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July 6, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Gardening tips for July, by Apley’s Head Gardener

2014-05-29, AWG by Corinna (15)Gardening tips for July, by Apley’s Head Gardener, Phil Allen

July is usually one of the driest months (fingers crossed for some sun) so a lot of time may be spent watering. You can reduce water loss & save yourself some time by preventing water loss. A good method for this is to hoe. This not only kills the weeds but breaks up the top of the soil, stopping water from being drawn to the surface by capillary action & evaporating.

Your potatoes should be ready to harvest now so when you do, take care to remove all the tubers. Any left will not only sprout next year & become a weed, but will also be a reservoir for disease & potato blight spores. It’s often worth forking over a few days after harvesting potatoes because more seem to miraculously appear.


There are still quite a few things you can sow in July: Spring cabbage, chicory, Chinese cabbage, Kohl rabi, lettuce, peas, French beans, beetroot, carrots & radishes.

Planting Out

If they’ve not gone out yet, it’s time to plant out your leeks. Just dib a hole about 150mm / 6″ deep & drop the leek into the hole. Water it in & the job’s done. Don’t follow old advice about trimming the tops & roots as that has no beneficial effect & is probably harmful. You don’t need to fill the holes with soil as enough will wash in from watering them & rainfall. The reason you plant in a hole is to blanch the stem.


Keep your tomato sideshoots in check as you want tomatoes not masses of foliage. Also ensure they are watered regularly as drying out prevents the plant from taking up sufficient calcium & the deficit causes blossom end rot. Don’t forget to feed your tomatoes as well. We demand a lot from them & need to keep them well fed. It’s a good idea to give your maincrop potatoes a feed as well. A major cause of poor potato crops is poor nutrition. They are a very greedy plant & a boost now will pay a dividend in tubers. A feed balanced as for tomatoes is ideal. Homemade feed using comfrey is ideal.


Many fruits are ready to harvest or swelling. Swelling fruit requires a lot of water so ensure they have enough. July is a good month for summer pruning apple trees.

General Tasks

Keep on top of the pests. Aphids & blackfly are a particular problem. You can control them with pesticides or just wash them off many plants with a strong jet of water. A wash with soft soap will do no harm to the plants & will reduce numbers. Keep an eye on your brassicas for butterfly eggs and caterpillars – these will most probably be under the leaves. Pick or wash them off before they dine on your dinner.

Fruit of the month – Strawberry

As Wimbledon will be coming to its final & bringing a new champion during the beginning of this month, it’s all about the strawberry.

Although the best tasting strawberries are British, the first garden strawberry was grown in France during the late 18th century. Before this, wild strawberries & cultivated selections from wild strawberry species were the common source of the fruit.

It’s good to remember the more water & sun they have, regardless of variety, the better they taste. This is often the problem with imported strawberries as they are picked, packed & shipped before they reach maturity & this badly effects flavour.

Beware, because around 200 species of pests are known to attack strawberries both directly & indirectly, so make sure you’re vigilant & keep a close eye when watering !

PS. I love this photo of lettuces taken by Corinna, Lady Hamilton of Dalzell, my mother in law. It shows the fresh rain on the leaves, making it look so fresh, clean & natural.


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