July feels like a bit of an in between month in our garden. The tomatoes aren't quite ready and neither are the courgettes, but the strawberries are nearly over and the elderflowers are browning in the sunshine. Luckily, though, if you know what to search for, there are still many delights to enjoy on your plate this month.
Lots of people are unsure about gooseberries and find them too tart, but they are a wonderful fruit that we really should utilise much more in the kitchen. Try baking them in a tart or turn them into jam (particularly good with leftover strawberries) and enjoy with a dollop of creme fraiche.
Beetroot is starting to come into its own by the time July rolls around. Don't be put off by any you've had from the supermarket swimming in vinegar - the real stuff is so much tastier! Grate into curries and chilli dishes, blend to form a soup or roast with other summer veg for a quick and easy midweek meal. If you've got time it's also rather wonderful in a chocolate cake, and makes for a much healthier treat.
French beans and mangetout are two other summer staples for the month ahead. French beans in particular are so easy to grow and take up so little space, and they just keep on coming over the summer. Add to stir-fries, pasta dishes or use them to spruce up a salad. If they're picked early you can enjoy them raw, but if not don't overcook them or they'll be limp and bland.
Lamb is also at its best, so get the barbecue out and grill some lamb and mint burgers. Throw on a few vegetable kebabs and serve with nettle jelly (nicer than it sounds!). Finish the meal with homemade rose petal ice cream and you're in for a treat.