This series covers what to do on your plot, month by month. It is not by any means a definitive list of what should be done to keep it weed free and get the biggest yield. It is definitely enough to get you started! There is always something to be done, but in Ireland, with our changeable climate, the weather is the dominant factor in everything we do.
July and August are two favourite months at the allotment, the greenery is really kicking in and starting to make the hard work seem worthwhile. Pumpkins are beginning to set fruit and at the same time a multitude of plants are providing an abundance of take-home produce
Tasks for July:
- Prune this year’s Pear/Plum tree growth to within 3 to 4 shoots.
- Continue to water container grown vegetables.
- Pinch off tomato side shoots.
- Harvest early potatoes.
- Net up late season strawberries.
- Propagate strawberry runners.
- Source seed potatoes for sowing in August for Christmas harvest.
- Feed flowering tomatoes.
- Harvest and dry out onions when foliage has turned yellow.
- Continue to hoe between rows of vegetables.
- Erect barriers to prevent carrot root fly damage.
- Watch out for aphid infestation on broad beans.
- Remove lower leaves on tomatoes when first fruit starts to ripen.
- Harvest raspberries when ripened.
- Plant out winter cabbages/cauliflowers and Kale for winter harvesting.
- And don’t forget to plant Brussels Sprouts if you’d like them for Christmas or early New Year.
Squash and Pumpkins
- Bury vines at the nodes, this helps to anchor them and to encourage additional root systems to give you bigger and more plentiful fruiting.
- Feed plants with nettle & comfrey liquid feed once per week (diluted into a watering can). Water at the base and rinse the plant base with plain water afterwards (to reduce any high NPK burn).
- Give a foliar feed (spray the leaves) with liquid seaweed in between two nettle & comfrey feeds. Don’t choose a hot day – you don’t want leaf scorch.
- Manually pollinate any female flowers each morning to guarantee the seed line. Cover flowers before and afterwards to keep out pollinators bring contaminating pollen (a paper bag and peg do the job).
- Stay on top of courgette harvesting, courgettes taste best at around 10-13 cm in length. The more your harvest the more you’ll receive.
- Again, feed plants with nettle & comfrey liquid feed once per week (diluted into a watering can).
- Keep tomatoes well-watered in the greenhouse, do not water the leaves, only the base (damp tomatoes are more susceptible to blight)
- If possible, stand potted tomatoes in a tray of water.
- Feed with a good feed once a week (helps to reduce blossom end rot and encourages fruit growth).
- Pinch out the top of tall plants if they have lots of flower trusses on, get the energy going into fruiting now.
- Did you know you can feed dahlias with comfrey and nettle tea too? Usually do it at the same time as the tomatoes.
- Autumn planted garlic should have been lifted in June and should be cured in a dark dry place by now, clean it up and hang it in the kitchen.
- Water once a week if it doesn’t rain and water well. Otherwise leave beans alone to do their thing.
- Mulch them with garden compost to decrease evaporation on hot days. The compost will also provide extra nutrients to keep them healthy and productive until the Autumn.
- Pick any early runner beans before the seed pods begin to bulge (or the skins toughen and get stringy).
Like courgettes, pick them regularly to keep the beans coming.
- Keep watered on dry soil and add more mulch. Give soil the occasional press with your foot around the roots to keep the soil firm. You have the option to bulk up soil around the stem base with some compost to protect any exposed roots from hot sun (and for feeding benefits).
- Lift some potato plants, if the results are positive start enjoying the fruits of your labour!
- Keep maincrop plants well-watered, dry conditions reduce yield and potato size. Potatoes may seem bullet-proof but they really benefit from consistent watering.
- Sow potatoes now for Christmas crops!
- Some of my onions are reaching a decent size, which means any time someone asks for one, now I can pull one up. However, onions are definitely ready to harvest when the leaf tops fall over.
- I water my onions sparingly (but daily in hot spells to reduce bolting).
- Keep well-watered and pollinate flowers by hand if cucumbers are in the greenhouse (just to guarantee yourself something to harvest, pollinators are not 100% reliable on cucumbers).
- If your shed is in need of a clear out, a sunny day is just the time to get to grips with it! Throw out those old broken plastic pots you lazily discarded while rushing back to your family, pick up the twine offcuts, tidy that tent peg away so you can find it when you need it.
- Why is there still an empty box of chicken manure pellets sitting in the corner and six plastic Evian bottles?
- Paint the shed – a hot day in July is the perfect day to break out the green Cuprinol.
Weeds and paths
- The weeds are back! Time to trim those attempting plot invasions from the perimeter before they go to seed and infect beds. A single dock can produce 60,000 seeds!
- Use a hoe in planting beds to keep seeds down taking care to avoid vulnerable crop roots (don’t get to close, use your hands for those).
- Reapply wood-chip to paths to help keep weeds from spreading and to keep the plot looking clean.
- I ripped out some ancient chicken wire fencing a couple of months ago because the weeds had taken it for themselves. I now need to replace it to dissuade would-be pumpkin thieves from ruining all the hard work.
- The summer is a good time to start building up a new manure pile, in six months’ time it will be Spring and you’ll be wanting lots of the lovely black stuff for your 2021 allotment endeavours.
- Fresh manure shouldn’t be put on the plot directly; it should be allowed time to rot down.