To Do In The Northwest Edible Garden: July 2012

Beginning of July and everything is soggy with occasional gloombreaks. Typically, Pacific Northwest gardeners are feeling really cheated right about now, having made it through Juneuary and confronting a July that’s not yet delivering summer.

Try not to worry – this is all about expectations. Every year we expect summer to run from June to September, and every year we get upset that it doesn’t. In reality summer in the Maritime Northwest runs from mid-July to late-August. Everything sunny outside of that 6-week window is just total bonus.

I have a friend who claims summer in Seattle starts reliably on July 5th – you know, just so Independence Day celebrations take place under cloudy skies. He might have a point.

But hey, it could be worse. A lot worse. Now is an excellent time to swallow that gratitude pill that the worst of Pacific Northwest summer weather is some overcast skies. For information and options on how to donate or assist the victims of the Colorado wildfires, click here.

Plan & Purchase:

Garlic should be ordered now for planting in late September/early October.

Sow Indoors:

Much of the fall garden needs to be started asap to give you harvestable vegetables by the time fall rolls around and growth slows to a crawl. If you didn’t do it last month, get your long-season coles like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower started.

You can sow them directly if you have the space and the tenacity to battle slugs for your seedlings, but I sow them in cell-packs. Indoor sowing under lights will get things growing fast and even but sowing outside will result in hardier transplants. Your call.

By mid-July it just won’t be worth starting the hardy coles or root crops that make up the bulk of the edibles through the cold season. So if you are planning on a year-round garden, you really need to hustle.

  • Fall Cabbage
  • Overwintering Cabbage
  • Fall Broccoli
  • Sprouting Broccoli
  • Fall Cauliflower
  • Overwintering Cauliflower
  • Kales
  • Swiss Chard
  • Collards
  • Kohlrabi

Sow & Plant Outside

If you have a bare patch of earth anywhere in your garden right now, use it for your fall and overwintering root crops.

  • Fall Root Crops: Carrots, beets, radish, rutabaga (my favorite survival crop!), turnips and beets really need to go in as early in the month as to give a good sized harvest.
  • Green Onions: I’m always surprised how long green onions take.
  • Fall Salad Greens: Swiss chard, Frisee, escarole, radicchio, and arugula can be sown out mid-month. Lettuce and spinach will be better and longer lasting if protected from the hottest days or if sowing is delayed until the end of the month.
  • Long-maturing brassicas: Fall and overwintering broccoli, cabbages and cauliflower, plus kale, collards, kohlrahi and Chinese cabbage can all be sown out now if you aren’t starting these crops indoors.
  • Green beans: If you haven’t gotten your beans in, why not give an early July sowing a shot? I bet it will germinate quickly!
  • Fall peas: If you grow a fall crop of peas (I never have – does it work?) you should start them this month, or so the experts tell me.

Transplant Out

If you started your fall stuff inside in mid-June, it might be ready to go out by the end of this month. If your garden isn’t ready for the transplants yet, you can usually keep them going just fine in 4″ pots for another couple weeks. Try to have your leeks in their final spot by the end of July.

  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflowers
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Sprouting broccoli
  • Kale
  • Leeks


Everything is ready except the real heat lovers, it seems. Lots of variety makes for lots of salads and A-to-Z stir-fries!

  • Artichokes
  • Beans*
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Garlic*
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Salad greens
  • Tomatoes*
  • Zucchini

*end of month, with a bit of luck


  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Currants


There’s a lot to keep alive right now! It can feel overwhelming. True confessions: this is last year’s list. I have barely gotten to any of this this year. I have grand hopes that this month I shall catch up in the garden. Hope springs eternal.

  • Weed
  • Water, particularly seedlings that haven’t yet established a good root system.
  • Mulch. Mulch. Mulch.
  • Cure garlic
  • Pinch out climbing beans
  • Pinch out tomato shoots
  • Train cucumbers
  • Side dress heavy feeders
  • Net ripening fruit against birds
  • Hill up potatoes
  • Summer prune soft fruit and tree fruit
  • Prune summer raspberries
  • Tie in blackberries
  • Thin apples and pears
  • Prune espalier trees, stone fruits, and grape vines
  • Trap, snip, or apply Sluggo regularly if necessary for control of slugs and snails
  • Apply copper fungicide or homemade baking soda controls for fungal diseases if necessary
  • Handpick cabbage caterpillars or apply BT for cabbage moth control if necessary
  • Foliar feed with fish emulsion if necessary to give heavy-feeders a quick boost
  • Preserve, freeze and dry what you cannot eat fresh. Remember, eat fresh when possible!

How’s your garden growing?

All Photos:


  1. says

    I lost ALL my lovely brussels seedlings to the slugs this weekend. Stupid slugs. Trying again indoors. I am sooooooo angry! *huff*

    But I just picked raspberries for jam, so that’s nice. We may not have summer, but we get berries out the wazzoo!

  2. Tiff says

    So can there be a newbie version of this list, one that doesn’t make me want to scream out loud and run for the hills? Oh wait I live in the hills. How’s my garden growing? It’s doing better now that I’m not killing my baby broccoli! :)

  3. says

    Oh, I just relish these lists. I love having a local blogger who is super organized and able to present things in a cohesive fashion!!
    Thank you so much.
    I have flowers on my potatoes and tomatoes. Snow peas are going like gangbusters. Beans are climbing and flowering. My sweet peas, while stunted, are now showing their delicate little flowers. Borage is getting super huge. Onions are huge, as well. All squash is in infant stages.
    It feels like things are on hold, waiting, breath held, for a week of sun and warmth. Then it can unfurl and go nuts.
    I totally can’t wait.
    And am glad for overcast, rainy and cool. I’m feeling bad for the midwesterners and especially people in Colorado….:-(

  4. says

    I’ve been eating fresh tomato’s for over a month now with my bucket system. I do live in a hot dry place, but with my system I can grow inside if I have to. I do have a traditional garden going with peas, okra, tomato’s, peppers (green bells peppers, Jalapeno’s and ghost(!) peppers. ) cucumbers, watermelons, onions, etc. Here in Texas I’ve had to build a fence so the deer don’t eat what I’m growing. Growing is easy. Plant the seeds, water them, harvest.

  5. Arrianne says

    This is my favorite month! It’s not too hot yet, the kids are gorging themselves on berries and vegis in the garden . . . The lilies are just starting to bloom. Sure the corn and squashes look a little sad, but sometimes we have cabbage years. I’ve noticed some of my herbs and flowers are getting leggy trying to reach the sun that doesn’t come out!! They’ve flopped over on the grass looking exhausted and flowered anyway.

    I dreamed about radishes all night, I guess I need to plant radishes!

  6. STH says

    We’re over on the east (i.e., hot and dry) side of Washington state and are starting to get some tomatoes from our two container plants. The bell pepper I started early has a good-sized pepper on it and lots of flowers, though I think I need to spray it with soapy water. The pepper I started later looks good and healthy, though no flowers yet (and I think it was the plant that brought the bugs with it). I thought I had lost my window box of herbs to bugs–came this close to throwing the whole batch out!–but the soap spraying worked and now they look great. I’ve still got basil in the freezer from last year’s window box, but there should be some fresh basil when that runs out.

  7. says

    Flip we’ve got the same sodden mess over at this side of the pond. The rain has finally let up for the day but the best we can hope for in the forecast is ‘sunny spells’ rather than those lovely golden sunny days it looks like you’ll be getting!

  8. Skip says

    Yes fall peas! I “think” I usually plant a second round of peas early/mid August. They are ready end of Sept if we have an Indian summer. I’m a couple counties north of you. Don’t take notes much, I just scatter seeds around all summer and see what happens.

    Are you doing the nosy neighbor garden tour again?

  9. says

    Do you have a recommended brand of fish emulsion that you like? I’ve been wanting to give this a try and I’m not sure which kind is best. Thanks!

  10. Tanya Lopez says

    I’m working my way through your monthly lists, taking notes. As a beginner… wow, this is amazingly helpful for figuring out how to get started. I hope you appreciate just how much help you are providing to folks out here; it would take me SO much longer to figure things out, and the number of years I’d miss a critical window for something tasty…

    Anyway, thank you for the lists. And for the details–this morning I was checking out your apple and cherry tree combos because there are some ugly, overgrown somethings in the front yard (with great sun exposure) that could really stand to be yanked and chipped and replaced.

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