To Do in the Garden – July

07 2013-05-17 Geranium ContainerWith July comes the first real heat of summer.  If you’ve done your major planting in June, this month is a great time to enjoy the beauty of your yard and gardens.  By the end of the month, many perennials are in full bloom.  Annuals are filling in and bursting out.  Vegetable gardens are beginning to fruit up.  On the other hand, if you’ve gotten a late start this year, there is still plenty of time to get plants into the ground or into your containers.  Maintenance activities include watering, weeding, and pest and disease control.  Some perennials may need to be cut back or staked for best performance.

 

Your Entire Property

  • Check your irrigation system for leaks.  Check schedules on timers.  Install rain sensors so that your system won’t turn on in the rain.
  • Eliminate all sources of stagnant water to control mosquitoes.
  • Continue attracting insect eating birds to the garden area by providing them with a fresh water source.  Use a pump to circulate water so that it is fresh for the birds and won’t provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Water as needed.  A garden needs one inch of rain or water each week.  Early morning is the best time to water.  Evening watering is less desirable because plant leaves that remain wet through the night are more susceptible to fungus diseases.  Watering the soil rather than the plant also helps to reduce risk of disease.  Mulch plants to reduce water losses and improve yields.

 

Lawn

  • Remember to sharpen your lawn mower blades after every 10 hours of use.  Do not mow the lawn when it is wet, as grass can be damaged.
  • Maintain your lawn at 3 to 3.5″ tall to reduce chances of disease and weed infestation.  Taller grass provides its own shade, which keeps the soil cooler as we head into the hotter months.
  • If your lawn needs it, transition to a summer fertilizer.  We recommend a slow release organic fertilizer such as Espoma’s Organic Lawn Food – Summer Revitalizer.  (Can be applied from June to August.)
  • Check with your town about water ban regulations.
  • If you are allowed to water, remember that best practice is to water deeply once a week rather than several light waterings.  Early morning is the best time to water.  Evening watering is less desirable because plant leaves that remain wet through the night are more susceptible to fungal diseases.
  • Monitor lawn for grubs and treat as needed.

 

Trees and Shrubs

  • Continue to water any trees or shrubs you planted in the spring.  It takes a full growing season before roots are well established and the plant is able to sustain dry periods.  Some trees and shrubs, even well-established, will continue to need watering during particularly dry periods.

 

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Go easy on fertilizer for most plants, as many are slowing down their growth rates during the heat of the summer.
  • Keep up with weeding before your beds are overwhelmed.  A few minutes a day is easier than spending an entire weekend weeding later in the month.  Apply more mulch as needed.
  • Rudbeckia, phlox, and monarda are susceptible to powdery mildew.  Serenade is an organic fungicide that works well as a preventive measure before the fungus develops in the hot weather.  If the mildew has already started, remove any affected leaves and spray the rest of the plant.  Spray on overcast days to avoid burning the leaves.
  • Shear back nepeta and salvia to encourage a second flowering.  Other perennials that might benefit from being cut back at this time include achillea, aquilegia, delphiniums, veronica, geraniums, and dianthus.  Some varieties of roses can be cut back now – cut back to the first set of five leaves.
  • Cut back late flowering perennials such as Montauk daisy, Autumn Joy sedum, and mums in early July to encourage dense growth and lots of flowers in the fall.
  • Stake tall flowers to prevent damage by wind.  Use stakes that are large enough to support the plant but are not too conspicuous.  Use soft twine or twist ties to secure.

 

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • Check the soil moisture of your containers daily.  With hot summer temperatures, especially if it is windy or the humidity is low, some plants may need water twice a day.  This is especially true of hanging baskets lined with moss or coco fiber.
  • If necessary, switch out one or two plants in your container to keep it looking fresh through the summer.

 

Houseplants and Tropicals

 

Vegetables and Fruits

  • We still have a great selection of veggie and herb seedlings.
  • Continue to make successive plantings of crops like beans, beets, corn, carrots, radishes, turnips, and lettuce, spinach, and other greens and leafy vegetables to provide a continuous harvest until fall.  A small garden will produce a large quantity of vegetables if replanting is done throughout the summer.
  • Transplant cool weather crops for a second harvest of beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, rutabagas, turnips, green onions, and celery.
  • A shuffle hoe is a great tool for keeping weeds under control between rows of veggies.  Use it regularly, before weeds get firmly established.  And, use carefully so as not to disturb the roots of your vegetable plants.
  • Now that your vegetable garden is well established, as with lawns, it is best to water it thoroughly once a week rather than giving it a light watering every day.  That way, a deeper root system develops, which helps the plants tolerate dry weather through the rest of the summer.  Water in the early morning, and water the soil, not the plants.  Mulch plants to retain water and prevent temperature fluctuations.  Salt marsh hay is an excellent mulch choice for vegetable gardens.
  • Squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons are susceptible to powdery mildew.  Serenade is an organic fungicide that works well as a preventive measure before the fungus develops in the hot weather.  If the mildew has already started, remove any affected leaves and spray the rest of the plant.  Spray on overcast days to avoid burning the leaves.
  • If needed, spray with Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew to control the beetles that arrive in earnest this month.