July can often bring with it a big sigh of relief, as the bulk of the crops are in the ground (apart from successions through the summer and autumn of course). Now is the time that harvesting takes a little longer, along with weed control and flipping beds over from one crop to the next.
Our main technique for going from one crop to the next is to mow down the old crop and cover with black plastic for about 2 weeks. We then lift the plastic, rake the bed and plant straight into it. This works best if the bed is watered before putting the plastic on top of the mown down crop. If we do not have 2 weeks to spare we will mow the crop, then after a couple of days hoe it off, and rake the hoeings into the pathways and plant into the bed. Sometimes we also cultivate the beds before planting but we tend to try and avoid this so that there is minimum soil disturbance. The idea is to let the microbes do that work for us, but sometimes in the summer if the soil is particularly dry it is too hard to plant without lightly cultivating first.
Weed control in the garden usually just involves hoeing a crop about one week after planting it – just as the first weed seedlings are appearing, and then about 10 days after that first hoeing too. This is usually enough, and then the crop grows to cover the ground and shade out further weeds. Obviously things don’t always go to plan and we sometimes miss these hoeings, but it is great when we get it right as it saves so much time later on, as hand weeding a crop is incredibly slow compared to quickly running through with a hoe.
We will be celebrating the diversity of tomatoes this year, growing around 30 varieties. We will be holding an open day on Saturday 30th July (tickets must be bought in advance) involving garden tours, seed saving demonstrations, tastings, an early evening dinner, and possibly a few tomato themed games! The event is to celebrate the diversity of the garden as a whole, but really focusing in on tomatoes as they are so visually diverse and they demonstrate the loss of diversity that has occurred over the last few decades as seed companies have gradually offered fewer and fewer varieties of vegetables, focusing in on F1 hybrids in their catalogues and in doing so, reducing the genetic diversity in gardens and farms across the world. What we try and do is grow as many varieties as possible to create a more resilient growing system, and maintain and grow the genetic diversity of the crops in the garden so that they can be more robust and reliable in different conditions. Not only does this make sense as growers, but it also means that the crops are far more interesting to eat in terms of flavours and colours.
There will be more information about the Tomato Day on our website, with tickets available soon. Visit www.trillfarmgarden.co.uk
WHAT TO SOW THIS MONTH: chicory (first week of July), endive, summer purslane, winter purslane, mustards, rocket, land cress, chard, beetroot, lettuce, kohl rabi, chinese cabbage, broccoli, chard, perpetual spinach, fennel, broad beans (for tips in salads) & peashoots (at the end of the month), carrots, dill, coriander
WHAT TO PLANT THIS MONTH:
OUTSIDE: fennel, beetroot, lettuce, chard, kale, salad leaves—amaranth, orache, anise hyssop, buckshorn plantain, salad burnet, chervil, endive, chicory
INSIDE: summer purslane, late french beans, late cucumbers, basil
OTHER IMPORTANT TASKS THIS MONTH:
Try to clear beds where crop harvests are coming to the end such as broad beans, peas, spring onions, lettuce and shallots, so that you can put in newly sown crops straight away. We either flail mow old crops and cover with thick silage plastic for 2-3 weeks or remove the crops by cutting them off at ground level and then hoeing the bed before planting.