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Organic, no-dig, kitchen gardening in raised beds on Vancouver Island, Canada.

End of July Garden Chores and Winter Planting

End of July Garden Chores and Winter Planting


Over the past two weeks, I have cleaned up all the tomatoes so that the leaves are off the ground (less chance for fungal issues) and removed any spotty leaves, as well.

Clean up the bottom leaves, remove anything that is touching the ground or is spotted.

Clean up the bottom leaves, remove anything that is touching the ground or is spotted.

They look much better and are growing fast and furious, putting on tons of flowers and tomatoes. As I was late getting them into the ground, they are just now starting to ripen. I ate my first homegrown tomato just the other day!

If your tomatoes are suffering in this odd weather, even if you have great soil, give them a bit of a fertiliser boost to kickstart them. If they are stunted or yellow or not producing, a couple of shots of food should get them going for you. I like to use the Reindeer liquid seaweed or organic tomato food, but you can use anything you have on hand. I just read something from Monty Don saying that a flower food with a higher middle number is a nice boost for tomatoes and other veggies as it has that higher middle number for the flowering. So, give yours whatever you happen have on hand, whether all purpose, flower, or veggie food.


I am also going around and looking for empty pockets of soil to sow some seeds in, for my fall and winter garden. A few of the plants should have been sown earlier this month, so will be putting those in from starter plants instead.

Wondering what to sow right now? Here is a list of ideas…

  • Beets

  • Cabbage - Ballhead and Napa

  • Greens - mustards, arugula, cress, pak choi

  • Herbs like cilantro and dill

  • Kale

  • Kohlrabi

  • Lettuce

  • Peas

  • Radishes

  • Spinach

  • Spring Onions aka Scallions

  • Swiss Chard

  • Turnips

  • Winter Radishes - also called Watermelon Radishes, China Rose, Daikon

*Cilantro - for you cilantro lovers who are frustrated with this bolting herb, this is the time to pick up some seeds and sow a bit every couple of weeks. You can sow seeds (or plant starters) till end September for beautiful fresh cilantro that will keep on growing and producing. Cilantro fares much better when planted in the late summer than in spring, as it loves cool weather … will keep on going until a really hard frost or snow takes it out.

*Dill - my dill has all burnt out in the heat, with only the seed heads fresh and green. My volunteers come up early and so are completely done in right now, at pickling time! Argh! I have removed all the old ones, sown some fresh seed, and also have some new volunteers coming up. The best time to sow dill so that you have nice looking dill for pickling is in June. Sadly, I always forget : ( Need to put that in my calendar for next summer.


My south facing garden is yet too hot for many of the greens, so am waiting just a bit longer yet on those, will sow in early to mid August instead. If you have a cooler garden, go ahead and seed them now.

However, this is a fine time for me to toss in some kale seeds. If you already have some in the garden, wonderful, leave them in when you do your fall clean up, they handle the winter elements just fine. They do not grow new leaves in winter but they are sweet and wonderful tasting.. with no bugs!


I am sowing Dinosaur Kale (also called Toscana, Palm Tree, or Lacinato Kale), a fantastic winter hardy green for salads, sautéed, chips, or most anything. Stands up just fine to our winter rains, and even the snows… but sadly, the bunnies love it, too.


What to grow from Starter Plants?

Some fall and winter plants needed to be sown in early to mid July and so is too late now. However, you can pick these guys up from your local nurseries or farmer’s markets and plant from now through till end August, even early September. There is lots of time to plant these guys, just wanted to post this here now so that you do not waste your time sowing them … In this case, two to three weeks makes all the difference in how well they will grow and produce.

  • Broccoli

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Sprouting Broccoli


Please do not sow carrots at this time, it is much, much too late, they will simply not have enough time to size up enough before the days grow short and cool. Nor will they resume growing in spring as the days warm up and get longer, they instead become hairy as they grow roots and will flower and put on seeds.


What all is happening in the garden and what chores are at hand?

Water- It has been awfully hot and dry, the gardens are fairly gasping for water. Deep water your beds with your drip system or weeping hoses every 2 or 3 days. Root crops, like carrots and potatoes, can be watered every 5 to 7 days, but for your squash, tomatoes, cukes, etc.. you want to be watering every two or three days with a deep soak.


Your cucumbers are likely starting to come along like gangbusters right now, they can use with a soak more often to keep from becoming bitter tasting. I try to give them a splash every second day, but daily is fine, too, if you are able to do so.

I went along and watered all the borders of the raised beds yesterday. Took me forever, but the gardens are so grateful so it was worth every second. The border plantings, like the alyssum that you see in the picture above, rarely get a good deep soak so they truly soak it up when it happens. The sides go dry much faster than the rest of the bed does, bakes in the heat all summer long so I try to soak them down well a few times each summer.

Squash - the leaves on many of our cucumbers and squash are riddled with powdery mildew. The common advice is to only water in the morning and never to wet the foliage. That said, this year we all have mildew due to the elements, the weather, rather than any wrong doing on our parts.

What else can you do about it?

  • Well, you can try the milk spray (1/3 low fat milk to 2/3 water) and spray that on the foliage. This is usually fairly ineffective on hairy plants like squash though, but works great on smooth leaves like roses.

  • You can try the baking soda mix. 1 tbsp. baking soda, 1 tsp of dormant oil ( or veg oil), 1 tsp of Safer’s soap into 1 gallon of water.

  • The most effective recommendation seems to be with potassium bicarbonate (can be purchased at wine making shops). 3 tbsp. of p. b, and 3 tbsp. dormant oil (or veg oil), and 1/2 tsp of Safer’s soap or liquid soap into 1 gallon of water.


Flowers in pots, planters, baskets… or in the ground.

Pinch and deadhead - Time to pinch back anything in pots or planters that is lanky or not flowering, like petunias and other vining plants. Deadhead your zinnias, calendula, sweet peas, and such, to keep them blooming for many more weeks.

Prune - Cut back your overgrown and unhappy calendulas by half, also your pansies and violas, plus any other plants that have grown tall and are no longer flowering. They will look sad for about two weeks and then will flush out in a whole bunch of new growth and blooms. Roses, too. If you but back your roses hard, taking off about 1/3 of their growth, they will soon thank you with a whole bunch of fresh, new blooms.

Feed them! - If you have slow release fertiliser, toss a bit more on top of the soil in the pots and planters for a boost each time you water. Feed them with a water soluble fertiliser once a week or so, as per directions on the label. Alternately, you can also add a pinch of fert into the watering can each time you water. For plants in the garden, side dress with manure or compost, if needed.

Water daily - This is the time of year that pots and baskets need tons of water. Give them a really deep soak with water once a day, till they are literally dripping. In the garden, a good, deep soak once a week is needed. Mulch them up well to help retain moisture.



Keep at it! Keep pulling them and killing them off, stay on top of them or they will blow their seeds around so you will have a tonne of them when the fall rains come : (



It is time to clean up your garlic and put it into storage. Trim off the beard (the roots) and cut the stem back to an inch or two long. Rub off the dirty skins till you have a lovely looking skin, I find this easiest to do with my rubber palmed garden gloves.

Properly cured garlic will store for 8 or 9 months in a cool and dark pantry or basement.

Save large bulbs for planting in fall, if you have enough. If not, come see me in fall, I will have a lovely assortment of hardy, fantastic BC garlic again in September.

With small bulbs or any that were left in the ground too long and so have open skins… Use them up in your cooking or canning this summer and fall. I will be dehydrating mine and making them into an organic garlic powder that tastes so much better than anything you can possibly imagine. My son uses this stuff by the jarful… of course, he is not the one cleaning and drying the cloves, so is easy to liberally use such a great tasting item. I find that I use it more sparingly, as I know the work that went into it ; ) Hoping to put out a post very soon on an easier way to peel and dry the garlic. Will tag it here when I get it done.


That is it for this week… so much to do, so much yet to come, will be posting another post very soon.


Happy Gardening!

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