July 2008
Featured Articles




PLANT


Plant winter vegetables now; don’t wait until late summer or early fall….Put in bush beans, beets, carrots, turnips, lettuce, spinach and potatoes for fall crops….Sow salad crops for fall now….. Plant rutabagas for winter storing….Give vegetables side dressings of compost or manure tea when ground is moist…. Clean off and destroy old pea vines immediately after harvest….Dig early potatoes….Feed rhubarb and asparagus….Mulch if July is dry.

Finish planting cantaloupe and watermelon seeds at the beginning of July.

Plant eggplant, large-variety pumpkins, black-eyed peas and pepper seeds until midmonth.

Set out tomato and pepper transplants and sow winter squash seeds throughout the month.

When transplanting vegetables during this season, set the plants carefully, watering each one and then shading them with paper for at least three days.

It is time to divide spring-flowering plants such as irises, Shasta daisies, ox-eye daisies, gaillardias, cannas, daylilies, violets, liriopes and ajugas.

Make your selections and place your orders for spring flowering bulbs to arrive in time for planting in October and November.

It is not too late to set out another planting of many warm-season annuals such as marigolds, zinnias and periwinkles. They will require extra attention for the first few weeks but should provide fall color in September, October and into November.

Spruce up flower beds by adding annuals to fill mid-season "holes" in color.

Plant garden mums now for a blaze of color this fall.

Plant a kitchen plot of herbs. Many of them are perennial.

Finish planting gladiolus corms.

Select crepe myrtles while they are in bloom. Remember, they can vary greatly in size and flower colors. Choose the right height for your landscape to help avoid overpruning and ruining the tree’s natural form.


FERTILIZE


Continue feeding actively growing ornamentals, edibles, container gardens and house plants. (Exceptions are most native plants.) Give fruit trees their second of three annual feedings. Feed them again in late summer.

Supplement iron-hungry plants with a chelated iron. Symptoms include yellow leaves with green veins. Follow package directions carefully.

Hedges and plant material prone to mildew will benefit from monthly feedings with a high phosphorus fertilizer.

Give plants a mid-summer boost by spreading organic fertilizer throughout the lawn and landscape beds.

Feed tuberous begonias and fuchsias with 0-10-10 fertilizer.


PRUNE

Remove suckers between the main stem and branches on staked tomatoes. It encourages bushier growth. While you’re at it, pinch back tops of plants that have become leggy.

Mid-summer pruning of rose bushes can be beneficial. Prune out dead canes and any weak, brushy-type growth. Cut back tall, vigorous bushes to about 30 inches. After pruning, apply a complete fertilizer and water thoroughly. If a preventive disease-control program has been maintained, your rose bushes should be ready to provide an excellent crop of flowers this fall.

Cut back leggy annuals now so they will be full in the fall. Although it can be a little hard to do, it’s ultimately good for the plants. Trim back your impatiens, coleus, begonias, narrow-leaf zinnias, and salvias by one-third. Water plants, and then fertilize with a slow-release, granular product.

Encourage bushy growth and increased flower production on geraniums and fuchsias by pinching out tip growth regularly.

Re-blooming salvias can be cut back a few inches to remove old blooms and stimulate new growth.

Cut this year’s fruiting blackberry canes to ground level after berry production is complete to encourage next year’s bearing stalks.

Anytime you find dead or diseased wood in trees or shrubs, prune it out. Hold off on major pruning until midwinter. However, the growing season can be a good time to tag branches needing to be pruned later on.


WATER


Check your water system frequently for plugged sprinkler heads.

Take a look at the vegetable garden each morning. If plants are wilted first thing in the morning, they need a drink.

Don’t let the leaves of beans and tomatoes get wet, as they easily mildew.

Don’t allow plants with green fruit or berries to suffer from lack of moisture. Hollies will frequently drop their fruit under drought conditions.

Keep bougainvilleas vines on the dry side during their blooming season to insure the brightest colored bracts.

Mulch heavily around the base of rose bushes and follow a regular watering program. Roses love deep, thorough waterings.

Make sure the lawn is getting about 1 to 1 ½ inches of water every week. Water thoroughly and infrequently to encourage strong, deep root systems and drought-tolerant plants.

Caladiums require plenty of water at this time of year if they are to remain lush and active until fall. Fertilize with 20-0-0 at the rate of l/3 to l/2 pounds per 100 square feet of bed area and water thoroughly.

Water potted plants and hanging baskets regularly. The hanging baskets, in particular, may need watering twice a day during summertime.


PEST CONTROL

Monitor garden plants for insect and disease problems. Early intervention brings best results.

Be on the lookout for squash bugs on your squash, cucumber or melon plants!

Look for tomato hornworms early in the morning on your tomato plants. Hand-pick and discard. It is so gratifying to squash the little monsters!

Pick up and destroy all wormy or rot-infected fruit and vegetables.

Thin out lush, thick growth in the shade garden to let in light and improve air circulation. Such pruning can prevent insect infestations and fungus diseases (especially powdery mildew and rust).

Treat or blast spider mites off plants with water or treat with insecticidal soap. Remove and discard badly infested plant parts.

Check brown spots in lawns for sodweb worms and grubs.

Change the water in birdbaths at least once a week to keep mosquitoes from breeding.

Place strips of foil or hang CDs in trees to deter birds. A tip: Don’t hang them until just before harvest; otherwise the birds will get used to them and eat the crop anyway.

To prevent and cure your lawns of brown patch, it’s recommended first that as a matter of practice, you water your lawn in the morning to allow the grass blades to dry before night. Deep thorough watering is very important. A thirsty lawn is more susceptible.

Dead patches in your St. Augustine grass at the sunniest, hottest parts of your lawn indicate chinch bugs—black insects with white patches on their backs.

Treat webworms in trees with Bacillus thuringiensis. But first, use a long pole to break open webs in tall trees.

Don’t panic if you see only a few undesirable insects around the yard. Encourage natural predators like toads and birds by providing appropriate shelter and water sources.

Protect indoor plants from warm-weather pests. Using a hand lens or magnifying glass, check the undersides of leaves for thin, black greenhouse thrips and eight-legged spider mites. Their feeding causes stippled, bleached or silvered foliage. Flat, white mealybugs live on leaves, stems or lodged in leaf axils and surround themselves with a cottony substance. To manage any of these tiny critters, give them an occasional shower with room temperature water and/or spray them with insecticidal soap, following package directions (be sure your coverage includes the backs of leaves). Mealybugs can be daubed off with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.


ODD JOBS


Establish a new compost pile for the fall leaf accumulation.

Snip cut flower stems at an angle and early in the morning to ensure a long vase life. Place in a bucket full of tepid water.

To minimize exposure to the harsh rays of the sun, do your gardening in the morning and evening when the sun is at a lower angle and the temperature is cooler. Avoid working outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Always remember to wear sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin.

Get rid of mosquitoes by using Mosquito Dunks. When placed in ponds, birdbaths, or other standing water, they release bacteria that kill larvae.

Several inches of composted pine bark, shredded bark products, pine needles or hay can significantly reduce evaporation and heat stress during our warmest times. Replenish mulch throughout the landscape where it is breaking down and the layer is wearing thin.

Mow lawns frequently, but don’t cut your grass too short. During our hottest months, remove no more than one-third of the blade at a time. Mow St. Augustine to a height of 2-1/2 to 3 inches, Zoysia 1 to 2 inches, Bermuda 2 inches and centipede 1-1/2 to 2 inches.

Fill containers with colorful blooming annuals and scatter throughout the outdoor living areas – on decks, by front doors, on porches and balconies.

Hydrangeas in tubs on a shaded patio or under a lath will add large splashes of color with their enormous blooms.

Feed the birds!