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Summer news, July growing tips, and the ‘Second Spring’ Sowing

It has been a while since we wrote a newsletter, we have been very busy! 

I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a strange old year weather wise which has had its effects on all of us folk who grow veg. The record-breaking February heat wave was followed by a cold dry patch and then a cold wet stint too. Finally, now we have passed mid-summer it is starting to actually feel like summer, but let’s not hold our breath!

We are settling into our new site now and most of our crops are looking great.  We have now started to harvest our first seed-crop of the year which is Cavolo Nero kale, and we are very excited about it. We have been busy building a large polytunnel for heat-loving crops, and some smaller isolation tunnels to stop some of our outdoor crops from cross-pollinating with our neighbours’. We have been really lucky to have found so many second hand materials to set up our site, including three polytunnels (only one up so far, more to come), and lots of other bits and pieces.
Kale seed drying in the polytunnel


I know summer has only just begun but now is the time to start thinking about winter. If you want to carry on eating delicious fresh veg in the colder months then now is the time to start thinking about it.  There are many crops that can be sown between now and winter, in fact, we at Vital Seeds refer to this second half of the summer as the ‘Second Spring’ as there’s so much stuff to get sown. Often winter crops can fit in the garden nicely after early crops have finished.

Seeds that can be sown during the next few months include: oriental salads, kale, rocket, winter lettuce, beetroot, fennel, claytonia ‘Winter purslane’, corn Salad / Lambs lettuce, turnips, spring onions, spring greens, kohlrabi, chard, chicories.

We have put together a limited amount of ‘Second Spring’ seed collections, which contain 10 varieties of veg to stock you up for this period. You can pick one up by clicking on the picture of Ronja below! As with our other collections, ‘Second Spring’ has a 10% bulk discount.

Gardening tips for July

Sowing: beetroot, carrot, lettuce, spinach, spring greens, dwarf French beans, oriental salads, kale, kohlrabi, fennel , radishes
Harvest: courgettes, peas, French beans, lettuce, beetroots, broad beans, radishes

Crop care
Tomatoes – remember to regularly ‘side-shoot’ tomatoes, this is the process of removing the shoots that grow in between the leaves and the stem of the plant. Removing the side-shoots means that you can keep a single vine per plant which is much easier to manage, and the plant can concentrate on putting their energy into making fruit. Its also good to remove the bottom leaves of the plants up to the first truss (bunch of fruit), this allows better air-flow around the base of the plants and helps sunlight to penetrate to the fruits to help ripen them.
Salad – Spring-sown lettuce will bolt soon, so it’s a good idea to keep sowing more. Also now that mid-summer has passed oriental leaves can be sown such as mizuna and purple frills (if sown in early summer they bolt quickly with the lengthening days).
Onions – keep them well watered at this time of year, to ensure good bulb formation
Peas, beans and courgettes – keep harvesting from these to encourage the plants to produce more, if the seeds are allowed to mature in the fruits then the plants can stop producing, as all they really want to do is make seeds! Of course you might want to save some of your own seed…
Seed saving – If you want to save some seed this year from annual crops (peas, beans, lettuce, tomatoes) now is a good time to think about it. For peas and French beans, you can choose a couple of your strongest and most productive plants and leave the pods on them to fully ripen. Lettuce will flower soon, sending up a large flower stalk covered in yellow flowers which will then set seed. Its best to not harvest too many leaves from plants you want to save seed from as it will weaken them. Tomato seed is a bit more complicated, and needs fermenting, we will discuss this in next months newsletter as not many people will have ripe tomatoes yet.
Weeding – At this time of year the weeds can quickly take over if you turn your back! Try to keep the ground weed-free, the best time to catch the weeds is when they have just germinated, then they can be hoed off quickly and easily. If left to get bigger removing them is much more work.  You can also use a mulch at this time of year to keep the weeds down, but it must be a few inches thick to be effective. If it’s put on too thin the weeds will grow through it and you can hoe through a mulch.
Watering – keep plants watered while the weather is hot. The best time to water is in the morning or evening so that water does not evaporate in the heat of the day. To encourage your plants to grow deep roots its better to water less often but for a longer amount of time.
Enjoy your garden! – Remember to enjoy your garden, this is a lovely time of year on the veg patch and although there might be loads of stuff on your list to do, make sure you take time to appreciate what you have already achieved.

Thanks and enjoy the sunshine 🙂

Fred and Ronja

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