July Gardening Newsletter

July Gardening Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,

Just in case we do get a dry summer (maybe a repeat from our pre-summer experiences in May) you might have to water your plants outdoors.  If you water your plants, give them a thorough soaking.  Watering little and often is a disaster as it brings the plant roots up instead of encouraging them to go down. In all the years that I have lived in Ireland I only had to water my outdoor vegetables on a couple of occasions.  Usually when plants have just germinated and following by dry weather and just after transplanting.  Hoeing in the evening will also help with water retention as it opens up the earth for the night-time dew to enter into the soil.  Hoeing in the morning does the opposite – it dries out the soil as it opens it up for the morning dew to leave the soil.  You sometimes see this early in the morning.

Keep your beds well hoed and weeded.  Thin out all direct sown vegetables to the recommended spacing even if you have to pull out ten seedlings while leaving just one. As soon as your early potatoes are harvested you may consider sowing a green manure crop into its place to stop nutrients from leaching out.  I think phacelia is the most suited crop for this time.   Buckwheat is also a good choice.


In July there is plenty to harvest from your garden and hopefully you are at home to enjoy the feast.  You will have broad beans, dwarf French beans, runner beans, cabbage, courgettes, kohlrabi, lettuce, scallions, peas, early potatoes, radish, spinach, chard and turnips.


I’m specially looking forward to my first harvest of tomatoes.  I was given some really exciting variety from a friend in Italy (eg Apricot Salex, Frangolina, Yellow Egg etc) as well as my mother’s own variety that  she has grown for the last 20 years.  She started off with an F1 Hybrid of which she couldn’t remember the name and saved seeds from it every year.  So it’s really a new variety and I named it “Iris” after her.  I hope it does as well here in Ireland as it does with her.


You can still sow lettuce, scallions, kohlrabi, turnip, radish, Chinese cabbage and Florence fennel.  It’s also a good time to start sowing all the oriental salads again as they are now less prone to bolting.

Pest watch

Aphids tend to be a problem in mid-summer especially in more sheltered gardens.  Watch out for ladybirds or hoverflies as they may already control them.  If aphids are a big problem they can be sprayed with pyrethrum or soft soap, but both sprays will also harm ladybirds.  Aphids can also be washed off plants with a strong jet of water.  Keep checking your brassicas for butterfly eggs or caterpillars.


Book Review:

Know and Grow Vegetables

This is great news – the most informative book on vegetable growing is being re-published as an e-book.  Even if it’s not an organic book – I probably learnt most of what I know from this one book.  Even now I sometimes refer to it again.  It’s in tatters though with all the pages being loose and having to be re-organised.  The book was edited by JK Bleasdale, PJ Salter and others.

This book brought some science into the vegetable growing world which was steeped in myths.

One example is the poor leek!  Generations of gardeners had routinely cut half of a leek’s roots and trimmed the leaves back by half before transplanting.  When tried out and analysed it was found that cutting the leaves back had no effect on the plant positively or negatively.  However, cutting back the leek roots seriously affected the establishment of the transplant.

The sad thing is that still so many gardeners are still doing it. The original book was written 35 years ago and is probably still more up to date compared to the many table-top books that repeat each other.


Joy Larkcom has also been influenced by this book and in one of her reviews for the book she found the following facts and the first one of them shocks me as I may have been perpetuating a myth as well and I’ll have to trial it next year.

–          “There is no evidence that organic manures cause carrot and parsnip roots to fork, in fact they probably improve growth.”

–          “Male flowers appear before female on courgettes because they respond differently to increasing day length”

–          “Dock roots won’t regenerate if you cut off the top four inches.”

If you get it, please ignore the sections on fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.

“It really is a goldmine for anyone seriously interested in understanding the fundamentals of vegetable growing and getting optimum results from their own plots” Joy Larkcom.


Talks and Videos

If you have a few minutes spare have a look at a couple of presentations:

The first one is about ‘SOIL – NOT DIRT’ by Elaine Ingham – a renowned soil scientist who explores the life in the soil


The second one I may have written about already but even so – well worth having a look.  It’s called “The Secret of El Dorado”.  The Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana discovered w Golden City on the Amazon River in 1541 with about 8 million people living in the area in a thriving community.  When later explorers tried to find the site they had no luck and Francisco was declared a liar for many centuries until some scientists only recently discovered “Terra Prata”.

I won’t give away any more.  This discovery has the potential for a more sustainable land use even 480 years later.

The link to the film is:




2nd and 3rd July:

Galway Garden Festival

Claregalway Castle



Saturday 23rd July:

Course in Springmount Garden Centre, near Gorey, Co. Wexford

Title: Organic Vegetable Production (see more below under NOTS courses)


Saturday 30th July:

Course in Croghan Organic Garden, near Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Title: Organic Vegetable Production (see more below under NOTS courses)


Friday 2nd September 2016

The Georgian Society

Ireland’s Historic Walled Gardens Study Day, Russborough House, Co. Wicklow

More information can be found at the Irish Georgian Society website soon.


A day of lectures on the history of walled gardens throughout the centuries and the origins of vegetables.


Sat & Sun 3rd and 4th September 2016

Ballymaloe Garden Festival

This is always a great event in a wonderful venue



Happy Gardening