What to sow in the garden in July

Gardener cook, Jojo Tulloh says it's time to sow a few winter vegetables in preparation for the months to come. 

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The gardening clock starts to tick a little slower around midsummer. The sun on your back, the drone of bees through your herb patch, the way your basket is filled to overflowing with courgettes, beans, squash and potatoes – all conspire to a general contented sleepiness. But even while you swing in your hammock, try to keep a corner of your mind fixed on the future. Stamina is a vital quality for gardeners that is often overlooked: the steady sowing of seeds throughout the season will ensure you have a good supply of vegetables over the winter. On top of this, many plants, such as chicory or winter radish, would bolt if sown before the summer solstice. If you are too lazy to lift a seed catalogue, here are a few things to sow now:

 

 

Chard is the easiest winter vegetable, and one no plot should be without as it withstands the cold admirably. Sow in modules or direct, and then thin out. Grow Swiss chard ‘Fordhook Giant’ with its glossy crumpled leaves and large white stems. Or, if you’re looking to light up a potager, you may prefer the firework display that is ‘Rainbow Chard’ with its mix of pink, yellow and white stems.

Chicory is the one winter vegetable you should sow, if you don’t sow anything else. Start with the winter salad standby ‘Sugarloaf’ – sold as ‘Pan Di Zucchero’ by Franchi Seeds, which offers an amazing selection of different chicories. Red cultivars start off green but flush into bright reds as it turns cold. As well as the justly popular ‘Castelfranco’, both the hearting ‘Palla Rossa’ and ‘Di Treviso,’ with its dark-red spears, have become fixtures on my winter plot.

Spring cabbages can be sown throughout July and August, ready for harvest in spring. Sow in modules (easier to keep an eye on in hot weather) and transplant out in early to mid autumn. ‘Spring Hero’ is the only ballhead cultivar or try a pointed, dark-green ‘Duncan’ or ‘Durham Early’ with their large, solid heads, that can be cut as early spring greens.

Winter radish might sound like a salad vegetable, but it needs to be cooked before being eaten. Growing to the size of a tennis ball, the bulbous root is mild and can be eaten roasted, chopped into matchsticks for stir fries or added to stews. Think of it as the turnip’s oddball cousin. You can grow the ‘Black Spanish Round’, with a sooty skin that is white when peeled, or the ‘Green Luobo’, an heirloom cultivar from China that has bright-green flesh. Both are available from the Real Seed Catalogue.

Sow Oriental greens for a steady supply of winter salad. If you have space sow into the ground, but with their attractive-shaped, highly coloured leaves, Oriental greens also look good in pots. Favourites include komatsuna or mustard spinach. Try the vibrant ‘Comred’ with ruby-red oval leaves and green stems, or ‘Torasan’ with dark-green leaves and lighter stems, both from Chiltern Seeds.  

Mustard leaves of mizuna and mibuna and mustard greens, such as ‘Red Dragon’ with dark, purple-tinted leaves, ‘Red Giant’ with lime-green leaves or the fringed ‘Frizzy Lizzy'. 

 

Words Jojo Tulloh

This article was taken from a feature in the July issue of Gardens Illustrated (249). 

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