Top Crops for a Bountiful Summer in the UK

Posted by Rebecca Lucas on

Summer in the UK is a gardener's paradise. The warmer temperatures and extended daylight hours create ideal conditions for growing a wide variety of crops. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice, there are numerous fruits, vegetables, and herbs that thrive in the British summer. Here's a guide to some of the best plants to grow during this vibrant season.

1. Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a staple of summer gardens and can be grown in greenhouses or outdoors in a sunny spot. Varieties such as 'Gardener's Delight' and 'Alicante' are particularly popular in the UK. These plants require well-drained soil and consistent watering. Supporting the plants with stakes or cages will help them bear the weight of their fruit as they grow.

2. Courgettes
Courgettes are prolific producers and incredibly easy to grow. They thrive in rich, well-drained soil with plenty of compost. Plant them after the last frost, and you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of fruit throughout the summer. Harvest courgettes when they are young and tender for the best flavour.

3. Salad Greens
Lettuce, rocket, and spinach are excellent choices for summer salads. These greens grow quickly and can be harvested multiple times throughout the season. To ensure a continuous supply, sow seeds every few weeks. They prefer partial shade, which can help prevent them from bolting in the heat.

4. Strawberries
Nothing says British summer like homegrown strawberries. These sweet, juicy fruits are perfect for gardens and allotments. Choose everbearing varieties such as 'Albion' or 'Mara des Bois' for a prolonged harvest. Strawberries need a sunny location and well-drained soil. Mulching with straw can help retain moisture and keep the fruit clean.

5. Peas
Peas are another fantastic crop for the UK summer garden. They grow best in cooler temperatures, so early summer is the perfect time to plant them. Varieties like 'Kelvedon Wonder' and 'Hurst Green Shaft' are highly recommended. Peas prefer well-drained soil and full sun. Provide them with support as they grow, such as a trellis or pea sticks.

6. Beans
Both runner beans and French beans are excellent choices for summer. They require a sunny spot and well-drained soil enriched with compost. Runner beans, such as 'Scarlet Emperor', and French beans, like 'Blue Lake', are known for their prolific yields. They also add vertical interest to your garden as they climb their supports.

7. Herbs
Summer is the perfect time to grow a variety of herbs. Basil, thyme, rosemary, and mint all thrive in the warmer months. Herbs can be grown in pots or directly in the ground. They prefer a sunny location and well-drained soil. Regular harvesting encourages growth and keeps the plants bushy.

8. Carrots
Carrots are a versatile and rewarding crop to grow in the summer. They prefer loose, sandy soil and a sunny location. Varieties such as 'Nantes' and 'Chantenay' are well-suited to the UK climate. Thin the seedlings to prevent overcrowding, which helps the roots develop properly.

9. Radishes
Radishes are one of the fastest-growing crops, ready to harvest in just a few weeks. They thrive in the cooler temperatures of early summer. Plant them in well-drained soil and full sun for the best results. Radishes can be sown in succession to provide a continuous harvest throughout the season.

Tips for a Successful Summer Garden
Watering: Ensure your plants receive consistent watering, especially during dry spells. Early morning or late evening watering reduces evaporation.
Mulching: Mulch your garden to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and improve soil health.
Pest Control: Keep an eye out for common garden pests like aphids, slugs, and snails. Use organic methods or companion planting to deter them.
Feeding: Regularly feed your plants with a balanced fertiliser to encourage healthy growth and abundant yields.

With careful planning and maintenance, your summer garden in the UK can be a source of fresh, delicious produce. Happy gardening!