July Gardening Tips
What a great time to be out enjoying the garden and the rewards of all your spring toils. Your garden is full of blossoms and greenery. Barefoot breakfasts on the deck and warm summer evening festivities bring needed respite to our busy lives.
A great way to enjoy your garden is by cutting flowers early in the morning and arranging them for indoor display.
Many flowers are also edible and can dress up your table. Pineapple sage (sweet), nasturtium (peppery), and daylily flowers are all quite tasty.
Keeping gardens and containers watered this time of year becomes a daily challenge. Watering early in the day or in late evening will help the water soak into the soil instead of evaporating. Do not water between the hours of 10:00 am and 6:00 pm.
For automated sprinkler systems this is a good time to see how it is working. Examine each head to see if they are broken or clogged and to make sure heads are turned in the right direction to spray on the flowerbeds. Often we forget about them because they run so early in the morning. If overspray is a problem, often a few turns of the screw in the middle of most heads with shorten the spray distance. If you live in a managed property, let the management company know if you see a broken head.
As plants grow, garden pests and weeds will challenge even the most persistent gardener. Scheduling a specific time or certain number of hours per week to be in your garden can help you keep weeds in check or notice pest problems. Removing younger weeds before the go to seed is easier than removing older ones and reduces future weed populations.
Slugs and snails are a constant problem. Handpicking or beer traps are easy control methods. Another simple trap is to elevate a piece of wood a few inches off the ground in a damp shady area. The slugs and snails will congregate there can be easily gathered and then thrown in the garbage. Use chemical baits only when other treatments fail and be careful so children, pets, and other wildlife do not eat any treatments. Contrary to popular belief, smashing slugs and snails does not spread their eggs.
Many perennials and some annuals will now be finished blooming and are now producing seeds. Many perennials will rebloom if the old flowers and developing seeds are removed, a process called dead heading. The old or spent blossoms should be cut off where the flower stem connects to the leaves usually several inches down in the plant. Since dead-heading also removes unsightly, dry flower heads it also improves the appearance of your garden.
A few perennials like catmint (Nepeta), golden alyssum, and candytuft need extreme dead heading in the form of shearing to about 6 inches to encourage a late summer rebloom. A good reference for perennial care is The Well Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust.
Grass clippings are green gold! Don’t throw them away. When mowing turf-grasses (lawns), use a mulching mower which chops the clippings smaller and leaves them on the lawn. This recycles nutrients back into the turf. You can also use grass clippings as mulch around vegetables, shrubs, and perennials. Clippings are also a great addition to your compost pile. Just keep it stirred to allow the fungi to get some air.
A common garden and lawn weed, black medic, is peaking this time of year. The leaves look similar to clover but with small yellow flowers and grows very close to the ground. When soils are damp, the tap root is easily pulled up by hand. A favorite weeding tool to discourage persistent weeds is a dandelion digger. Check out our gift shop for a wide variety of helpful tools.
Provide an even supply of water to tomatoes to help prevent blossom end rot. Blossom end rot is a symptom of calcium deficiency. It isn’t because there isn’t enough calcium, but that there wasn’t enough water to carry it to the tomato on a regular basis. Routine watering is the best treatment.
Spring flowerings shrubs are now finished and ready to be pruned. These include lilacs, forsythia and spireas. Shrubs benefit the most from “thinning”. This is done by removing several large branches by cutting at the base as close the ground as possible. Three to four large branches is usually sufficient each year. To learn more, our bookstore has several “pruning classics” for sale to give you instruction.