Double Your Harvests: Sow These 5 Crops in July

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Planting kale

Midsummer is the peak of the growing season, but we can be so busy weeding, watering and harvesting that we forget to start new plants. But smart gardeners know that sowing seed now will keep our gardens productive with a second – or even third! – round of crops.

Today we’ll be starting off vegetable garden favorites that’ll keep the harvests coming for months to come. We’ll be narrowing down the list to my prime selection of tried-and-trusted winners guaranteed to keep your garden cropping for longer, and I’ll be sharing everything you need to know to grow them all to perfection.


Kale is my favourite leafy green! Sowing kale in summer can be a savvy move as it will grow on into the cooling days of autumn, which it’ll much prefer, and will hit its stride when there are fewer pests about. And all varieties will stand well through winter too – if you can resist it for that long!

There’s not much space up for grabs in the beds right now, so I start my kale off in plug trays to get them underway while I’m waiting for ground to be freed up, probably after I’ve harvested my maincrop potatoes.

Kale will grow in the autumn and stand throughout winter, making this a great value leafy green

Sow a couple of seeds into each plug, then thin to leave just one strong seedling once they’re up. If there still isn’t room in the garden by the time they have filled their plugs, just pot them on into larger plugs or pots. That should buy you a few more weeks to get earlier harvests done and dusted.

Once there is space, plant your kale seedlings into the ground 16in (40cm) apart in both directions. Firm them in nicely, and give them a good deep watering to set them on their way. You should be able to start harvesting leaves during the autumn and then, after a lull in the depths of winter, enjoy some more pickings in spring before they rise to flower and must be grubbed out to the compost heap. Do leave them in the ground while they flower if you can though – they’re great food for any early pollinating insects that are flitting about.


With summer in full swing, now’s the last call for planting peas. Leave it too late and the pods may not form in time before the first frosts signal game over. For me, early in the month, it’s bush beans or a cheeky, just-in-the-nick-of-time sowing of peas.

Early in the season there’s always mice to contend with, which I swear are watching from the undergrowth, waiting to snaffle those seeds! But with the soil now nice and warm, germination’s quick and the seedlings are up before those pesky mice have even noticed.

Dwarf peas
Dwarf varieties of pea will be ready to harvest in next to no time

Peas offer premium pickings well worth devoting space to. For summer sowings, choose a fairly quick-growing, shorter variety, because these will be quicker to crop than climbing varieties, and should be ready to pick by early autumn.

Make rows about a foot (30cm) apart, and 2in (5cm) deep. Sow the seeds about 2in (5cm) apart too. Cover them over with soil, and give them a drink. Lovely stuff!

Dwarf varieties of pea only grow to about waist height, so they won’t need much support – some twiggy prunings from the garden, their ends pushed into the soil, should do the job. Your peas will need regular watering to keep them coming along, especially when the weather is hot, and you may need to cover the seedlings with netting if birds are showing an interest.

Endive's pretty leaves add a touch of glamor to any salad


There’s a long list of luscious leaves we can start to sow now, but let's try a really very handsome salad: endive. If you’re not familiar with endive, this versatile leaf contributes slightly bitter notes to the salad bowl – the perfect counterpoint to lettuce or spinach. There are two types: frisée or curly endive with its intricate, almost serrated laves, and then the flatter, fuller escarole types.

Endive, like so many salads, is fast growing, ready to pick within two months of sowing. Sow a scant pinch of seeds into a pot of sifted all-purpose potting mix, then cover them with a touch more mix until the seeds disappear from sight, and water them.

Once they’re up, transfer the seedlings into their own individual plugs or small pots, then grow them on until the roots have filled the container, at which point they can be planted out 9in (23cm) apart. Keep them well-watered in dry weather.

Carrot seedlings
Sow a final row or two of carrots now for sweet and tender roots in fall


Carrots are really fantastic, a must-grow root for sheer flavor and character! With summer marching on, the window for sowing these ravishing roots is starting to close. Choose a quick-growing variety for the last sowing of the season, for instance Adelaide, Amsterdam Forcing, Eskimo or Nantes.

There isn’t bags of time left, at least in my zone 8 climate, for carrots to grow big and fat before autumn descends, but I should still get a lovely bonus harvest of sweet, tender roots before growth stops, which I can pull and enjoy throughout the autumn.

Ben with container-grown carrots
Reuse old potting mix in containers to grow a bonus crop of carrots

Mark out rows about 10in (25cm) apart. If it’s quite dry, water into the drills first to make doubly sure there’s good moisture held around the seeds that you’re about to sow. Sow seeds as thinly as you can, about half an inch (1cm) from each other, then cover them over with soil.

Your carrots should be ready to enjoy from about two months’ time and then on well into autumn, and possibly even winter.

This is also a good time to sow carrots into containers. You can use any all-purpose potting mix to grow them in containers, and you can even get away with reusing old mix from something like container potatoes because carrots really don’t need rich soil. Sow thinly across the top of the potting mix, and cover with a sprinkling of more potting mix before watering them in.

Slug-eaten pak choi
Pak choi is a slug magnet, but by starting them off in pots or plugs you can minimize damage

Sowing Bok Choy – and Keeping Them Safe From Slugs

And now for something that’s a real delicacy in the kitchen. Pak choi is a real winner thanks to its crisp but delicately flavored leaves. I absolutely love it briefly fried with little more than a splash of oil, lots of minced garlic and perhaps a good splosh of soy sauce to finish it all off. Yum!

This awesome Asian green is one of a number that can be sown from the second half of summer, including komatsuna, tatsoi and, of course, Chinese cabbage.

Bok choy is one of those vegetables that slugs can’t get enough of, so if slugs are a problem where you garden it’s a good idea to start them off in plug trays or small pots to be on the safe side.

Bok choy
Red bok choy makes an exciting change to green varieties

Sow two seeds into each plug, and once again thin out the seedlings to leave just the strongest in each, should both germinate. The trick once they are up is to keep them well watered and, above all, cool – so that may mean growing them outside in the dappled shade, safe from egg-laying butterflies under netting if you can.

Summers where I garden are – usually at least – on the not-too-hot side. Bok choy and all of the other Asian greens really do not like it too warm, so if you do suffer from hot summers I’d suggest waiting til temperatures cool later in the summer or even early autumn before sowing.

Once the seedlings have filled their plugs, plant them about 8in (20cm) apart and, of course, protect them from slugs with regular slug hunts and beer traps.

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