Gardening Diary July

Another month when we need to be in the allotment almost daily, this time to harvest crops. It doesn’t take long for the peas to harden in the pods, the French beans to go stringy, the coriander, lettuces and spinach to bolt or the soft fruit to overripen and fall off.Not quite so urgent but still must-does for this month are transplanting the leeks and lifting the onions and shallots for drying. Also carrots, beetroot and turnips are best picked young for freshness. enjoy them now and leave later crops for storage.Early carrots picked are thinnings and should be picked in the early morning or evening when carrot fly is least active. This month you will also be digging up first early potatoes as needed. Don’t forgot to carry on earthing up maincrop potatoes to maximise the crop by encouraging side shoots.Cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli provide an abundance of green vegetables at this time. Protect the heads of cauliflower by sllghtly pulling them out of the ground and laying them on their side facing north (the railway line). Alternatively break the outer leaves halfway down and cover the head.Summer pruning of fruit trees, fans and espaliers can be carried out this month to maintain or train the shape. Also it is useful to snip the tips off the lateral shoots, but not the leaders, of redcurrant bushes to no more than five leaves. Don’t worry about apples, plums and pears shedding fruit – this is normal so that the tree is not too laden.As you free up ground from broad beans, early potatoes and other crops fill up the space with aubergines, tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse, sow kale, spring cabbage and beet, and continue planting salad crops.Most of all remember that this is probably the best time of year in the allotment. There is nothing to beat surveying the fruits of your labour on a fine summer day!