Plant the following vegetables no later than July 20 to allow time to mature before frost: tomatoes, okra, corn, pole beans, lima beans, cucumbers, squash and snap beans. Watch new seedlings for insect damage and don’t let them dry out in the scorching heat!
Plant heat- and drought-resistant flowers such as coleus, hibiscus, melampodium, pentas, plumbago, portulaca, marigold, zinnia, periwinkle, petunia, cosmos and ageratum.
Many perennials and biennials can be started now from seed; then set out in the fall into nursery beds.
Bearded iris can be divided and replanted when they have finished blooming. Discard all shriveled and diseased parts.
Delay transplanting in-ground trees and shrubs until late fall or winter.
Grass is often hard to establish under trees due to shade and roots; plant a ground cover instead.
Plant a cover crop in bare spots in the vegetable garden.
Feed summer vegetable plantings monthly.
Chrysanthemums should be lightly fertilized every two weeks.
Container-grown plants can’t forage for food and moisture like their garden-grown colleagues can. Feed often.
Do not fertilize cool-season grasses until September.
Re-green yellow lawns with an iron or minor nutrient feeding.
Check azaleas and camellias for iron chlorosis (pale green leaves, darker green veins). If necessary, use copper or iron chelate to correct iron deficiency.
Do not fertilize shrubs from July through November.
Discontinue pinching your chrysanthemums mid-month so they will be able to develop flower buds for the fall. To promote ‘trophy size’ flowers, allow only one or two main shoots to develop. Remove all side buds as they begin to develop.
If you stake your tomatoes in lieu of caging them, you will achieve healthier plants and larger fruit if you remove suckers from the vines.
Prune blackberries after harvest.
Give fruit trees light trimmings as needed to direct growth.
This is a good time to remove water sprouts from apple and pear trees.
Always be on the lookout for dead, damaged and diseased wood in trees and shrubs. Prune them out as discovered.
Through month’s end, softwood cuttings of buddleia, weigela, rose of Sharon and roses, among other shrubs, can be taken to propagate more plants inexpensively.
Do not prune azaleas and rhododendrons after the second week of July for they soon will begin setting their buds for next year’s blooms.
Deadheading will not only keep the flower garden looking nice, removing the spent blooms will encourage some annuals and many perennials to continue blooming or to put on another flush of flowers.
Annual flowers that tend to get very tall can be cut back at least half to one-third to get them back in bounds. Some to cut back are cleome, cosmos, orange cosmos and zinnias.
Do a final pinching by mid-July of fall blooming flowers like mums and asters.
Irrigation is your single biggest garden responsibility this month.
Early morning is the best time to water; when the air is calm and evaporation minimal.
Gardens need an inch of water a week from you or the heavens. Check your rain gauge to make sure they get it and, remember, soak deeply in the root zone, don’t spritz things with a sprayer now and again like you’re washing the car. That’s a garden no-no.
Install micro-sprinklers to conserve water in the vegetable garden.
Before sinking in the ground, soak the rootball of new woody plants in a bucket until no air bubbles come to the surface, dig the planting hole, fill with water and allow to drain away. Place the plant in the hole, fill with soil, firm gently and water well with a watering can - this will give the plant a huge advantage over one planted with a dry rootball in a dry hole and watered only on the surface.
Ensure trees or shrubs planted in the last couple of years on lawns or in areas of rough grass have a circle of clear earth around them - this must be kept clear or grass will prevent essential moisture getting through. Mulching with bark or compost will help. Give them a good soaking once or twice a week, or whenever the soil feels a bit dry to the touch.
Wait until lawns show signs of wilting before watering to help them develop deeper roots.
To keep hanging baskets looking attractive, soak the baskets in a tub of water every few days in addition to the regular daily watering.
Be sure to make arrangements for neighbors to harvest and water your garden while you are on vacation.
Read label directions carefully.
Protect honeybees. If you must use an insecticide (even organic), spray late in the evening when few bees are active.
If you are finding blossom-end rot on tomatoes or other vegetables, you may not be paying enough attention to watering. Other than doing your soil test to make sure there is adequate calcium in the soil, allowing plants to get too drought stressed between waterings is the most common cause of this discouraging malady.
Till and mulch soil to conserve moisture for germination of fall crops and to help reduce the nematode population in the soil.
With all the rain, this season is shaping up to be another bad year for fungus diseases in the vegetable garden. The best way to deal with most diseases is to prevent them from getting started by maintaining weekly fungicide sprays. The most commonly used garden product is chlorothalonil (Bravo, Daconil, etc.). Organic gardeners may want to try Serenade. Copper or sulfur sprays are less effective, but offer a little help.
Clean off harvested vegetable rows immediately to prevent insect and disease buildup.
Cover vacant garden soil with clear plastic for eight weeks to bake out pests (solarization).
Learn to identify lawn weeds and use appropriate controls.
Chinch bugs and sod webworms are now affecting lawns; treat as needed.
Hot, dry weather may actually be a good thing if your lawn is showing symptoms of brown patch fungus disease. The best steps to reduce the spread of the disease are to avoid mowing when the grass is wet, and do not irrigate. If the weather stays dry and the grass goes dormant, the disease will stop developing. If you currently have brown patch you may want to use a bagging attachment to remove clippings for a while.
Early summer rain has produced perfect conditions for lots of black rot to develop on grapes as well as brown rot on peaches. At this point, if you have not been applying fungicide sprays on a regular basis, you probably already have problems. Products containing Captan are most effective.
Resume peach and apple tree sprays after harvest.
Inspect needled evergreens now for bagworms. If possible, remove them by hand. In early July, you can still control them with organic Bt spray (Bacillus thuringiensis). By late July, stronger insecticides will be needed. In August, the caterpillars enter the pupa phase and are not affected by insecticides.
Look for Japanese beetles, aphids, spider mites and the dreadful thrips. Insecticidal soap can be a cure for the latter, but beetles need stronger stuff.
Control mosquitoes by eliminating all sources of stagnant water.
Prevent rose diseases with a fungicide spray program.
Take steps to prevent the invasion of slugs to your garden. If they’re already there, go to the Co-op for eradication ideas.
Don’t bag or rake clippings; let them lie on the lawn to return nitrogen to the soil.
Start planning the fall garden.
Drink lots and lots of water. Hydration is key to keep from having a heat-related illness. An 8 ounce bottle of water an hour when outside will be effective.
Wear SPF 50 sunscreen when expecting to be outside for long periods of time. Sunburn is a stress on your body and enough of it will put you in enough pain to keep you inside for a very long time.
Check garden centers for markdowns on remaining plants.
Keep lawns at about three inches to protect from summer heat.
Maintain a three- to four-inch mulch layer around trees and shrubs to protect them from mower and weed whacker damage. Don’t place the mulch too close to the trunk.
Bats help control mosquitoes; attract these friendly mammals with bat houses.
Low areas in the lawn may be gradually filled with shallow applications of good topsoil where needed. Avoid the temptation to apply a layer of sandy loam over the entire lawn area just because your neighbor does.
Cutting flowers is best done with sharp shears or a knife which will help avoid injury to the growing plant. A slanting cut will expose a larger absorbing surface to water and will prevent the base of the stem from resting on the bottom of the vase. It is best to carry a bucket of water rather than a cutting basket for collecting flowers.
Be sure to make arrangements for neighbors to harvest and water your garden if you go on vacation.
Don’t wait until autumn to harvest your herbs. Snip them now at their peak of perfection, then dry or freeze them.
Harvest vegetables regularly while they are young and tender. Cucumbers and green beans often need to be picked daily. Pick yellow squash and zucchini when they are four to seven inches long.
Irises and daylilies are typically divided now. If you have several varieties of daylilies, it is often helpful to divide while they still have some blooms if you want to keep the varieties separated.
Make sure the garden is well mulched to prevent weeds and conserve moisture.
Regularly sharpen mower blades, change engine oil and clean or replace air filters.
Turn the compost pile every other week. More often if you’re constantly adding new material. Water when needed.
Use easy-to-maintain container gardens as accents for entrances, porches and patios.