Intercropping is a great way of boosting the amount you get off your ground, especially in the valuable but limited ‘hot space’ of a polytunnel.
Examples outdoors are to sow lines of carrots or parsnips between lines of established crops such as cut and come again lettuce as they slowly rise to flower. Mid-July is the latest for new sowings of these two, but if we have a mild autumn they’ll grow to a good size.
For most other crops we favour transplanting ready-grown module or plug plants, either shortly before removing broad beans and summer cabbage, or the day we lift the crop. Squash plants went into deliberate slender gaps in our rows of early potatoes in May and are ready to take over the space, their main growth being in July and even more in August.
In the polytunnel and greenhouse you can sow winter salads in August, or transplant in September, right underneath tomatoes. Then in October, you can sow carrots in between these new salad plants, cutting the tomatoes at ground level when they are done. That way you will be picking tomatoes all summer, salads from autumn till spring and sizeable carrots from April, all from the same space.
After the cold spring, it is remarkable how most crops have made up for lost time with excellent growth and yield. There was an awful moment when slugs went rampant after a good rainfall on 1st June, but strong plants somehow escaped damage.
By keeping weeds at bay, partly by not digging, party by compost mulching and partly by hoeing, you should only have a few small weeds after rain which are easy to hoe out. When the cucumber walked into the cafe, the waitress said: “Sorry, we don’t serve food in here”.
What to sow in July
As early as possible transplant or sow French beans, bulb fennel, beetroot, carrots, chard and salads such as lettuce, radicchio, endive and orientals like pak choi for hearting. Also winter brassicas—late calabrese, winter cabbage, spring cauliflower, sprouts, kale, purple sprouting, swede and Pak Choi for hearting. Growing in seed trays or modules gains you an extra month of growing time. By the end of July, you can start sowing outdoor overwintering salads such as rocket and dill.
Dib winter leeks if not already done.