I first grew Chinese Kale ‘Kailaan’ (also known as Gai lan or ‘Kai laan’) in about 2006; I was really impressed by this vegetable’s speedy growth and the bounteous harvest my plants produced. ‘Kai lan’ leaves, flower buds, and stems are all edible, but it’s the stems that provide the main harvest. Try it raw, stir-fried, steamed, or boiled; ‘Kai lan’ is a little like broccoli. I prefer to eat ‘Kai lan’ raw, as I enjoy the sweet pea-like flavour that this raw vegetable has.
There’s no need to start your plants off in seed trays. Sow ‘Kai lan’ seeds directly in the soil where you want your plants to grow; spacing your seeds 20cm (8inches) apart. When your plants begin producing flower buds it’s time to take your first harvest. Cut the stems, leaving little stumps just above the soil. If the weather is dry, water your plants after harvesting and you’ll find your ‘Kai lan’ plants will sprout new shoots in a surprisingly short amount of time. ‘Kai lan’ is very productive; it couldn’t be easier to grow – I’ve grown it successfully in the shade inside my Vegepod, as well as in sunshine and partial shade!
Kohlrabi is one of my favourite vegetables; its swollen stems look incredible and I adore Kohlrabi’s delicious sweet and nutty flavour. Purple or green forms of Kohlrabi are available, but when their tough outer skins are removed, both types look the same – a pale green-ivory colour. Kohlrabi tastes great raw, but you can also steam, stir-fry, roast, or boil it.
Most Kohlrabi varieties should be harvested before they grow bigger than a golf ball, any larger and they become tough and woody. However, Kohlrabi ‘Gigant’ (from Real Seeds) produces supersized round green vegetables that remain tender when they weigh in at 4kg (9lbs)! This is another easy-to-grow vegetable; sow your seeds directly in the soil – there’s no need to start your plants in seed trays. Both ‘Kai lan’ and Kohlrabi plants thrive in sunshine or partial shade.
It’s important to deadhead dahlias, roses, sweet peas, annuals, and repeat flowering plants. Once plants switch from flower production to seed production, they’re unlikely to generate more flowers. These plants will produce an abundance of blooms, if you deadhead them regularly. Avoid deadheading any plants that produce berries, roses with decorative hips, once flowering plants, like Alliums, and any plants that you’re growing for their seed heads.
The Big Butterfly Count takes runs from the 15th July 2022 until the 7th August 2022. If you want to take part, simply spend 15 minutes, (ideally on a sunny day, as you’re more likely to see butterflies in warm, sunny weather), counting butterflies and moths. You can choose to take your Butterfly Count in your garden or allotment, or in public parks and gardens, forests, woodlands, or nature reserves, or whilst you’re taking a walk! This is a lovely, free activity for all the family. You’ll find more information about The Big Butterfly Count on Butterfly Conservation’s website. Meanwhile, you can discover the results of my Butterfly Counts, via this link here.
For more gardening advice for July, please click here.
For more gardening advice for August, please click here.
This article was first published in the July 2020 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.
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For gardening advice for mid-July to mid-August, please click here.
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