One man & his organic plot - July 2019

It’s not long before the schools break up here in London and this is signifying a change of atmosphere in the city. Roads and public transport are emptier and the whole place feels less manic.
Pollinators on sunflowers

However, no matter what part of the UK you live in, enjoying July in the garden, allotment or balcony is something that has been well and truly earned. Those hard months of slog should have now resulted in an outdoor space that is giving back all you have put in. Fresh home grown food should be being reaped and abundant with colour. This really is a time to soak up the wonders of growing plants.

As far as work in the garden goes, this really is a time to be ticking things over. Keep an eye for any unwanted plants popping up in uninvited places. Hoe them out and turn their roots up to the sun, always remembering the mantra ‘weed before they seed’, this will stop quick growing annual plants like chickweed taking over any empty ground. Perennial weeds, if deemed to be in competition with our chosen plants, can be removed and added to ‘tea’ and then recycled as a liquid feed. Hopefully though all your hard work has resulted in full growing spaces and not allowing the light or the space for seeds to germinate. It should also cut down your watering by reducing transpiration from the soil, this can be further aided by mulching or top dressing around your plants with an organic material such as compost or grass clippings.

Of course for the edible gardener harvesting now begins and I have been really enjoying fresh lettuce, spinach and rocket in my salads. It really is impossible to beat these plants fresh from the ground when it comes to taste and the fact I have grown them myself guarantees I have a pure organic product. Some plants like the legumes still haven’t got going. The cool temperatures have stopped the soil warming up sufficiently and particularly the runner beans have sat, and barely moved since I planted them out. As compensation though, the french beans seem more resilient and have now got going. Of course this is my experience in North London, and you may well have a different story.

If you are feeling lively you can still sow crops, either in your garden or in containers. A large container on my balcony is now my ‘salad bar’, with quick crops like salad and rocket, sown and re-sown in regular cycles, proving that lack of space is no obstacle in having fresh food to graze on. One thing about my balcony garden that amazes me, and it does every year, is the impact of liquid seaweed feeds. The combination of this organic fertiliser with sunshine and careful attention to watering has really moved the balcony garden along.

Although it’s time to be a bit more laid back in July, jobs like composting must not be forgotten. If it currently appears dry then a watering can full of water will help, I also like to turn my compost as I feel it helps break it down. One recent addition to the bin is the strips of paper I get from shredding the annoying junk mail I receive and also paper work that has served its use. There seems to be an endless supply of this and shredded and mixed with green waste really helps the compost break down.

Well it’s been a busy time at Garden Organic and looks to continue into July with RHS Tatton Flower show coming up. I’m looking forward to working with the Ryton gardeners who have grown an amazing array of heritage plants. It’s then on for a week of work for me at the flower show, with Garden Organic talks and working with the RHS, seed sowing with families in the school garden section.

Before I go it’s important to mention the Garden Organic AGM, which felt very productive this year, with lots of passionate discussion and set in the amazing grounds of St Fagans National Museum of History. It’s good that we are all moving forward.

So make sure you sit back, sip a beer, enjoy your flowers and delicious fresh food - happy gardening.