July 2022 plant raising, no dig interplant, weekly advice, making compost and different types

See mid month update in my newsletter here https://mailchi.mp/2132b158b2c2/sow-transplant-water-harvest?e=d992f1d9c9

The weather has been unusual. June for example was sunnier than normal, yet no warmer than normal, thanks to some exceptionally cool nights which really slowed down growth of summer plantings such as beans and cucumbers.

The dry theme of 2022 continued and watering will be a big feature of July for many of us. Give as much as you can, but not every day, say every 4 to 5 days, so that you lose less to evaporation.

Learn more on a day course here, we have a few places still on summer dates. Then Homeacres is open on 4th September.

Plant raising

Keep up with propagation. You can still sow chicories (asap for radicchio), lettuce, endives, spring onions, beetroot asap, carrots asap, then kohlrabi, and Florence fennel too. I’m giving an afternoon course here 13th July, about succession planting.

I am still trialling composts and am getting close to a strong mix which compares really well to other composts I’m purchasing. I shall share the recipe when I’m certain.

Transplant small

The next two galleries of photographs show the size of transplants we put in. Although they look vulnerable at that stage, they always amaze me with how quickly they establish and before you know it, you have really strong and sizeable plants.

Leeks are an exception. They need a longer growing season and we sow them during April, four seeds in each cell of a CD60. Then we pot them into 7 cm pots after 5 to 6 weeks so they are ready to follow potatoes etc at this time of year.

Harvests, weekly advice

You can subscribe to our weekly newsletter, with Anna’s contribution giving the perspective of somebody new to vegetable gardening. In fact to gardening altogether! We give advice on all aspects of what needs doing in that week.

For general no dig advice, I have spoken the book I wrote as part of the online course series.

Harvest timings

The beetroot have grown very large. Nonetheless they are still tender and this is a feature of healthy soil, as opposed to when synthetic fertilisers have been used, for example, resulting in roots going woody when very large.

Watch out for downy mildew on onions and pull them before it’s too established, if it happens.
I recommend that you harvest potatoes before the leaves all die, to reduce slug damage in potatoes left in the ground. See me doing this in the recent Small Garden video.

Intersow Interplant

No dig opens the door to many exciting possibilities, because there is no soil preparation needed for new plantings and there are few weeds. No new compost is needed.

You can pop seeds or plants in, where the first harvest is still growing, but will finish within about one month.

Garlic rust and compost making

Like many people in the west of England at least, we had terrible rust on the garlic and it’s all now harvested.

We compost the rusty leaves, along with everything else from the garden!

Wild and weeds

My trial of different costs and soil in sucks is proving interesting as you can see!

I am excited by the wormery, and these wildflowers are doing a great job of hiding the disappearing pond.

35 thoughts on “July 2022 plant raising, no dig interplant, weekly advice, making compost and different types

  1. I don’t seem to be able to water as infrequently as you. It only occurred to me the other day that I need to be mindful of the bushes and trees on the other side of my neighbours’ fence not just ours! In this weather I water the full garden every other day and certain crops every day. Looking forward to a full veggie plot for the winter. As ever thanks for the advice about July sowings.

    1. Hello Susan, so true, tree and hedge roots show their presence in dry weather! I hope your plants are growing despite the current drought.

  2. Hi Charles
    Like everyone who writes – a big thankyou for all your method tips and experience sharing.
    Alot of people use knowledge as power but your willing to share your years of hard work and make us all happy and productive using the nodig method – thankyou!
    I’d like to pick your brains.
    As a novice nodig gardener I have ended up with more green potatoes than I would like due to insufficient mulching. Can I use them as seed potatoes for next year? Or have I just got to learn from my mistake and compost the ‘ bad’ ones.
    Is there an Ideal size for a seed potato?

    Your my Hero

    Geoff Thomas

    1. Thankyou Geoff, happy to help.
      You can rub off any green shoots on them now, then store in a bag until December, then spread in a tray in light.
      Hopefully they will then make normal chits / sprouts. I’m only doubting a little bit because sometimes exposure to light during growing can trigger loss of dormancy, but it’s worth a try and you will know by March.

  3. Just spent an hour watering the garden, heaven knows how much it’s costing.
    Good strawberry crop before the drought. Strawberry ice cream, jam, crumbles, 2kg in the freezer for winter yoghurt and some for the neighbours.
    Being a vegetarian can you suggest a diet based on garden vegetables? We have broad, runner and french beans, cabbage, carrots, peas, tomatoes, lettuce, own garlic and shallots.

    1. Yes the water bills will be big! I can’t suggest a diet because everybody is so different. I would struggle to feed myself without buying supplementary fats.

  4. Hi Charles, In my third year now and having great success generally. However this year is strange. Some things do not germinate – purple sprouting – am stuck with small plants from a later sowing that haven’t really grown even though they’re planted in pots in the greenhouse. Parsley was much the same – same seed as last year. I live in Herefordshire and find your crops grow much faster than mine. It is quite extraordinary how much slower mine are. I have to plant a lot earlier than you. Carrots I’ve found do not germinate before June, that’s after three years of trying to get them earlier. I see you’ve sown parsnip at the beginning of June! No hope here. I just about them going if I plant them in early May at the latest. It really is surprising how different it is! I just hope we don’t have a warm autumn, like last year, when all my winter and spring brassicas hearted in the autumn! THANK YOU very much for your inspiration!

    1. Hi Clare
      Sorry to hear this, and something sounds wrong in your garden, or area. When you look around, how is growth on neighbouring trees and hedges? Are they all slow and late? Or is your garden totally shaded? Or boggy?
      It’s interesting about your spring brassicas hearting in the autumn last year because that suggests to me a soil problem, where they are under stress. It should not be to do with weather, which would just make them grow bigger in the autumn, and hearting is programmed mostly by light level

      1. Thank you Charles, however I’m totally flummoxed. The ground is totally open, surrounded by pasture fields, and was a horse paddock before we came here. It does slope slightly North-east, which I’ve wondered about. It’s all rather confusing. I’ve asked others about germinating carrots … and mixed, some have the same experience as me, others have difficulty. Generally my experiences seem to be shared by others. I’m beginning to settle with how it is here!
        You mention garlic – I noticed the rust and ignored it as it was early. But then noticed that they’d bent over and discovered white rot. So I immediately harvested the lot, and have a decent crop. However, does that mean that I have to avoid planting alliums in that area for the next 7 years?
        Thank you very much for all your advise!

        1. That sounds like mild white rot.
          Two years is usually enough of a gap with no dig.
          The “7 years” comes from soil being damaged every year by digging.

          1. Thank you! Phew!
            2 years is manageable.
            I’m now removing individual onions that have rot. Trying to catch them before they go entirely. Curious as this patch was potato’s last year, pastureland before that. had a big layer of muck the winter before and last. Where does it come from?

            Also… Mustard Caliente .. I’ve been advised that it addresses the wire worm after potatoes.. but needs to be dug in. But I don’t dig.
            Also been advised not to plant potatoes in the same patch for 5 years. But maybe that’s also reduced because of No-dig? Reduced to what?
            THANK YOU.

          2. Hi Clare,
            That is a mystery about where the white rot came from, I can’t remember if you planted sets because they can bring it in, but if the onions were from seed then I don’t know.

            Mustard is not difficult to get rid of by pulling or hoeing. We have to remember that much advice is based on false assumptions, in this case that it’s acceptable to dig soil.

            Likewise the common advice about vegetable rotation, which is based on a number of strategies which come from 18th-century farming, which are not relevant to healthy no dig soil, nor to modern intensive gardening. You have to learn to ignore most common advice, seriously! People just speak in ignorance.
            Check out this page which has details of my trials with no rotation. The potato harvest this year in ground which has grown potatoes already during the past seven years, was the best ever.

  5. Hi Charles, because of Pyralid contaminated compost I purchased last year I’m still having problems in 2 beds which I’ve now planted with wild flowers. have you ever trialled sheep daggings ( the wool from the rear end of sheep removed before sheering) either in a compost mix or, on a bed as a mulch? I’ve been given several bags which will be used as above in my own trial.

    As ever, your articles and research proves invaluable to us all, thanks.

    1. Hello Alan, that is a pity and how I hate that stuff!
      I am impressed with the potential of wool as a mulch, not too thick though. Daggings are even better because you have the manure as well so it could serve nicely as mulch, and even better in a compost heap.
      We put quite a bit of wool in heaps this time last year and it broke down pretty well, they were hot heaps.

  6. Water problems becoming severe in NW London: the pumps with access to the water table have almost run dry at the beginning of July. They usually go a bit short in early August.

    Now the weather forecast predicts 10 days of 30C, which may be enough to wipe out swede, celery, may make plantings of fennel, radicchio, endive etc extremely challenging come the end of July without rain. Who knows what will happen to the squash plants if we can’t water them for two weeks of 85F?

    You cannot feed yourself without water or rain during the summer….this is going to be the ultimate test of whether no-dig really conserves water or not, because like it or not, my ability to water in the next four weeks down at the allotment is going to be severely impaired.

    1. That sounds bad Rhys and as you say it’s quite a test for no dig. However not the ‘ultimate test’ because whatever system one has, there is only so much moisture available.
      I’m finding that black polythene is great for retaining moisture where the squash are growing, and we do not water. Plus it warms the soil so they make a lot of growth before it gets too hot, for example the crown prince already have squash the size of grapefruit. I wish you well.

  7. Hi Charles
    After a small trial last year we are in our first year of “No Dig” and getting some lovely veg. However we garden on quite heavy clay. When I came to planting potatoes this year onto a bed that had been covered with 1 year old horse manure i found that trying to plant to the depth needed was very difficult and hard work as I could not easily get through the clay beneath the mulch. In a similar vein I recently tried to plant leeks into a bed that had had a covering of several inches of bought in compost and I encountered the same problem with the hard clay beneath the top layer. Is it a case of the beds only being easier to work after several years of adding mulches. Your videos of slipping your trowel into lovely soft soil seem a long way off?

    1. Hi Sue
      I wonder if you are trying to plant too deeply. You say you’ve put several inches of well rotted manure/compost on top, and that is enough to slip your trowel into to plant potatoes. My potatoes are 2 to 3 inches below surface level at their highest point.
      Likewise leeks, I don’t make any special deep trench or hole for them. If you want a long stem of white leek, some digging is needed. I like a long stem of pale green!

  8. Great newsletter as always and all your produce looks fantastic!
    I am growing tall sugar snap peas and I wonder if you have any idea why some of the pods are very tough? I have watered them but not massively and they look very healthy and are about 5 feet tall at the moment.
    Any advice welcome. Mary

    1. Hi Mary,
      That sounds to me like insufficient water. They need an unbelievable amount because they are like an instant hedge, still growing and also producing lots of pods. I’m pretty sure they’ll improve when you water, today!
      The whole pea family are native to damp climates and are not enjoying the change to drier conditions, here at least.

      1. thanks Charles for the information. I will give them more water and hopefully it will improve the situation.
        With the climate as it is I try not to water too much but we are in the East Midlands and its extreemely dry at the moment.

  9. Hi Charles! I’m growing winter squash for the first time- they are fruiting now but the female flowers are dying and rotting, can I leave them on or will they make the fruit rot if I don’t pinch off?

    1. That is nothing to worry about. It’s a reaction of the plants to having insufficient heat, and/or not being large enough to support the first fruits. You should see some setting soon, and leave the rotting glowers or remove them, your call..

        1. It may be what Charles says, but if the females are not pollinated, the baby squash will just abort. I am having the same problem and put it down to lack of pollinating insects so I have taken to hand pollinating with good success.

  10. I love that you’ve planted letters and that you have CD60 trees!!!! (caption under your newly planted lettuce) – it’s good to know that not EVERYTHING you do is perfect – reminds me of the Guardian’s island of Sans Serif April fool many years ago.

    Typos aside, you are as inspiring as ever, Charles, and my tiny allotment plot is cropping prolifically at the moment thanks to No Dig – I’m having to give broad beans and rocket away, as there’s only so much two people can eat!

    1. Haha nice to hear Ruth.
      I did not have time to check my post for typos, it’s unbelievably hectic right now, and it was early on a Sunday morning!

  11. Happy summer to you and everyone at Homeacres. Here in western Canada we’ve had a cold slow start to the year too, delaying crops by several weeks. Ours is quite a bit wetter than yours though. We’ve had 7” of rain in two weeks. This is where the beauty of no dig really shows itself as the rain in the mounded beds just soaks right in rather than pooling and flooding. I’ve been showing pictures of my no dig beds to everyone complaining about the floods. I still remember watching your watering video several years ago showing the different absorption rates for dig and no dig. So glad to see the method holding true here too.

    We have only a 100 day season so not much intercropping is possible. I’ll be doing second lettuce sowings in a couple of weeks and twisting out the April lettuces slowly to give the interplanted beets room to thrive. I interplant beets with the lettuce to hide them from the sparrows who have stripped the beets out before.

    Soon it will be garlic scapes harvest time and then I might pop in some kale which doesn’t do well here in spring due to brassica moths. I didn’t start my beans in trays as they are usually fine in the garden but will think about it next year. I’ve planted twice now as with the cold weather the first sowing didn’t take at all. How many weeks ahead do you start beans before transplanting? Any other tips to maximize germination in modules?

    I did finally turn out my 2021 compost bin as I put in a new bed and wanted to add the compost to the soil. Here we have quite dense clay soil. I’m pleased to say that while it wasn’t as well rotted as it usually is it did have tons of fungal growth – you were right on this Charles. I even found a mushroom growing up from the heap. It was lovely on the bed and made planting there so much nicer as always. Thanks for the encouraging words in May that a shady heap can still work.

    I always love sharing my no dig successes to encourage others to abandon the tillers, garden forks, and back breaking work and just explore the no dig method. It’s truly life changing. As a 30 year gardener who is 5 years into no dig, it just keeps getting better and better.

    1. Hi Jodi

      This is a lovely read and thank you for sharing all that. Except I am so sorry to hear about your weather and I’m not happy with how the weather is being messed around, especially in Canada and Australia from what I read.
      7 inches in two weeks is not funny and I’m so pleased that you’re finding the good drainage a help. Definitely I would look at raising transplants to make your season less short! I get beans in the ground at two weeks old or maximum three weeks, depending on temperature.
      That is a lovely compost result!

  12. Hi

    I m so excited my composting bay has reached a high temp of 45degrees C. Following your guide lines. It didn’t stay at that temp for more than 2days and that was only the very middle. Will that kill seeds ? I spent about 3 months building the heap 2mx1.75mx1m high. I Turned it into a bay half that size but much deeper. How long does the temperature have to be in the active heat zone to kill seeds. I can now easily turn it again into the other half of the bay. Should I and how long after last turning. I ve failed to make hot compost for years!

    1. Hi Jean, it’s nice to hear your enthusiasm!
      Actually the main reason you are not getting significant heat is that it took three months to create it. I wonder if you can find a way to source more green material because that helps to build a core heat.
      Turning results in a temporary rise but not for very long. I don’t think you will see much more heat in that heap now, and would not re-turn it.
      Best of luck!

  13. Charles,

    You make it all look so easy. This gives me great hope.

    I live in Colorado, USA which is a high altitude, arid desert. It is only after my recent retirement from public safety that I have begun to take a real interest in my garden. Your techniques, knowledge and willingness to share has been invaluable.

    Thank you so much and keep up the great work.

    1. Nice to hear Michael and I wish you success there. Such a different environment to here! I’m happy you can use some of my methods.

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