Grow your own world!

This month in the garden - 2021

July in the Garden

July is an abundant month with almost daily harvesting required of courgettes, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and basil. Harvesting them regularly will ensure a long cropping season. However, the plant's objective is to complete its life cycle by producing seeds to ensure the next generation; so when seeds start to form, the plant will direct all its energy into seed production and will stop developing new flowers, so no more fruits will be formed.

Your job is to keep up with the harvesting. Picking the first beans when they are on the small side will encourage the plants to put out more flowers and so produce more beans. Basil is cultivated for its leaves. When it starts to flower, it will put all its energy into seed production and stop producing new leaves. Don´t let it flower! Pinch out the flowering tops to give you bushy plants and a lot more leaves. Please don´t make the mistake of waiting for your courgettes to get a bit bigger: pick them small and the plant will put out loads more. If your courgettes are cropping poorly, make sure the female flowers are being fertilised. Courgettes have separate male and female flowers on the same plant and rely on bees to carry the pollen from the male to the female flowers. Plant plenty of bee-attracting flowers close to your courgettes to encourage them. The male flower is attached to a long thin stem and the female flower has an ovary - an immature fruit behind it. If the pollen does not reach the flower, the ovary will wither and drop off. If this happens you can help the plants along by hand pollinating. Courgette flowers open in the morning and close again in the afternoon, so in the morning, identify an open male and female flower on the same plant, or on more than one plant of the same variety. Break the male flower off at the the green stem and take off the petals. You will be left with a long pollen covered stamen. Gently poke this into any open female flower, mixing the male and female pollen. You will see the inside of the female flowers look quite different. More than one male flower can be used on more than one female flower. You can also do this with any reluctant pumpkins, melons and cucumbers.

All the reports in the media about extreme weather - late frost and drought, animal feed shortages, shipping disruptions and a shortage of steel to can tomatoes, point to looming chaos in the food supply chain. Add to that the economic uncertainty many of us face due to the continuing corona virus circus, we would be wise to preserve our excess crops. Garlic and pumpkins are easy – lay them out to dry then store them in a cool, dry place away from mice and rats. While most summer crops don´t keep- tomatoes will start to rot soon after they have been harvested, they can be sun-dried or bottled or made into sauces. Cucumbers can be pickled, courgettes can be sliced and dried, beans can be bottled, basil can be dried or made into pesto and most vegetables can be mixed up and made into chutney. The choices are endless. With a little forethought and planning, we can eat well all year, regardless of what the world throws at us. Pay attention to the resources you have and use these as best you can. And don´t forget to save some seeds – they are our future. To learn more about growing your own seeds, get in touch with and come along to one of our monthly seed saving workshops.


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