July in the vegetable garden – Advice from Geoff Hodge and Miracle-Gro

vegetables

When July arrives in the vegetable garden this is the optimum time to be tending your crops. To ensure bumper crops, make sure the soil is kept evenly moist and doesn’t dry out. This can also lead to cracking in root crops, poor yields and bitter flavours. Pay particular attention to peas, runner beans, French Beans and all fruiting crops.

Most vegetables will benefit from, and produce better and bigger crops, when fed weekly with Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Concentrated Liquid Plant Food.

To ensure large crops and great flavour from all your tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and other fruiting vegetables, start feeding every fortnight once the first fruit has set with Tomorite or Tomorite Pour & Feed.

Keep earthing up potatoes to improve the yield and prevent the ones developing near the surface turning green. They will need watering if the weather is dry, as this will help to swell the developing tubers and so improve the yield. Feeding over the leaves weekly with a soluble form of Miracle-Gro Plant Food will ensure the stems are strong and healthy, providing nourishment right down to the roots and developing potatoes.

Topical tip

Watch out for greenfly, blackfly, whitefly and caterpillars on vegetables. If you see these pests, spray them with a suitable insecticide, such as BugClear Gun! for Fruit & Veg.

 Fruit

Later in the month, you can begin summer pruning of restricted forms of apples and pears, such as cordons, espaliers and pyramids. In northern regions, delay this until August.

Cherries and plums can be summer pruned after cropping.

Any branches of fan-shaped stone fruit growing out away from the wall should be removed entirely. Pinching out tender shoot tips, plus any sideshoots coming from the main stems, will prevent the trees from putting on too much leafy growth.

If you need replacement shoots for bare areas of an established tree, or if you are forming a new tree, then select and retain one or two strong shoots at the base of the bare area, to train into these areas. Selecting two suitable shoots means you have some insurance in case the first shoot becomes damaged.

For wall-trained sweet cherries, cut back shoots to remove about half of this year’s new growth, removing any overcrowded or unhealthy looking stems at the same time.

For wall-trained ‘Morello’ and acid cherries, prune out entirely any fruited shoots, removing all of this year’s new growth. But be careful not to remove any un-fruited new shoots, as these will produce fruit next year. Instead, tie them in so that they are easy to pick.

Thin apples after the June drop if the fruit is still overcrowded. Remove blemished and king (that is central) fruits from the clusters first.

Cut back sideshoots on gooseberries to four or five leaves, or just beyond the fruit clusters. This will speed ripening by increasing sun on the fruit, encourage fruit bud formation for next year, and control aphids on the new growth.

Red and white currants can be pruned in the same way.

When summer-fruiting raspberries have finished cropping, cut out the old fruiting canes to ground level. As new growth is produced tie it in to the supports.

Don’t prune autumn-flowering raspberries; this is done in late winter.

Continue to tie in and train new blackberry shoots. Keep new shoots separate from older, fruiting ones to make pruning later in the year easier.

In damp weather, look out for slug and snail damage to strawberries. When you see signs of this pest or its resulting damage, lightly sprinkle SlugClear Ultra pellets around the plants, keeping the pellets off the leaves.

After fruiting has finished, peg down strawberry runners so that you can have new plants for future crops. To make transplanting later easier, sink pots of Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Enriched Compost where the plantlets have formed and peg these down with wire staples or paper clips. Only use runners from healthy plants. If the leaves of your mother plant show signs of yellowing or rolling and crinkling of the leaves they are diseased and need to be dug up and destroyed.

Topical tip

Protect strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants and other fruit from birds by using suitable netting.

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