Ready, steady, grow! Everything should be flourishing this month and you’ll be run off your welly boots keeping on top of it all…
Sow Florence fennel
This wonderfully aromatic veg can throw the odd tantrum on the plot but it’s worth the effort for its incredible flavour in the pot. Sow direct outside as root disturbance can make the plants set seed. Sow quite closely, 12cm apart and 1.5mm deep. Keep well watered and mulch around the bases. Harvest the bulbs while they’re still small, or if you want big, pearly white bulbs, pull the soil up and around them from mid-summer to autumn. This helps to blanch them. They can expand to as much as 10cm across. Here’s some fabulous recipes.
Take herb cuttings
You can never have enough herbs! Take cuttings of sage, rosemary and thyme with a sharp knife. Make a clean cut under the lowest leaf joint. A length about 12cm (6in) long is good. Take off the lower leaves and insert along the edges of your pot. You can dip into rooting hormone if you like, but it’s not necessary. Pop your pot inside a plastic bag. Wait until the cuttings have rooted (around eight weeks) before transplanting into individual pots.
TLC for greenhouse crops
Your greenhouse should be full of lovely leaves and ripening fruit right now, Make the most of indoor crops by pinching out tomatoes and cucumbers regularly. These are the leaves that form between the axis of the main stem and the branches. Support your chilli peppers with stakes, and tap the flowers of aubergines to encourage pollination.
Summer at the allotment is all about busting your gut – and your gluts! To avoid the latter, sow little and often rather than a whole packet in one go so you can harvest at regular intervals. I like to sow a row, and when they start to come up so another one. Spinach, lettuce, peas and radish are all good crops for succession sowing. Listen to my BBC Allotment Diary about salads.
Power up your pumpkins
It might seem early to be thinking about Halloween but if you giant specimens now is the time to give them some TLC. Take off any leaves that are shading the swelling fruit and turn them regularly. Be careful not to break the stem as you do so. Turning them like this helps them to colour evenly. Take off all but one or two fruits (if you can bear it!) so the plant puts its energy into growing scarily large pumpkins. Feed with a general-purpose fertiliser every two weeks.
Share your GYO story!
The National Allotment Association society is giving away cash prizes for gardeners sharing stories about their allotments. Find out more here about its National Allotment Week (10-16 August) competition here.
Love this? Check out my weekly Allotment Diary with BBC Northampton.