|From In the Garden|
The garden is in its fullness now. Supertunias (pictured above) and other flowers are blooming their hearts out, the weeds and cool season lawn grasses are slowing down, and it is really almost too hot to work in the garden, but I hope you enjoy this month in the garden nonetheless.
In the garden in July I can expect to:
1) Water, water, water. Need I say more? Yes, I will. If you water your lawn (I do NOT) and you do not have a water deficit (less than 1 inch per week for two weeks), plan on watering so that the lawn receives 1" of water per week. You can tell when you have watered for one inch by leaving out a few empty and clean tuna cans and checking them periodically. Do this only once per week. If you have a deficit, you may need to water longer. Dig down about 3-4" to check and make sure the ground is moist.
For newly planted perennials, shrubs and trees, water until they are thoroughly soaked to a depth of 3-4", or even deeper. I usually hand water most of my plantings. Established plantings should not need to be watered unless they are showing signs of drought stress. Another good way to water is to use soaker hoses. Some signs your plants are stressed might be wilted leaves in the morning. Wilted leaves when the sun is out is to be expected, don't worry about it unless they are still wilted the next morning. Try to plant water needy plants close to your watering station, and more drought tolerant plants further away in order to save you work later on. No one wants to drag hoses all over the yard.
Vegetables need regular watering each week. I water mine deeply once a week or sometimes more often depending on the weather and how they are doing. With a mulch, generally vegetables would be happy with one inch to one and one half inches of rain per week. A simple sprinkler will work to get the whole garden at once, but soaker hoses are better because they put the water right at the roots. Watering at night may provide a good environment for fungal diseases to grow so try to water the first thing in the morning. That being said, I've been known to water at night in the vegetable garden.
Container plantings need water frequently. Like almost every day. Seedlings are in the same boat. Water frequently.
If we get rain, be sure to have a rain gauge that is not blocked by overhanging trees or shelter so that you can keep track of how much water your plantings have received.
2) Deadhead (Shastas, bee balm, catmint, salvias, daylillies, hostas, NOT coneflowers or hydrangeas.
3) Pick berries: Blueberries, Gooseberries and blackberries. After you have picked all of your blackberries, cut those canes down to make room for this years canes to grow and replace the old canes.The new blackberry canes will bear fruit next year.
4) Mulch to replace lost mulch or to refresh new mulch. I've been using old hay and some leaves in the vegetable garden. Be sure to put a good layer of newspapers under the mulch and don't cover your stems. Mulching is one of those jobs that is a year round responsibility. At least it seems that way in my garden.
5) Weedeat and trim as necessary.
6) Grass cutting has slowed to about once every four or five days depending on rain. I do NOT water my lawn in the summer. My fescue goes dormant and will recover in the fall. I concentrate my efforts on the newly planted perennials, trees and shrubs, there are always some here that need to be watered and it is not worth it to me to water the lawn. Fortunately this year has seen some fairly good rains and the fescue is hanging tough so far.
7) Stop pinching mums. Apply a bit of fertilizer to them and roses prior to the middle of July.
8) Now is a good time to install a patio watering system for container plants.
9) Harvest vegetables regularly. Prepare to can and freeze your harvest as it will come in fast and heavy.
10) Make sure you remember your feathered friends by making sure you rinse and fill your bird baths regularly.
11) Trim suckers from crabapple trees and crepe myrtles. I like to do this on a regular basis in order to prevent a marathon tree trimming session.
12) Spot treat those pesky weeds like poison ivy, honeysuckle, burdock, thistle, and the like. Roundup works good for this job. Sometimes hand pulling just doesn't get the job done.
13) Finish planting your vegetable garden. It is not too late for some vegetables like corn, zucchini, cucumbers, and beans. I only recently finished planting mine now that the winter crops have all been pulled. Most warm season crops need 8-12 weeks of growing season in order to produce. Here in Tennessee our average date first frost is not until 15 October, so we have a good 8-12 weeks left of the growing season for sure.
14) Deadhead annuals and apply fertilizer about every 2-3 weeks. In my garden I use the Osmocote slow release fertilizer for all annuals at the time of planting. This normally does not need supplementing, but a diluted dose of liquid fertilizer will not hurt the plants.
15) You can take cuttings of many plants right now. Some I have already done are: sedum, helenium, veronica, salvias, and turtlehead. I've planted most of these out already. Another plant you want to take cuttings from right now is Pineapple sage. I had great luck wintering several cutting plants in my garage. This spring all I had to do was plant them out and they are growing like weeds. This is a good plant to grow because of its drought tolerance and late season red beauty, but is not often found in the stores so cuttings are a good way to be a step ahead in the gardening game. Another bonus of cuttings is the fact the plants stay a bit more bushy and compact. I used to take cuttings of mums and helianthus, but I have found these multiply pretty well on their own so unless you need more of these fast, don't bother.
16) Treat for insects in the garden. Some pests you may run in to are: spider mites and aphids (a good spray of water helps dislodge them and sends them on their way), Japanese beetles (handpick or spray with an approved insecticide), Sawflies (insecticidal spray), potato beetles (handpick or Sevin), Squash vine borers (Sevin, but first cut the stem and remove the borers then tape it back and treat), and flea beetles (Sevin). Good luck as bugs are very bad this year.
17) I don't grow many roses, but the ones that I do I will fertilize one last time (this week or NLT 15 July), and cut them back pretty hard.
18) Probably the biggest chore I'll be doing in my garden this month is rearranging and watering. Sometimes you have to rearrange when plants are in bloom, hence the watering as summer is not the time to move plants around. Hang in there, fall will be here before we know it. Hopefully the rains will continue for the rest of the summer and we'll have the best summer ever....
in the garden....