Growing a Greener Henley in July

June was a particularly good month to be a slug or a weed as both seemed to flourish in the rain.  For anyone trying to grow fruit and vegetables, it was a struggle.  If we’re looking for positives – at least we didn’t have to worry about watering.

For those of us who don’t have to rely on food growing to survive, July is the time of year when the joys of harvesting start to outweigh any problems we’ve had with growing.  As Andrew, an allotment plot holder known for his wisdom tells us,  “now is the time to reap the benefits of our hard work”.


If anything has coped reasonably well with the weather during the last few months, it’s been the strawberries.  Most people seem to have a good crop.  Some say they don’t have much flavour this year but I’m just delighted to be able to pick so many.

I grow mine in peat free compost in pots in the garden.  This year I’m picking them just before they’re ripe.  Eating them straight from the plant and warmed by the sun would be the ideal but this year that’s unlikely to happen.  The minute they are close to being ripe, either the birds get them during the day or the slugs eat them overnight

The blackcurrants on the allotment are almost ready but the pigeons are already eating them. I don’t like netting my fruit so I’ve covered them with a fine mesh sheet.  Years ago, a thrush got trapped in a net I was using to protect apricots. I managed to rescue it, but the setting free process was traumatic for the bird and for me.  Apparently, the answer is to pull the netting tight and to make sure there aren’t any gaps, but I’m not risking it again.


One of Andrew’s tips for us this month is to check our potatoes to see whether they are ready.  Andrew’s suggestions are to either dig up a plant or to scrape the soil away and have a look.  As I only have two short rows of plants, I’ll be doing a bit of furtive soil scraping to see what’s happening.

Apparently, Andrew’s carrots haven’t germinated well this year.  I sympathise.  The seeds I sowed at home in pots are fine but down on the allotment only two have germinated.  There’s still time to try again.  If that doesn’t work, there’s always next year!

Greener Henley member, Jean, who grows all her fruit and veg in her garden is still sowing lettuces and radishes to fill gaps in her veg patch.  She likes to plant everything closely to keep the weeds down. Jean’s advice for us this month is to keep tying in tomatoes as they grow and to remember to remove their side shoots – the small shoots that appear between the main stem and the horizontal branches. I’m following her advice and perhaps this  year my tomatoes will stay tied neatly to their stakes rather than collapsing under the weight of their own branches as soon as we get strong wind and rain.

What can we sow now

Beetroot, cabbages (spring), carrots, French beans, Kohl rabi, peas, chard, spinach beet, lettuce, radishes, spring onions.

Top tips from the allotment

  • Pick broad beans and peas before they get too old.
  • Keep checking for asparagus beetles and grubs.
  • Plant out purple sprouting broccoli and Savoy cabbage plants – protect from pigeons.
  • Keep hoeing when the weather is dry.
  • Stop picking rhubarb this month and let the plant rest until next year.

Food for thought and dates for the diary

The Great Big Green Week will be happening nationwide from 18th – 26th September and Henley will be taking part.  It’s a great opportunity for local businesses, community groups, shops, schools, colleges, churches, and our amazing food outlets to show how much we care about our town and our environment.  Keep an eye out for developments.  In the meantime, why not start thinking about the ways in which any group or organisation you are part of can join in?  For information contact