July in the Garden

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!

Purple or green varieties of Kohlrabi are available. Most are best enjoyed when they’re golf ball to tennis ball sized – any larger and they become tough and unpleasant to eat.
Kohlrabi ‘Lanro’ is a kohlrabi variety that is best eaten when it’s young. If you’re growing this variety, make sure you harvest your plants when they’re about the size of a golf ball.

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.

Unlike many Kohlrabi varieties, ‘Gigant’ produces large spherical stems that grow to 4kg (or more) in weight; yet this variety remains tender – these kohlrabi don’t become woody.

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.

Dahlia ‘Pink Pat and Perc’ is a pink collarette dahlia. Deadhead your plants regularly to promote flowering.
Dahlia ‘Teesbrooke Audrey’ is a delightful dahlia that produces these pretty soft lilac and white coloured flowers. Remember to keep deadheading your dahlias, to keep your plants flowering.

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.

Dahlia ‘Pooh – Swan Island’ is a fun and cheerful dahlia that will brighten up your garden or allotment!
It’s really important to make time to deadhead sweet peas regularly. You can double your harvest of flowers just by picking your sweet peas more often – the more flowers you pick the more blooms your plants will produce. This is a lovely sweet pea called Lathyrus odoratus ‘Naomi Nazareth’.
Pick sweet pea flowers as often as you can – at least once a week – but if you can pick flowers twice a week (or more), so much the better; as your plants will produce more flowers. Sweet peas go to seed quickly; this flower wasn’t picked, so the plant has has stopped flower production, as it’s producing seeds. Don’t be tempted to eat sweet pea seed pods or seeds – they’re toxic.
Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Cupcakes White’ produces these stunning white cupped blooms that really do resemble cup cake cases! Keep deadheading all your Cosmos flowers, to keep your plants flowering.

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.

Other articles that may interest you………

For gardening advice for mid-July to mid-August, please click here.

To see lots of articles with gardening advice for July, please click here.

For trialled and tested tips to protect your seedlings from slugs and snails, please click here.

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