With the cost of fresh food on the rise, there has never been a better time to start growing your own food. From sowing and seed trays to bountiful daily harvests, here’s everything you need to know about growing fruit and veg in July…
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (a rock without water and electricity), it won’t have escaped your notice that the cost of simply existing here in the UK has skyrocketed. According to UK Parliament, the cost of living has been rising across the nation since early 2021. As of May, the annual rate of inflation stood at the highest seen since 1982. From household bills to health and beauty and, of course, petrol, this has had a knock-on effect in virtually every area of consumer and household spending - not least, food and drink.
The Guardian reported that fresh food prices in particular leapt 4.5% in May, with factors like Brexit-related labour costs and the rising cost of fertiliser in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine contributing to the rise. The British Retail Consortium has said that, in many cases, retailers are pushing up the prices of food and drink to offset the discounts made in other areas like household and clothing.
The bottom line? Buying fresh food is now an expensive business - and things don’t look like they are going to be getting much better anytime soon. But with every cloud comes a silver lining…
If you’ve been toying with the idea of growing your own food, there has never been a better time than right now.
July is a bumper month for fruit and veg harvesting; if you’ve tended to your garden well over the past year, once June is out you’ll spend time every day outdoors, bringing in bountiful harvests, sowing next season’s crops and planting out greens.
If you’re wondering where to get started, here are some of the most rewarding - and delicious - jobs you can do outdoors this month…
If you’ve been growing veg with that delightfully bitter aftertaste: things like purple-sprouting broccoli, kale, spinach and sprouts, it’s time to get them out of the greenhouse and into thre ground. While it’s a good idea to leave a big gap between plants, you can actually squeeze fast-growing crops like lettuce between them to get more broc for your buck. Planting and caring for your crops with an organic biostimulant is one of the best things you can do to assure a fresh, crisp, large, stress-resistant and deliciously abundant crop of fruit and veg next season.
You can actually keep sowing carrots, half a row at a time, every month until September. Choose Nantes varieties and small, round-rooted Paris Market carrots - they grow well in containers and beds alike and grow incredibly quickly!
Because, if you’ve got fruit trees or berries on the go, you’re going to need the space. Strawbs are ripe for the picking right now: you can keep them clean by tucking straw under your plants and cover them with mesh/wire to stop wildlife from giving into temptation. Blackcurrants, redcurrants, raspberries - if you’ve got more than you can eat, make yourself some jams to gift later in the year (or have on your toast now!), and freeze everything else for autumn and winter. Desserts, breakfasts, chutneys - you never know when a freezer full of fruit will come in handy.
This logic can also be applied to herbs: pick and dry or chop and blend with oil and freeze in ice cube trays, for easy-breezy seasoning in the months ahead.
It’s payday for anyone who has been growing courgettes and runner beans. These plants are high-performers when it comes to the harvest, so we recommend picking as often as twice a week to pave the way for new growth. This also gives you the chance to catch your veg when it’s young, tender and delicious. Hot tip: choose sweet, self-pollinating runner beans like Moonlight. They cope well in the heat and are highly-productive.
Is there any joy in life that compares with freshly steamed and buttered new potatoes? We think not, which is just as well: if you’ve been growing tatties this year you may find you need to eat them more or less every day! Digging them up when they are at their absolute peak is key to getting that potato payoff - you won’t believe the difference in taste you get from homegrown potatoes when compared with shop-bought, and they are so filling you really feel that you are feeding yourself for free.
A weekly feed of Imperium Organics All Purpose Liquid Concentrate will help to grow deeper rooted potato plants with greater access to moisture on those hot dry days. It will also help potato plants to keep bulking during the hot dry weather.
A veg gardener’s work is never done. Even as you’re bringing vast quantities of fruit and veg into the kitchen, it’s time to get your seed trays out again to sow salads for your beds. Mizuna, pak choi, winters lettuces, chervil and claytonia are all ripe for sowing in July.
Stay tuned for month-by-month tips on growing your own food - and please share any photos of your bounties with us via DM on our Instagram channel @imperiumorganic.