July in the Northern Hemisphere is the month to begin enjoying the fruits of your labor in the vegetable garden. Warm-weather crops will begin ripening this month. Getting crops in at the peak of ripeness is important if you want to enjoy the most tasty and most tender harvest.
Look back at your planting records–when you planted each crop and the days to maturity for each variety. Gauge your harvest plans accordingly; cool or rainy weather during the growing time may put crops back by a week or two, but generally plan to get your each crop out of the garden on the day it is scheduled to reach maturity.
In cool- to warm-summer regions, July is the month to begin sowing and planting cool-weather crops for fall and winter harvest. If there is not time to get a second or third warm-weather crop to harvest before the fall cool down, turn now to starting cool-weather crops.
In warm- to hot-summer regions and in mild-winter regions, there is plenty of growing season left for planting warm-weather crops. Succession plantings of cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes can go into the garden this month.
Look ahead to the first average frost date to decide which variety of a crop still has time to reach harvest. For example, early to harvest tomatoes may bookend your tomato succession planting if there are still 60 to 80 days before the first average frost. Here are growing tips for the cool-to-warm and warm-to-hot growing regions:
Cool- to Warm-Summer Northern Regions:
Cool- to warm-summer regions have day-time average temperatures of 70 degrees F/ 21 degrees C.
Harvest. First or second crops of beans, cabbages, zucchini, and early tomatoes should be ready soon. Pick beans, broad beans, spinach and summer cabbages. Lift early potatoes and first main crop potatoes. Lift onions, shallots, garlic, carrots, turnips, and beets.
Planting. The remaining seedlings started in late spring and early summer should be planted out now. Additional sowing of succession crops–lettuces, radishes, beans, and spinach–should be made.
Leeks. Complete leek transplanting as soon as possible. Leeks require 80 days from transplant, 140 days from seed. Thin to 3 inches apart. Plant in trenches 4 to 6 inches deep; as plants grow, hill soil against the stems. Try the variety ‘Large American Flag.’
Rhubarb. Sow or transplant rhubarb divisions by the middle of the month for harvest next year. Space rhubarb 36 inches (90 cm) apart. Rhubarb needs regular water through the summer. In the fall, mulch plants leaving crowns exposed so that frost will trigger new growth next spring.
Turnips. Sow hardy turnips such as ‘Golden Ball.’ Turnips are best started in warm soil for harvest in cool weather, 60 days later–make sure your timing is on spot. Sow in drills ½ inch deep and 12 inches apart.
Broccoli. Complete the sowing of sprouting and spring broccoli by the middle of the month. (Broccoli seedlings do not like being transplanted in warm weather. The large green cauliflower-like broccoli is also called Calabrese. Sprouting broccoli has a different look; it grows many small florets instead of a single head–look for purple or white varieties. Seeds of both can be planted through early summer for fall and winter harvest.
Brussels sprouts. Complete setting out transplants of Brussels sprouts. Sprouts are best grown for fall and winter harvest. In cold-winter regions, pinch out the growing tip in early fall to complete harvest before freezing weather. Try the varieties ‘Jade Cross Hybrid’ (95 days) and ‘Long Island Improved’ (90 days).
Cabbage. Sow cabbage in summer for fall and winter harvest. Sow in late summer for spring harvest–next year. It’s best to sow cabbage in trays or pots and then transplant into the garden once plants have developed four sets of leaves. Keep seedlings evenly watered in dry weather. For fall and winter harvest, try the variety ‘January King’ or ‘Danish Ballhead.’ Winter cabbages are frost-hardy and slow to bolt.
Cabbage family. Cabbage family plants can be sown or set out in shallow trenches during warm and hot months. This will ensure that they get the benefit from watering.
Tomato. Pinch out the side shoots which grow from the axils of vining or indeterminate tomato plants. “Pinching” refers to removing the growing tip–usually about a half inch of growth. This will make for less unwieldy plants. Pinch regularly through the growing season. Do not pinch out the side shoots on bush varieties. For bush tomatoes or tomatoes growing without cages place straw or peat on the ground beneath the plant to keep the fruits off the soil.
Peas. Peas are usually ready about three months after sowing. If the weather will be cooling about 70 or so days from now, sow round-seeded peas now. In mild-winter regions, peas can be sown until late fall.
Beets. Sow globe beets to mature in October. Beets are best eaten young when they are the sweetest and tastiest. Dig in rich well-aged compost or manure before sowing.
Watering. Water shallow-rooted crops regularly; do not let the soil dry out around seedlings and celery, kale, lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard.
Onions and shallots. When onion and shallot bulbs are ripe, the tops will begin to yellow and fall over. After three-quarters of the crop has fallen over, break the tops still standing with a rake. Lift the bulbs with a garden fork and spread the bulbs until the tops are crisp in two to four days. Store onions in a mesh bag in a cool location. Store shallots in a cardboard box or paper bag in a dry cool place.
Radishes. Sow large winter-maturing radishes. Cover seeds in inch deep drills 12 inches apart; thin seedlings to 6 inches apart. Varieties to try include: ‘White Chinese,’ and ‘Long Black Spanish.” These radishes have a strong flavor and can be looked like turnips, sliced and fried, or used raw in salads.
Herbs. Make further sowings of chervil, dill, and parsley in open ground. Visit the Herb Category for herb growing tips.
Very Warm to Hot Summer Southern Regions:
Very warm to hot summer regions have day-time average temperatures of greater than 70 degrees F/ 21 degrees C.
Planting. In very warm to hot summer regions–in the South, Southwest, and Southern California–continue sowing and planting this month filling in vegetable rows with summer crops.
Starts. Set out cucumber, eggplant, melons, okra, pepper, pumpkins, squash, and tomato plants.
Seeds. Sow snap beans and corn.
Herbs. Plant basil, chervil, chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme. Start dill and cilantro from seed. Take cuttings if you want to propagate herbs.
Strawberries. Let strawberry runners grow root in the ground. Allow plants to flower and set fruit. Keep the soil evenly moist, particularly in hot, dry weather. Strawberries do best in a well drained bed.
Feeding. Side dress vegetable rows or individual plants with aged compost and additional fertilizer as needed. Water plants every two weeks with compost or manure tea. Feed avocado and citrus trees if not done last month
Watering. Continue to water vegetables regularly; don’t let the soil beneath tomatoes or cucumber dry out. A deep watering to deepening roots is best.
Weeds. Keep an eye on weed growth this time of year. Vegetables do not tolerate competition from weeds. Control weeds by light cultivating, mulching, and hand pulling.
Pests and diseases. Inspect plants on a regular basis for pests and diseases. Handpick larger pests such as caterpillars and tomato hornworms. One of the best preventive measures is to keep the garden clean. Don’t let weeds get more than two weeks old. Clean up leaves and fruit that drop. Remove spent plants right away. Visit Pest and Disease Category for specifics on each crop.
Mulch. Spread mulch to cool the ground and conserve moisture.