09 Jul JULY GARDEN GOAL DIGGER
For most gardeners, July signals the height of summer. While warm climates still have a couple of months of hot weather ahead, and cooler zones will begin to slow down later in August, everyone’s hot in July. This shared camaraderie infuses energy into the garden community — you can see daily images on social media of what people are growing, problem-solving between gardening friends, and shared stories of triumphs and adversities.
Use this July Garden Goal Digger article to keep your spirits high and your challenges low.
Garden Season Prep Goals
- Have you begun planning out your fall garden? Just the thought of those cooler days may be enough to get you through these sweltering ones.
- Have plenty of sunscreen and insect repellant on hand — it’s no fun to work out in the garden only to get sunburned and bitten from head to toe.
- Keep that garden journal going — I’ve already noted in mine that I planted a bit too late, resulting in a hit-or-miss harvest.
- Is there something you wanted to plant this year but didn’t? Maybe you ran out of time, or couldn’t find the specific plant you were looking for? Make that a priority for next year’s garden. Want to know mine? My friend told me about how she grows a “sunflower house” with morning glory vines — it’s too late to plant it this year, but you can bet it’s already on next year’s list.
- Stay hydrated, wear long sleeves, and don that wide-brimmed hat! It’s amazing how these practices can keep you from overheating.
Garden Chore Goals
- When heat is high and rainfall is low, be sure your garden gets about 1” of irrigation each week. It takes a lot to keep flowering, fruiting, and thriving during the summer months, and your garden needs that consistent moisture.
- Avoid watering the leaves of your plants, which can create disease issues like powdery mildew.
- Stay on top of weeding — don’t let weeds go to seed, or you’ll have a mess on your hands next year. For us this spring and summer, it was beggar’s lice, and we spent 2 days pulling it all out by hand because we let it go to seed last year. Lesson learned!
- Harvest fruit daily so the birds and squirrels don’t do it for you — and remember to pick up any fallen fruit from the ground to avoid attracting pests.
- Are your flowering perennials or annuals looking a bit peaked? Consider pruning them back by half, or giving them some organic fertilizer (if you haven’t already). They will reward you with another flush of growth and bloom.
- Keep bird feeders and waterers clean — dirty water creates bacteria that can sicken wildlife and pollinators.
- Spot any dead or diseased plant? Get it out of the garden quickly so it doesn’t attract unwanted pests or spread disease to a nearby plant.
- Keep your lawn mowed to about 3” tall to avoid heat stress.
- Harvest veggies daily for peak flavor and to encourage more production.
- Can or preserve your excess tomatoes, fruit, peppers, or beans — don’t let them go to waste because you can’t eat them all now!
- Continue planting what is recommended for your USDA Hardiness Zone, but avoid planting anything large like trees or shrubs. They will require enormous amounts of water and care to get established in the heat, and will often show immediate signs of heat stress.
- Start seeds for your fall garden — although there are plenty of garden chores to keep you busy in July, the pace is not as hectic as it is in the spring. Take advantage of this relative low by planning for the next season.
- Do you have animals? Dogs, cats, and urban farm animals need daily fresh water and shaded areas to escape the intense sun and heat.
- Check your garden center for seasonal markdowns on a wide variety of plants and garden accessories — go ahead and buy a plant that needs a little extra love, but bypass those with obvious disease issues.
- Harvest some herbs and muddle them into lemonade — basil, mint, and lemon balm blend deliciously with many of your favorite summer flavors, and rosemary adds a zingy.
- Create a reading or relaxation nook in a shaded part of your garden — just a chair and side table will do!
- On those days when my garden list seems long and my energy is low, I remind myself that, rather than this being an endless list of chores, it’s really a lifestyle I’ve created. This bigger picture perspective is often enough to give me a little jolt of energy.