July. The first loss of light – an hour a day by the month’s end. Time for high summer harvest and watering. Time for some urgency amid the satisfaction. Time to plan for winter.
Our autumn arrived in the post. Rosa chicories, red and white treviso, puntarelle, and more chervil and parsley to be sown in paper strips and also scattered. A last rush of rocket.
Time, too, for autumn and winter salads, hardy lettuces, the ‘oriental’ leaves: mizuna, mibuna, komatsuna, the Japanese and Indian mustards, the Chinese greens. They often come ready-mixed. I use Seeds of Italy for chicories, for their large assortment (look through some of the specialist labels on their site) and generosity. But I also buy from everywhere.
This is the month I am almost always found out. I think I’ve planned. I know autumn is coming. But I am so stoned on summer growing that every year I’m never as ready for autumn sowing as I want (or need) to be . Plot 29 is small, I tell myself. So I cram every corner, and make every inch work. Top up, just a little here or there.
But every week counts now. July is the month of making room, the urgent time of last chance.
It’s your last chance for autumn endive. The last time this year to sow beetroot. You are already late for sowing broccoli, so look for fast-growing varieties. And you’re near out of time, too, for late peas and beans if pods are to grow before the first frost.
So plan and clear space if you can. Sow the last late summer salads and rocket. Make room for radishes. It is not all anxiety (that’s most likely just me). It is also the month of bounty. For harvesting beans and courgettes, potatoes and leaves. To take time for appreciation…
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com