stage but for the moment its manageable.
A carpet of mint

One of the most pleasant surprises I've had this year is the wildflowers I scattered as seed out the back on the little piece of communal land I've taken over to look after.  It is glorious and really makes that piece of land stand out.  I also notice loads of bees and pollinators around that area so I'm delighted with that.
Wild flower / pollinator party

Wee patch of land I look after at back of house.  Maple tree surrounded by snow in summer, catmint & lavender with wildflowers scattered throughout. 

That's it so far! I'm hoping the carrot crop is a good one and looking forward to eating fresh peas, right out of the garden soon.  But whatever the harvest, its great to just be outside with my hands in the dirt. Enjoy! 


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