What's in season: July
Long days and lots of sun means British crops are yielding abundantly now and many lend themselves perfectly to cool, summery salads.
If you don't have a garden or allotment, you can still enjoy the best of the summer with greengrocers' shelves packed full of seasonal treats.
Vegetables to harvest or buy
- Courgettes and summer squash
- French beans
- Lettuce and other salad leaves
- New potatoes
- Peas and mangetout
- Runner beans
- Spring onions
Fruit to harvest or buy
This month we're talking about new potatoes
New potatoes appear on supermarket shelves from Jersey or further afield very early in the year, but most British new potatoes, especially those grown at home, only come into their own now. They will have been planted in March or April and do best when they receive plenty of rain during May and June while their tubers are swelling.
New potatoes are usually ready to harvest when they begin to flower, though it’s worth using a fork to gently investigate whether decent sized tubers have developed on one plant before lifting many. Unearthing a mass of perfectly-formed potatoes from the ground is one of life’s greatest pleasures and something children never fail to find astonishing.
New potatoes need to be really waxy for the best potato salads. Great waxy varieties include ‘Accent’, ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Charlotte’. For home gardeners, early varieties like these are well worth growing as they taste delicious when very fresh and can be harvested before potato blight starts to be a major problem in late summer.
Harvesting in the garden
Tomatoes will be ripening now
Remember to keep watering daily, especially if plants are in pots or growbags. Watering in the evening is ideal, leaving plants cool and moist through the night.
Greenhouse crops should be thriving
Keep doors and vents open in warm weather and damp down the floor on hot days by splashing it with water. You may even need to drape netting over the sunny side of the glass or paint on some shading paint.
When you finish harvesting your broad beans, chop down the plants but leave the roots in the ground, they will add nitrogen to the soil. You can sow salads in the space or plant out young leek or cabbage or kale seedlings.
Picking for freshness
Harvest peas, French beans and runner beans every couple of days to get the pods when they are the perfect size. Eat as soon as possible afterwards to capture all the sweetness and nutrients.
Beetroot and carrots can be lifted as soon as they look big enough. Lifting a few will make space for the others to fill out.
Shallots, onions and garlic are ready to harvest when their leaves go pale and begin to shrivel. Lift them in dry weather and leave them outside in a sunny place for a few days so that they dry out and will store better.