July and August are the gateway months for fall vegetables. Get out your leftover seeds and order more of those you don’t have enough of. Pull out that scraggly lettuce and gone-to-seed arugula to make room for a second crop of beets, carrots, collards, endive/escarole, Florence fennel, kale, kohlrabi, peas, rutabaga, scallions, Swiss chard, and other Oriental greens. Make sure you get them in the ground this month or next to ensure a bountiful harvest starting in September for some things and on through the fall and winter for others.
Fall sprouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, late varieties of cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy and radicchio can be started indoors for transplanting later. If you’re like me, you will have a hard time finding room for many of these, but it is well worth it when you can have fresh vegetables much of the winter (with a little protection from the coldest weather).
July is also the month when much of what you planted earlier begins (or continues) to give you a return. A trickle of tomatoes from early varieties such as Siletz, Oregon Spring and Fourth of July starts in early July, becoming a steady stream by the end of the month and, if you’re lucky, an avalanche in August. If you planted Longkeeper, you may still have ripe, fresh tomatoes in November.
I have not yet had a ripe tomato (in mid-June) due to the 2,000-foot elevation and cool weather, but I am checking my tomatoes daily nonetheless. They have blossoms. Can tomatoes be far behind?
The kohlrabi bulbs are now big, ripe and ready for salad with carrots and various greens (tomatoes and cucumbers soon?). I have never grown kohlrabi and having tasted the fresh, crisp flesh, I wonder: why not? They are delicious and now that I know, they will be in my garden plan next year. I have never had much luck with cabbage. Kohlrabi is a good substitute and could be made into coleslaw.
Baby Nantes carrots are a delight and so tender when steamed with a little herb butter. I’ve given up on “designer carrots” in various hues. I know other people like them, and I hope you grow them if you do, but give me a good Nantes carrot any day.
The tops of onions will fall over in July, indicating that the bulbs are fully developed. The first time I grew onions, I was unaware that this would happen. I was panicked. They looked so healthy a week ago! What happened to my onions? Never fear, it’s part of their lifecycle. Withhold water so the top will begin to dry out. After the top becomes limp, gently pull out the onion bulb. Onions may be cured by laying them on racks, cloth tarps or cardboard in a shady area. Be sure to keep the bulbs in the shade, but the tops can be in the sun to dry out. Good air circulation is a must or the onions may rot.
Onions whose necks have not dried sufficiently will not last long in storage, so make sure the necks are dry. When cured, cut off the bulb leaving about 2” of neck. Store in a single layer in well-ventilated boxes or net bags at 55° to 65° F. Walla Walla onions must be eaten within three months or they will spoil. Storage onions will last up to 10 months if properly stored. I have also frozen chopped onion for use in cooking.
If you are lucky enough to have raspberries, you probably know how to take care of them. After they bear fruit in June, cut those canes to the ground in July. When fall-bearing raspberries start to bloom, fertilize them well with a heavy nitrogen fertilizer (33-0-0). July is also the time to fertilize June-bearing strawberries with a balanced fertilizer (16-16-16).
We are about to enter the hot part of the summer and today the Talent Irrigation District shut off the ditch for 14 days. It’s a good thing I bought several 55-gallon trash cans and filled them with water.
They hold all the water my garden will have for two weeks. Sorry, roses. You are way down on my list of plants to water. Unfortunately, I have a couple of new trees this year which need regular water until they are established or they will likely die. Wish me luck. I am just hoping to keep everything alive this summer!
July garden guide
Here are a few of the many things to do in July:
Direct seed: Amaranth to Swiss chard bracket the plants in this category for July.
Sow for transplanting: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, park choi, radicchio.
Don’t forget to control pests and diseases
For more, check out the Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley