July Gardening: Edibles & Flowers

When midsummer passes us by, rhubarb production naturally slows down.  Unless you’re growing a late summer and autumn cropping rhubarb (like ‘Livingstone’), stop picking rhubarb now to allow your plants to build up their strength for next year’s harvests.  Rhubarb thrives in wet summers.  After heavy rain (or a thorough watering), spread a mulch of well-rotted manure or homemade garden compost over the soil around your plants.

I stop harvesting my rhubarb plants from the middle of June onwards. This allows my plants to regain their strength to produce another bumper harvest next spring. Remember to water rhubarb in times of drought in spring and summertime.

When we think of growing peas, we usually picture a bounty of pea-pods filled with deliciously sweet-tasting peas, but actually the whole pea plant is edible: we can also feast on pea shoots, tendrils, and leaves!  I adore the fresh flavour pea shoots bring to my meals.  Growing pea shoots is a super way of using up old packets of pea seeds and a quick method to produce a substantial harvest.  Any type of pea can be grown for pea shoots, ignore the details on the seed pack (height, sowing, harvest time, etc.), as you’ll be cultivating short plants that will be harvested and cut again, as they grow.  Peas must have bright sunshine to grow.  Sow your peas directly in the soil or grow in containers of peat-free compost, in a sunny area.

Any type of pea can be grown to produce pea shoots: use up any half-empty seed packs or out of date seeds for growing pea shoots.  Pea shoots can be grown in containers or directly in the soil.  Your pea plants will re-grow after you cut your harvest to give you more delicious pea shoots a few weeks later.
This is Cabbage ‘Durham Early’, a small sized, reliable spring cabbage.

Sow seeds of cabbages now to produce a harvest that will be ready in springtime.  Chinese cabbages are so tasty; they’re faster growing than spring cabbages and can also be grown from seed in July.

Chinese cabbages are very beautiful as well as very tasty!

Both Chinese and spring cabbages need a sunny position.  Sow seeds in a seed bed or use a seed tray filled with peat-free compost.  Take care to cover your sowings (I use Enviromesh) to protect your plants from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies.  Cabbages need moisture-retentive soils with good drainage, so ensure the ground isn’t permanently wet.  Cabbages also require a neutral soil – they’ll be happy with a pH of around 6-7.5.

Spring cabbages are grown from seed sown in late summer.
Cabbages and brassicas are food plants for many insects, including Cabbage White Butterflies. To avoid caterpillars or pigeons devouring your plants, protect your cabbages with a home made frame – I use plastic hoops covered with Enviromesh. Please never use pesticides in your garden – covering your plants is far more effective.
A range of parsley varieties are available, including flat leaved parsley and curled parsley. This is flat leaved parsley.

Parsley enjoys a similar soil pH to cabbages but will grow in sunshine or shade.  Seeds can be sown directly in the soil or in containers of peat-free compost indoors or outside.  When I got my allotment over 20 years ago, my friend Bud advised me to sow a row of parsley seeds then pour boiling water along the freshly sown row to encourage germination.

Parsley can be grown in pots indoors on a windowsill or in containers outdoors. Alternatively, parsley seeds can be sown directly in the row or area where you want your plants to grow.
Deadhead Erigeron glaucus ‘Sea Breeze’ for flowers all summer and autumn.
A bee feasting from an Erigeron karvinskianus flower. Cut back Erigeron karvinskianus plants as the flowers fade to encourage your plants to produce new blooms.

Have your hardy Geraniums, Mexican Fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus), Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum), Marjoram, and Oregano flowers faded?  A good haircut will encourage these plants to bloom again.

Cut back Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum) plants as the flowers fade to encourage your plants to produce new blooms.
Allow your lavender flowers to die back on your plants to produce seed. Lavender seed is a precious source of food for birds in autumn. I’ve found that Goldfinches relish lavender seeds!

I used to cut back my lavender plants after flowering; then one year I allowed my plants to set seed and discovered that Goldfinches delight in devouring lavender seeds in autumn.  I will never deadhead lavender again!

If you’re going on holiday, pick all the flowers from your repeat-flowering plants: sweet peas, Cosmos, and Dahlias before you leave, and you’ll return home to an abundance of new flowers.  Why not give a bunch of homegrown flowers to one of your neighbours?

If you’re going on holiday cut all of your sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) flowers and flower buds before you leave. When you arrive home, you’ll be greeted by new sweet pea blooms.

For more gardening advice for July, please click here.

To see my plant pages and see pictures and information to help you grow a wide range of plants from vegetables, fruit, and herbs, to roses, shrubs, trees, houseplants and orchids, please click here.

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One thought on “July Gardening: Edibles & Flowers

  1. Maureen Knight

    July 8, 2022 at 12:07pm

    Thanks Beth for your tip on lavender seed, will try it this year.

    Maureen

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      July 8, 2022 at 12:10pm

      Hello Maureen

      It’s great to hear from you. I hope your local birds enjoy eating lavender seeds as much as the birds in my garden do!

      I hope you have a lovely weekend lined up.

      Best wishes
      Beth

  2. LisaG

    July 8, 2022 at 1:41pm

    Hi Beth,

    Another excellent post!

    And I agree – the goldfinches LOVE lavender seed. Our veg area has a 5 mtr edge of lavender and it gets covered in goldfinches later in autumn (later than I expected). Glorious! Free bird food that they forage in a natural way.

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      July 8, 2022 at 1:46pm

      Hello Lisa

      It’s great to hear from you. How lovely for your goldfinches to have a lavender hedge to forage in! I love watching birds – it’s so relaxing, and watching goldfinches having fun is very up-lifting.

      I hope you have a lovely weekend lined up.

      Best wishes
      Beth

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