July Harvesting and Planting

What are we are picking, harvesting, and planting here in tropical Queensland in July. Every year we will update this post as our garden grows and matures, we have a post like it for every month. As we are in the southern hemisphere July is one of our cooler, drier months, mid-winter, but we’ve turned the corner, days are getting longer and the sun closer, and the plants know this. If you are in the northern hemisphere you may have to flip the seasons upside down a bit.

Thai Basil
The Thai basil has been growing well, harvesting, flowering, and setting seed throughout July. The bees like it, we’re growing more to attract more pollenators.
Tropical Herbs
Tropical Herbs

A lot of plants, notably citrus trees, herbs, leafy greens, and passion fruit are putting on new growth in July. They can sense spring is just around the corner. Now is a good time to make sure they have enough food. Some of the citrus is also coming into flower in July.

The grasshoppers are starting to make their presence felt in the green leafy veg. Keeping the grass cut really helps keep them down. and we’re hoping our chickens, guinea fowl and geese will also help with pests. The flat green shield bugs are loving my tomatoes. They get squished, and they stink.

What Food Crops Are We Harvesting in July

A quick look at what’s growing, producing and flowering here in July.

Cherry Tomatoes

We’re picking cherry tomatoes from early plantings. Later plantings are flowering and fruit forming. Some cherry plants are looking sick, others are flourishing. There are a lot of variables.

Large Tomatoes

We have a lot of roma tomatoes ready in July. We use them in cooking and there are enough that we never have to buy tomatoes during this season, fresh or tinned.

The fancy/heirloom variety tomatoes are much more picky and difficult to grow. We picked a few slicer tomatoes in June from a plant that had been neglected right through the wet season. We were away.

I took cuttings from that plant last month and those cuttings are looking good and just starting to flower now.

Tropical Herbs

We harvest kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, and curry leaf all year round. The moringa has been cut back hard so not much on there right now.

Garlic chives are fully grown and we’re harvesting often.

Mint and parsley look weak and aren’t putting on much growth Either they don’t like winter or the soil needs a boost. They’re in pots. Nothing really likes pots.

Vietnamese mint has died back after flowering and a mealybug attack but is still green in places. (2019). In 2020 I just transplanted it to an open border. It was taking up space in my main raised bed and we never eat it, so it had to go.

In mid July 2020 I planted the lemongrass under the jackfruit tree. It didn’t like growing in a pot and its brother didn’t grow at all under the wattle. Watching and waiting. I pulled it from the main bed earlier in the year as it was taking up too much space. A year later it really doesn’t love being under that tree. It needs to go in an open space with more sun and better nutrient access.

Thai Basil and lemon basil is doing well, flowering, self-seeding, and putting on plenty of healthy growth. Harvesting regularly. In 2020 we had a few plants die in July, not sure why. The life cycle of these plants seems to be year-round, I have new seedlings, young plants, and mature seeding plants constantly. We always have basil and use it a lot.

We grow celery leaf from store-bought celery bases rooted in water. We have two currently and they’re growing strongly.

Spring onion tops, likewise. Every time we eat spring onions we plant the bases, they grow well and are far more oniony than chives.

Mother of herbs is growing well in the main garden now. It didn’t like the side garden in part shade. It grows most prolifically in the wet but if you can keep it well watered it just keeps giving. We use it for sleepy-tea and in recipes that could use some oregano flavour.

We also planted sage as an experiment. Sage surprised us by surviving the wet season and in July it’s bust putting on new growth. Overall growing herbs in the tropics has been very successful and often surprising.

Tropical Fruit

Jack Fruit

In 2019, 30-40 jack fruit were on the tree in July, but not ripe yet. In 2020 the jack fruit are appearing slowly. There are 4 large fruit, almost full size, while more and more new fruit buds appear daily. We’ve never seen the jackfruit tree behave like this before and have no idea why.

July 2021, our jackfruit tree is covered, absolutely covered, in huge, almost-ripe fruit in July. With still more forming. I haven’t figured jackfruit trees out at all yet! The first ripe jackfruit fell from high in the tree at the very end of July. That signals time to start harvesting and preserving before the bats get them.

Lemons

Last year there was loads of flower on the lemon tree and fruit starting to form despite the lack of bees. In the next year we got the tree in the ground, finally. Nothing, and I mean, nothing, likes growing in pots. Nutrients and water just seem to run out too fast. Of course the wet season leaches out soil nutrients and these must be replaced.. But no flowers as yet.

In July 2021 the lemons are putting on new green growth. The Meyer lemon is in flower, the dwarf lemon isn’t yet, that one tends to flower in August/September. Look out for suckers and water shoots right now and take them off.

Bananas

Our bananas were ripe in July. We harvested them as the first ones changed colour. We didn’t use a banana bag and they finished ripening in the garage. We freeze bananas individually on trays before storing in bags in the freezer. They’re good for cakes, muffins, and smoothies. Once the fruit is ripe we cut that stem of the plant down to the ground. The new babies will take its place.

Grapefruit

Nothing much happening on the grapefruit tree. It looks healthy but no flowers yet. We picked the last of this year’s grapefruit, maybe 50 fruits total, in the first week of July in 2020. We’d been picking fruit since March, but they were fully ripe in June/ July. In 2021 we still have 20+ fruit ripe on the tree at the end of July. July is when this tree starts to put on new leafy growth. Watch out for suckers and water shoots on citrus and cut them out.

Lime

We bought a lime tree in 2020 and got it in the ground in early June. In July it is putting on new leaf growth, as most of the citrus is.

Pineapples

We were given a bunch of pineapple plants grown from tops. They were probably a month or two to a year old. We just planted them into pots and into the garden in various locations to see where they did best. They did best in good, well-watered soil, of course.

I read a lot about stimulating pineapples into fruit using banana peels and chemicals, they just fruited when they were ready. I didn’t need to do anything to promote flowering.

In our first year we had one pineapple, in our second year 3. Now in our 3rd year we have 3 pineapple plants forming fruit in July. They seem to form fruit either now, or during the wet season. These 3 should be ready by Christmas. It’s wonderful to watch our pineapple plant collection growing year on year as we eat the fruit, re-plant the tops. The original plant grows again too. Will they produce fruit? I’m watching and waiting.

Strawberries

Our one little strawberry plant is flourishing and has plenty of leaf, but no flowers yet.

In 2020 we didn’t grow strawberries.

Mango

The young mango tree is just coming into flower.

Papaya

June and July are months of abundant papayas from our mature plants These bisexual plants flower continuously, but they are very hard to set fruit even with hand pollinating. Fruit seems only to set on these in the wet season. We also have papaya plants grown from the seeds of the fruit of these two plants. Some of these are far more productive, setting fruit pretty much year-round.

The papaya fruit from these hybrid plants is smaller, rounder, and less sweet, but still good. You have to keep a close eye on papayas and harvest them before the birds think they look delicious. We have more papaya than we could possibly eat fresh at this time of year, so we make papaya jam. It’s really good!

Papayas (also called pawpaw sometimes) are very easy to grow here and provide useful shade.

Tropical Vegetables

Beans

We’ve harvested bush beans from seed plantings around 10 weeks ago. Later plantings of snake beans are starting to flower and beans are forming. In 2020 we planted dwarf red snake beans at the start of July, they’re growing strongly but are still too small to flower.

Sweet Potato

Lots of green leaves on my sweet potatoes grown from kitchen offcuts. Enough to harvest a few handfulls now and then.

Chillies, Peppers, Capsicums

In 2019 -our main Thai birdseye chilli plant died in June. These plants do seem to have a habit of doing this but are otherwise perennial. We saved some seeds and the new chilli plants are a cm or so high.

In 2020 – we have dozens of bird’s eye chilli plants all over the garden, producing hundreds of fruit year-round and each plant having green chillies, red chillies and flowers continuously

Yellow long thin capsicum are forming

In 2019 – Other chilli plants growing well but we have nothing to harvest right now.

In 2020 the long red chilli plant is looking sick. We’ve harvested fruit for months, but only one is left on the plant now and it looks like it could be the end of that plant’s life cycle. (Update – it survived, and is still producing and looking healthy on our farm in 2022, it moved house with us along with many of its relatives). We have dozens growing from seed from it’s fruits, which could be interesting, as they could have hybridised with the Thai chilies. But the seedlings are growing well. New seedings a few days old to two inch seedlings.

Ginger and Galangal

The ginger is growing up top, no idea what’s going on underground. Last month most of the plants in the ginger family had turned brown and withered. We harvested some. This month the leaves are starting to grow back.

Aubergines

In 2019 -Plenty of growth and flowers but no fruit forming. Presumed lack of bees to blame.

In 2020 – abundant white and long, thin aubergines.

New globe style purple aubergine plants are about three inches high and setting fruit.

Our original eggplant from last year isn’t looking well. It has one flower. It’s in a pot. Nothing likes pots in this climate unless you water and amend the soil religiously. The plants in the ground are doing great.

Kale

We planted kale from starts and from seed. We’re picking abundant baby kale leaves for salads.

Rocket

We always have rocket. Two short rows planted in June give us plenty to add to salad almost every day. Last year’s rocket is still alive, but looking a bit gnarley. It never went to seed. We find that so long as the rocket isn’t in direct sun, it lasts longer and doesn’t bolt so easily.

Snow Peas

We’re picking snow peas, they’re delicious. A winter only crop and our first time growing them. Next year we’ll plant a lot more. We planted them, I think, in early June.

Broccoli

We bought a few broccoli starts as a winter experiment. They’re growing well, but something has decimated my plants in the side garden. Maybe birds. Every leaf is stripped. The plants near the patio are going well. No sign of florets. As an update, no heads ever formed on these broccoli plants, but they survived years. We used the young leaves in salads and the plants formed a small clump of broccoli, ever enlarging.

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