Plant the following vegetables no later than July 20 to allow time to mature before frost: tomatoes, peppers, okra, corn, cucumbers, squash, snap beans, pole beans and lima beans.
Many perennials and biennials can be started now from seed; then set out in the fall in nursery beds.
Plant zinnia seed by July 4 for late blooms in annual border.
Plant a cover crop in bare spots in the vegetable garden.
Stop feeding woody plants. Promoting more soft growth in high summer isn’t good; time for them to start moving toward the hardening-off phase of their cycle. No more fertilizer until late winter or early spring.
Time to put down your second and last fertilizer application on centipede. Fertilize zoysia lawns now with a 26-4-12 lawn fertilizer.
Fertilize all container plants frequently (at least every two weeks) because daily watering leaches out nutrients pretty quickly.
Check azaleas and camellias for iron chlorosis (pale green leaves, darker green veins). If necessary, use copper or iron chelate to correct iron deficiency.
Prune blackberries after harvest.
Do not let basil plants flower as it will change the flavor. Keep pinching out flowers, but the best approach is, as soon as the flowers start to form, cut the plants back hard, right above a set of leaves low on the branch. The stems will quickly resprout. Make a batch of pesto from the harvest.
Always be on the lookout for dead, damaged, diseased wood in trees and shrubs, and prune them out as discovered. Ditto with suckers and water sprouts.
Prune climbing roses and rambler roses after bloom.
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.
Deadhead faded perennials unless they have showy seed heads (same with bulbs) if you want to collect seed later (non-hybrids only).
Shear back spent annuals by one-third.
Deadheading redirects energy towards healthy roots.
Do a final pinching by mid-July of fall-blooming flowers such as mums and asters.
Prune summer-flowering shrubs as soon as the blossoms fade.
Irrigation is your single biggest garden responsibility this month. 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. Plants in containers may need water once or twice a day during hot spells. Be alert!
Keep cucumber plants well watered. Drought conditions will cause bitter fruit.
Consistent moisture is important for preventing blossom-end-rot on tomatoes (and sometimes squash or peppers). Mulch helps as well as attention to calcium content of soil.
To keep hanging baskets looking attractive, soak the baskets in a tub of water every few days in addition to the regular daily watering.
Trees are especially vulnerable to drought, particularly the oldest and the youngest (those planted in the last few years). Water deeply!
Consider drip irrigation and/or soaker hoses as efficient watering alternatives.
Be sure to make arrangements for neighbors to harvest and water your garden while you are on vacation.
Use all chemicals – for insects, weeds or nematodes – according to directions on the label. The warnings and precautions are for your protection.
Store pesticides in a safe place in their original containers away from children and pets. Do not allow children or pets to play on lawns freshly applied with weed controls. It is best to wait one week.
To minimize insect damage to squash and cucumber plants, try covering them with lightweight floating row covers. Remove covers once plants flower.
One way to find out what’s crawling in lawn is to mix two tablespoons of dish soap in a gallon of water and pour over a small area. Bugs will come to the surface.
Insecticidal soaps will help control aphids and other soft-bodied insects early on. Malathion is a good all-round material for aphids and red spider mites and gives some worm control. Carbaryl (Sevin) is another effective material, especially for bean beetles, tomato and corn earworms, cucumber beetles and pickleworms. Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel, Thuricide) is an excellent biological control for cabbage worm or cabbage looper.
Apply a second spray to trunks of peach trees for peach borers.
Apply final treatment for borers on hardwood trees.
Hot, dry weather is ideal for spider mite development. With spider mite damage, leaves may be speckled above and yellowed below. Evergreen needles appear dull gray-green to yellow or brown. Damage may be present even before webs are noticed.
If webworms are appearing in your pecans, persimmons and other trees, prune out the limbs with the webs and dispose of them OR break open the webs so birds can get to them and eat them, or spray the webworms with a solution of one gallon of water plus one tablespoon of insecticidal soap.
Spray hollies for leaf miner control.
To control weeds, use mulch. Deep cultivation after plants are older will do more damage than good.
Control mosquitoes by eliminating all sources of stagnant water.
Make a pass through each bed each week, since weeds are not just unsightly but steal moisture, nutrients and light from desired plants.
If you are in Japanese beetle territory, handpick (as with other obvious pests such as tomato hornworms) in early morning and drown in a can of water mixed with a little dishwashing liquid to reduce infestation.
Keep asparagus well weeded. Let their ferns grow till frost to feed the underlying crowns.
Clean off harvested rows immediately to prevent insect and disease buildup.
Till and mulch soil to conserve moisture for germination of fall crops and to help reduce the nematode population in the soil.
Prevent rose diseases with a fungicide spray program.
Protect honeybees. If you must use an insecticide (even organic), spray late in the evening when fewer bees are active.
Work on canning, dehydrating and freezing extra produce from your garden to enjoy all year long. There are so many possibilities for saving your garden bounty!
Prepare new beds for fall planting by smothering grass or weeds with layers of recycled corrugated cardboard or thick layers of newspaper, then put mulch on top.
Edge beds to make a clean line and define them, and keep edges clean with regular fine tuning with grass shears. A clean edge makes a big difference.
Don’t bag or rake clippings; let them lie on the lawn to return nitrogen to the soil.
Start a new compost pile, or turn and add to the old one. Don’t let the compost heap dry out completely, or it will not "cook."
Drink lots and lots of water. Hydration is the key to keeping from having a heat-related illness. An eight-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.
Clean up fallen fruits under trees.
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 temptation to apply a layer of sandy loam over the entire lawn area just because your neighbor does.
Be on the lookout for suckers coming from the roses in your garden. Where roses grow on their own roots, maybe reared from cuttings, there should be no suckers at all. But many roses have been grafted to a stronger root stock and sometimes this root stock will send out suckers. Any suckers from the roots, or from the stem below the graft, should be removed as far below the surface of the soil as possible.
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 to the garden for collecting flowers, rather than a cutting basket.
Harvest often to get vegetables at the proper stage of maturity. If left to mature fully, the plant will stop producing. Early morning harvest, before vegetables absorb heat from the sun, is best for most vegetables.
Continue attracting insect-eating birds to the garden area by providing them with a fresh water source. Keep feeders and baths clean.
Divide bearded iris now.