Are you wondering what to sow in July? It may surprise you to know that, by July, many gardeners may have stopped sowing for the season and will have turned their attention to harvesting crops sown earlier, in the spring. But if you want to grow and eat your own year round, there are plenty of vegetable crops to sow in July.
In July, your polytunnel will be full and things will be progressing quickly. There will still be plenty of enticing produce to pick, and you will be eating a variety of fresh, delicious home-grown food.
While outside, the UK summer can often be a bit of a disappointment, either too cold, wet and damp or too hot and dry, inside your polytunnel the crops can remain unfazed by the weather outdoors – as long as you continue to take care of the watering, weeding and ventilation.
The key this month is to make sure, in addition to harvesting and other summer gardening jobs, that you take the time to plan for the months to come – getting in quick crops before the first frosts arrive, and planning for winter growing to feed you over the winter, or in spring of the following year.
So, if you’re wondering what to sow in July, here are some of the crops that you might be summer sowing outdoors or in a polytunnel garden in the UK this month. You will find options to sow for a late summer or autumn harvest, and can plan ahead for yields in winter, and even through to the spring ‘hungry gap’ next year.
Beans (Dwarf French)
First of all, this is an option only for those growing undercover in England, or those in the far south of the UK. If frost free conditions can be offered for a sufficient length of time, you might sow dwarf French beans this month – it is your last chance to do so in order to obtain a harvest before colder months arrive.
Dwarf French beans don’t need staking, and can cope with dry conditions far better than many other crops. They are beneficial because they fix nitrogen in the soil. Since they love to be sown into a warm soil or growing medium, July can be a good time to sow your final succession of this crop.
Remember, however, that these plants require frost free conditions. You might be able to harvest one final yield of beans before the first frosts if you get in a sowing before the middle of the month.
But if you live further north, in a cooler area, it may be best to leave these for now, and instead plant overwintering broad beans (with protection) in September or October to fix nitrogen in your garden. Since you are unlikely to be able to get a worthwhile yield pf French beans before the end of the primary growing season.
Some varieties to try include:
- Purple Teepee
Beetroot are typically sown earlier for a full-sized main crop. But in July, you will likely still certainly have time to harvest baby beetroot before the coldest weather arrives, and may even be able to harvest larger roots to store for use in winter. And with a polytunnel or in another protected area, might even be able to grow beetroot on through the winter months.
Beetroot can cope with a range of conditions, but will do best in a fertile, well-drained soil, enriched with plenty of organic matter.
You can harvest beetroot when they reach around golf ball size, or leave them to mature to around the size of a cricket ball.
Some beetroot varieties to consider sowing in July include:
Brassica (Cabbage Family Plants)
Brassicas are among the most important food producing families for UK gardeners – many of our favourite common crops are within this cabbage family – not only cabbages but also kale, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, turnips, and Asian options like pak choi, tatsoi, mustard greens etc…
Fortunately, many of these vital crops are the perfect answer to what to sow in July!
Quick heading Calabrese broccoli can still be sown outdoors soon after mid summer for an autumn harvest. Another less well known option is Broccoli raab, or rapini, which produces slightly spicy sprouting broccoli shoots just 40 days after sowing. Turnip greens can also be ready around 4 weeks from sowing.
Kale sown outdoors in July can also be used for tender baby greens in fall, kept in place over the coldest months for a great source of winter greens for cooking.
Asian brassicas are a great crop for autumn (and winter too in a polytunnel). Quick cropping mustard greens, and a variety of Asian greens in the cabbage family can also be great to sow at this time of year.
As well as sowing Brassicas for the autumn and winter months, you can also sow a range of Brassicas, including sprouting broccoli, and spring cabbages, for yields in spring next year.
Carrots can also be sown up until July for baby carrots in autumn or a maincrop for winter use. This is the last month that you can sow carrots if you want to grow these late in the year and keep them in a protected growing area like a polytunnel over the winter months.
Carrots need a light and friable soil that is free-draining and relatively free from obstructions to root well. In heavier soils, short-rooted or globe types can be best.
Some varieties to consider include:
- Sweet Candle
Of course, you can consider a range of heritage options and grow carrots that are not only orange, but in a range of different hues. so you can enliven salads and many different cooked dishes over the months to come.
Lettuce (& Other Leafy Greens)
Lettuce is another great crop to answer what to sow in July. Of course, there are many different types and cultivars to choose from. Lettuce can be an easy crop to grow – you just have to make sure that it gets the right conditions and won’t bolt prematurely in hot weather.
You can still sow a quick crop of cut and come again lettuce, which can be ready to eat in as little as a month or so.
This month, and onwards, you can also consider sowing winter lettuces, that with some protection (such as that provided by a polytunnel) can be harvested even in the middle of winter.
Some good options for winter lettuce include:
- Winter Gem
- Winter Density
- Winter King
There are also plenty of other leafy green salad crops to sow this month, including Asian brassicas as mentioned above, also endives, perpetual spinach and chard, land cress, miner’s lettuce, rocket etc… chards and spinach and the like can be sown in July for a supply of fresh greens through autumn and potentially right through to next spring.
Onions (Spring Onions/ Bunching Onions)
Many people will sow bulb onions in autumn for overwintering. But there is also the option to start a little sooner in planning for the months to come, and to sow salad onions in the summer.
Onions grown primarily for their greens rather than their bulbs can be a great option for smaller spaces, and can give you a useful yield through winter and spring. Like other alliums, they can also aid in pest control and be useful as companion crops.
Peas (Final Succession Sowing)
Peas can be sown in Succession from early in the year right through to July, and if you make the right choices and plant the right varieties at the right times, you can enjoy eating fresh peas from your garden over far more of the year than you may have imagined.
Peas for overwintering will not be sown until the autumn, but you may still be able to squeeze in one last crop of fresh peas before the frosts. If frosts are rather early in your area, you might not have time to grow peas for shelling. But mangetout or sugar snap peas should provide yields before the end of the season.
Radishes are another quick crop that can provide you with something to harvest in less than a couple of months. Radishes are best sown in small batches for regular harvests and you can keep succession sowing this month.
In July and August, you can also consider starting to sow different radishes, which will survive through winter in a polytunnel or other protected garden. Black Spanish radishes, and Daikon radishes are two options to consider sowing this month or next for cool season growing.
Of course, these are just some common crops that you can sow this month, and there are several other options that you might consider.
But if you are just getting started with gardening – it is never too late to question what to sow in July. And if you already have a garden, you should keep sowing this month in order to make the most of all the space available to you throughout the year.
Keep on top of watering and ventilation, and care for your tender young plants correctly, and they should give you food over the months to come. You will be able to fill gaps in your garden and make sure you have productive, living plants in the soil over as much of the year as possible.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.