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Dublin: 18 °C Monday 24 June, 2019
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For all its technological wizardry, there is a terrifying blandness about modern food

The veggie patch is a place where, thankfully, the seasons still hold sway in all their riotous glory.

Michael Kelly Grower

A SUPERMARKET IS a place where there are no seasons. You can buy any vegetable you want at any time of the year. Want a butternut squash in May? Your local supermarket probably has one for sale, though it was most probably grown in Ghana and spent weeks in the back of a container lorry. For all its technological wizardry, there is a terrifying blandness about the modern food chain, with its continuous, year-round supply of mediocre, uniform produce.

The veggie patch on the other hand, is a place where, thankfully, the seasons still hold sway in all their riotous glory. Seasonality is not without its frustrations of course (it involves a lot of waiting for one thing – particularly this year), but at least it brings diversity and variety in its wake. Vegetables were never designed to be available all year round – the wax and wane of the seasons is part of their nature. And of course, nature knows best when it comes to deciding which foods we should eat at particular times of the year – the starchy root crops to warm the soul in winter, and the water-filled luscious fruit to quench and nourish us in the summer. Eating seasonally means eating nutritious, healthy food right when our bodies need it.

Summer is truly a time of plenty for GIYers – a time when we perhaps start to struggle to keep up with the output of the veggie patch. Though the work is hard, we can also take time to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Savour the taste of produce that is organic, local and seasonal. Celebrate its diversity. If you grew a crazy-shaped carrot or a metre-long courgette, congratulate yourself on having produced something utterly unique, which your supermarket wouldn’t even let inside the door!

Things to do this Month – July

To Do

Any ground that has finished cropping must be quickly cleared away to take more vegetables. Use your produce – eat it, freeze it, process it, exchange it, give it away. Continue to water and feed plants and practice good weed control. Earth up brassicas such as Brussels sprouts – these plants will grow tall and require a good deal of support. Net plants to keep butterflies and the cabbage moth away.

Cut down legume plants that have finished cropping – leave the roots in the soil as they fix nitrogen in the soil. Give pumpkins plenty of water and apply a high-potash liquid feed.

Sow

Continue successional sowings and use quick maturing varieties for autumn use – Swiss chard, lettuce, rocket, salad onions, radish, turnips, peas, French Beans (dwarf), carrots. Sow for winter use – spring cabbage, Hungry Gap kale, parsley, perpetual spinach, chicory and coriander. Plant strawberries now for a good crop next June. Propagate rosemary, sage and mint from cuttings now.

Harvest

July and August are peak months for produce – enjoy it! First crops of French and runner beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, courgette and aubergine, marrows, beetroot, globe artichokes. Continue to harvest new potatoes, calabrese, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, carrots, turnips, shallots, garlic, radish, spring onions, salad crops, strawberries, raspberries, tayberries, currents (black, red and white), gooseberries, loganberries, peas, broad beans. Ask yourself – do you really need to go to the supermarket?!

Tip of the week – minding sweetcorn plants

Nothing beats the “GIYjoy” of producing a sweetcorn cob from your own garden and of course nothing beats the taste either – the sugars in the cob start to turn to starch as soon the cob is picked so the saying goes that one should run from the veggie patch to the kitchen and get it in to the pot quickly!

Were a little bit off harvesting cobs yet, so for the moment we are focused on providing the plants with the best growing environment. Watering sweetcorn plants is important particularly while plants are getting established and then later when the kernels are swelling. Not so much watering required while plants growing – mulch around plants to maintain moisture (or it can be planted through mypex from the start). Keep area around the base of plants weed free and earth up which will keep them steady in high winds.

GIY’s vision is for a healthier, more connected and more sustainable world where people grow some of their own food. Each year we inspire and support over 65,000 people and 1,500 community food-growing groups and projects around Ireland, and run food-growing campaigns, events and publications. www.giyireland.com

Michael Kelly is a freelance journalist, author of ‘GROW COOK EAT’ and founder of GIY.

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About the author:

Michael Kelly  / Grower

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