July In The Vegie Patch

yam harvest
Yams are at their best after a frost and store beautifully in cold soil

Even when its cold and frosty there’s plenty of food to be had from the garden. Here’s a quick round up of what we’re harvesting to inspire you to a four seasons vegie patch. Leafy greens abound – chard, spinach, parsley, kale, chickweed, cress, miners lettuce and rocket. Bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage ripen at steady intervals and we pick away at the stash of leeks, carrots, parsnips and yams that store so well in cold winter soils. Celery, beetroot, coriander, bok choy, gai lan and salads galore grow in the protection of the greenhouse.

Yip, I’d say July’s pretty bountiful. Worth a bit of late summer/ autumn legwork don’t you think!

July Jobs

Easy peasy compost - Kath Irvine styles
A pile of organic matter prepares the way for more Artichokes

Create new gardens. Make it easy on yourself with a no dig beginning – there is no better start than a big pile of organic matter.

Divide herbs and perennials and spread them far and wide throughout your garden to increase your biodiversity, your homemade mulch supply and bee fodder.

bee on echinacea

Sort your seed stocks and make sure you have plenty of greencrops, flowers, greenhouse crops, spring crops and all your favourites because next month we get back into seed sowing.

Plant horseradish, rhubarb, globe artichokes, garlic, shallots, onions, asparagus, kale, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Plant salads under cover.

Direct or tray sow peas, snow peas, broadbeans, spinach, kohlrabi

Direct sow mustard, lupin, parsnip, turnip, radish and poppies.


Renew your soil with a hearty greencrop. For best results make a mixture. If you only have one type of greencrop in your stash, don’t worry about it – just use it! When you order in your seeds later on, be sure to add a variety of greencrop seeds to the list. A mixture is the business.

Gather together seeds that’ll germinate in whatever the conditions are at your place right now. Snow and ice are the obvious exceptions. 1 or 2 nitrogen fixers: clover, lupin, broadbeans, peas or vetch. Add a tap root like diakon, borage or chicory to open and mine. Add a grass like oats to mop up the nitrogen and stabilise soil. Add a flower like phacelia if its miuld at your place through winter.

Mix it altogether and rather than pulling the brassicas and sowing the crop, leave the old plants in and scatter sow the greencrop at their feet. The old plants protect and nurture the new. When the greencrops big enough, cut the brassicas down, leaving those wonderful roots in the soil. This is oh so good for our soils my friends. Such strength comes from this simple strategy of leaving the roots in + keeping the soil covered with a living mulch.

Get out your forksta and aerate heavy soil. Winter soil looses it’s omph, translating to plants loosing their oomph. Air brings life, it does wonders. If your soil has gone to the soggy side – leave it well alone until it has dried out.

after pruning

Prune roses, berries and fruit trees for bigger better flowers and fruits next year.

Plant trees deciduous fruit trees and shelter trees because the world desperately needs more trees. If you don’t have room for trees then perhaps you could join a local tree planting group or donate to the wonderful Trees That Count programme.

Another Good July Read


  1. Lucy Trolove says

    Kath my message in the coffee buying space doesn’t make sense as I was hoping to put more than $5 in your account! Pay Pal got ahead of me! I am sorry!
    Lucy T

    • No worries Lucy – was a kind thought. And its given me the idea of options – a coffee, a glass of wine, a whole bottle!!!! Be great to share one in real life though next time I’m down 🙂

  2. Hi Kath,
    Which type of loppers do you get from saw makers,I have bought a few from other places and they just don’t cut the mustard!

    • I’ve had them so long I cant remember the name of them but they are blue and I call them super loppers – perhaps called this in real life – or perhaps I made it up. I agree though – they are by far and away the best. Check out levin sawmakers website – you’ll find them there. Happy pruning!

  3. Alana Cornforth says

    Hi Kath I’m looking at getting some EM but am a bit baffled by their list of products. What would you recommend for someone starting out with only 6 raised beds (1m x 2m)? And do you always mix it with molasses? Thanks!

    • I agree Alana! I’d love to rewrite their stuff and make it easier to navigate! Expanding it (adding molasses etc) makes it super cheap and if that kind of brewing up/setting up pumps etc floats your boat then do it – it reduces the cost by a heap, but even with the financial reward that doesn’t do it for me – I just want to buy it and use it right away, so I get the plain EM1 concentrate. I use it at 1ml per litre making it go a long way. If you are just trying it out probably best to get the 1litre bottle of EMgarden and see what you think. Such a great way to build biology quickly in a new garden. best Kath

  4. Hi Kath,
    I have bought your pruning book and it has helped me immensely but I have a Question. We have a new property with 47 fruit trees about 5 years old. The pear tree branches are all narrow crotches so a really tight tall tree with little openness. If I chopped off the narrow crotches there would be nothing left! What would you recommend?

    • Oh yes -pears are famous for this! Being an older tree how I’d approach it is to completely remove a few of the tallest branches doing your best to leave the tree in a balanced well spread shape. Head back remaining scaffolds by about a third, then remove a portion of narrow crotches to stimulate new growth from which you can start to rebuild your tree with next year – repeat the reducing and thinning out of height and narrow crotches and eventually in 3 or 4 or 5 years you’ll get a nice shaped tree. From then on you’ll be removing narrow crotches when the wood is pencil size – easy peasy aye! It is possible to take the tree off at the knees and begin again – I know people who do this but I cannot 🙂 Best Kath

  5. Hi Kath
    I’m planning my garden – also following Kay Baxter’s method. Just wondering – after heavy feeders is it ok to just have the lupin greencrop over winter and then back to heavy feeders? Or do I need a legume/roots in there too?
    Also, I’m sure I read on your blog somewhere that you separate brassica, allium and Solanaceae by at least 3 years. Do you mean tomatoes need to be separated from broccoli by three years for example? Or do you mean just tomatoes from something in the same family?
    One other thing – is there anything I should keep potatoes away from? Can you point me to a good guide on what not to plant near or successively to each other?
    Thanks and thanks for the great blocg- if I had the time I would read it for hours!

    • Just keep the families separate from each other ok Julie. Use my rotation as a guide to develop your own alright. Take into account your soil type and do your best to not tire it out. Your crops will show you how well you are doing – learn as you go is the very best way. 🙂

  6. Hi Kath, I have been looking for chickweed all the time I have been in NZ, firstly north of Auckland, now in Dannevirke and haven’t seen any to use as salading. This will sound crazy to those who are infested with it, but do you know where I can obtain seeds please or seedlings. I used to regularly get in trouble in UK for refusing to weed out chickweed from my allotment, but its ground covering capacity for such a small root is amazing..

    • oh yes – chickweed is the cats pajamas! but sadly I cannot help you with seed or seedlings – I doubt there will be any commercially available rather it’ll be about finding someone in your hood to snaffle a chunk of it from. nga mihi Kath

  7. Hi Kath,
    for an Asparagus bed: while the asparagus roots are resting below ready to grow up early summer, I wondered if worth growing something else on top to make use of that space? and if so, what in your option would work well? At the moment I just mulch the top of asparagus bed but feel that that space could be better used….

    • Hi Gina, Love your thinking but asparagus is the one crop best left alone. Its roots are super fibrous making it pretty unfriendly, not only that but when the spears start coming up they are easily knocked off. Instead pile up loads of seaweed and compost and mulch on top ready for a bumper season in spring 🙂