the greenhouse in july

Sarah guides you round her greenhouse on a very hot day in July, sharing with you her favourite plant varieties to grow in the heat.

It's mid-July and I'm in the greenhouse and it is incredibly hot in here. The thermal screens are over but even so it's really hot. But there are plants that, of course, love that and the pepper family is an example. This is the really lovely hot pepper chilli called 'Hungarian Hot Wax' and what you get with that is that the green fruits, there's one here actually just forming, are quite mild, and another one there. But when they turn red they get quite hot, so it's very multi-purpose and it's incredibly prolific. I once picked 45 fruits off one plant through a season, so that's very useful.

This is a sweet pepper called padrón which is sort of like a sweet little shape, like that, that's not quite ready, it will swell up a bit more than that. But that's just like a sweet pepper, occasionally you get a hot one but they're lovely just fried in olive oil with a bit of salt on top as a meze, really nice.

And then they're surrounded by this beautiful tagetes called 'Tall Scotch Prize' which is protecting against whitefly. And over here I've got another whole family of plants that love it in the Mediterranean heat. These are the scented leaf pelargoniums which we use for tea. And then a Mexican plant here, Zinnia 'Giant Dahlia Mix', and you can see, I mean, this is already about four foot and it's mid-July so by September I reckon this is going to be five or six feet. It loves it in here, it loves it in the heat. It's absolutely disease-free, there's not a hint of botrytis which you get sometimes outside in the UK on zinnias.

And then basil, of course, absolutely loves it hot but moist so we water that every day. Lemon verbena, again, for the herb teas, verveine, delicious lemony tea. And a couple of new tomatoes, I just want to draw your attention to, this is one from the Czech Republic called 'Stupicke', or it's shorter name is 'Stupicke'. It's not ripe yet but it has a wonderful flavour and it's very, very prolific, so a lot of smallholders are starting to grow that for that very reason. Fabulous in taste but really good reliable productivity. So we trialled that a couple of years ago and it's now one of our favourites.

Then the classic 'Sungold' which I've grown here for years and then finally in here is another new one called 'Green Zebra'. People find them slightly troubling because they never know when they're ripe, they don't know when to pick them. But you just trust your fingers, just give them a squeeze and as soon as they begin to soften a little bit you want to eat them, don't leave them till they're muhsy. But the beauty of that is in a tomato salad just chopped up on the plate they look fantastic. The contrast to the red just makes a really beautiful plate.

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