It’s summer – you just got your new allotment, and everything is in full bloom or already flowered and you feel you’ve missed the boat. And you have to some extent, but that’s not to say it’s time to down tools and give up until next year. The soil has only just reached that sweet spot that many plants need to grow, so while you may have missed out on starting seeds indoors, there are many plants that still need your attention.
Of course, much of this issue of timing need no longer be a problem for the keen home-grower. The increasing availability of hydroponic growing equipment, with a little practice and the right hydroponic nutrients, extends the growing season well beyond the constraints of traditional gardening. There are more ways than one to get the fresh taste of newly picked produce that need never see the inside of a refrigerator.
Get your beanpoles out
While your neighbours’ French Beans and Runners may already be flourishing, it’s common to do another sowing at this time of year in any available space – so you haven’t yet missed out on this summer favourite. A crop of peas might also still make it through before the frost, although it is quite late for them.
Go carrot mad
Carrot cake. If there’s no other incentive, there you have it. There’s still plenty of time to get a good crop of carrots from fast-maturing varieties like Adelaide and Amsterdam Forcing.
Direct Sow Winter salad veg in early-to-mid summer
If you can manage it by the end of July, sow beetroot outside to catch the autumn harvest. Summer is also the time to sow perpetual spinach for harvest in the winter months. Sow endive now to use up any blank spots for an interesting salad leaf that adds an authentic Italian flavour for your autumn and winter meals.
Wait until mid-summer or later before sowing Pak choi, as it tends to bolt if planted sooner. Corn salad and land cress should also be sown now. Direct sow your turnips now for harvest after 60 days.
Keep a good little production line of small repeat sowings going for radishes, lettuce and other salad leaves, along with your favourite variety of fast-growing spring onions,
While many Brussels Sprout plants require an early summer planting, there are later varieties and some unusual hybrids available that you can still take advantage of in time to ensure additions to the Christmas dinner. Sprouts can also be grown in pots and under glass to give them extra protection.
If you’ve a frost free-greenhouse or a cool conservatory, it’s also possible to grow a crop of potatoes in a container over the 12 weeks before the Christmas season, according to the Royal Horticultural Society.
There are lots of jobs still to come on on your vegetable plot. Midsummer is a good time to research and pre-order your autumn-planting shallots and onions. Garlic is also popular for growing over winter, as like onions, it has a long growing season and won’t be ready to harvest until the following year.
The Asparagus that keeps on giving
Autumn is a great time to start an asparagus bed. These perennial plants need a permanent spot, and a good bit of preparation will keep you in with these seasonal treats for up to thirty years. They need a good amount of space, and an occasional check on soil quality, but are otherwise very low maintenance.