Kitchen Tips

What to plant and harvest in the garden this summer

Clear skies, long days and warm weather - summer was made for the green thumbed. We take a look at what seasonal treats you should plant and harvest this season

What to harvest now

You will know your garlic is ready when the tops turn yellow and begin to wither. Harvest by gently digging up with a garden fork – the bulb should be bulging with a tight skin. Carefully brush off the soil and hang up to dry in an airy, shady spot for a couple of weeks.
The garage or garden shed are ideal for this. The bulbs will be cured when the wrappers are dry and papery and the cloves can be cracked apart easily. Store in a cool, dry place until needed.

What to plant now

Dill
Easy to grow and perfect to add to summery dishes like salad and fish, dill is best sown at this time of year when there is no risk of frost. Choose a warm spot out of the wind, but with some protection from the sun. Plants usually flower within six weeks of seedlings coming through; simply pick the tips off the stems and get cooking.
Leeks
It might seem early to be thinking about winter vegetables, but if you want nice, fat leeks for your warming soups later in the year, now is the time to plant out the seedlings. Leeks like soil rich in organic matter, so use well-aged manure, and position in full sun. Water regularly until they are well established. You can harvest from around mid-autumn.
Radishes
Given they're easy to grow and can be eaten within a month of planting, radishes are ideal for getting children interested in gardening. Sow seeds 5cm apart and no more than 1cm deep, and keep the soil moist. They should sprout in seven days; as little as three weeks later you'll see pink bulb tops, which means they're ready for harvesting.

The buzz on bees

Don't underestimate the importance of bees; they are responsible for at least a third of the food we eat. Many of your garden plants depend on them for pollination, and will be more lush and abundant with their help. Attract honey bees to your backyard by:
● Planting bee-attracting herbs. Try borage, lavender, sage, thyme, mint and lemon balm.
● Choosing vegetable crops popular with bees. Plant carrots, onions, tomatoes and beans.
● Using compost rather than synthetic fertilisers.

Water smart

At this time of year your garden will need plenty of H2O to keep it thriving. The best time to water is either early morning or early evening; if you do it during the heat of the day the water will instantly cool the roots down, reducing their capacity to absorb.
If your garden is exposed, you might want to take steps to protect your plants from the wind, as hot, dry gusts can cause rapid dehydration and lead to heat stress. Watch out for weeds, as they will compete with your crops for water. At this time of year, drought can lead to water restrictions, so get clever with how you use it – keep the water you boiled vegetables or pasta in, and try catching the cold water you normally let run while waiting for the shower to warm up.
Feature photography by : Derek Swalwell/bauersyndication.com.au.
Additional photography by : Getty Images, Thinkstock Images and One Shot.
This article first appeared in Food magazine.
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