Lettuce is not just for the summer. This may sound a little crazy to most people but there are many varieties that are ready to be sown now and will give lovely, fresh, green salad leaves during the darkest of months and when many vegetables, especially something with a hint of summer, have long gone and are just a distant memory.
July Crops – Sowing and Eating!
There is still time to sow seeds for quick growing Summer crops, such as lettuce and radish, so use any spare gaps in the garden, such as beneath taller plants. Also, some greens need to be grown in succession through the season for a continual supply, so sow and transplant in preparation for later crops, such as dwarf beans and spinach beet. Whilst sunny July is a strange time to be thinking of the colder months, the gardener needs to be prepared so it is time to think about sowing and transplanting Winter and Spring crops, such as leeks and the brassica family of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower – they need to have a head start before the cold sets in!
If you do not have a garden, a sunny windowsill is still ideal for herbs in pots and “cut and come again” lettuces – place in a tray to water the roots rather than from above, especially if you are away for a few days. Many herbs sown earlier will be starting to flower, so you should start to harvest and conserve them for use later in the year. Chop parsley and mint leaves and freeze in ice cube trays with a dash of water. Other herbs can be frozen whole in bags such as thyme sprigs and basil leaves. Alternatively, make a herb flavoured vinegar or olive oil for the larder.
The great thing about July is the opportunity to start harvesting and eating the efforts we made earlier in the year! Pick as many peas and beans as you can, before they become tough – it is also necessary to pick the pods to encourage the plant to produce more – otherwise it thinks its reproductive work is over! Vegetables, such as courgettes, cucumbers and squash, also need picking at their optimal size, before becoming large and tough.