July garden happenings

JULY GARDEN HAPPENINGS

Ah, the dog days of summer! The days are long and the heat is on — and all these higher temps are taxing on both garden and gardener. But don’t despair and hide inside — now is the time to garden smartly to protect yourself and to ensure that your garden continues to thrive. Read on for our best tips for staying on top of your July garden!

Always keep in mind that even within the same USDA Hardiness Zone, various microclimates exist, so it’s best to get specific gardening information about your area from your County Extension Office or a trusted local garden center.

Zones 3-5: Remember all that work you did in the spring to get your garden going? Now it’s harvest time, so be sure to continually harvest your fruits and veggies to keep them producing. Go ahead and set out your broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower transplants for the fall garden, and sow seeds of carrot, turnip, beets, collards, kale, snap beans, radish, and rutabagas. Continue planting beans and sweet corn for additional harvest. Lightly fertilize your tomato and pepper plants, and plan to feed your container plantings about every two weeks. Water smartly — early in the morning or later in the day is best to avoid evaporation, and aim for a thorough soaking rather than a light sprinkling. Regularly remove dead flowers from annuals and perennials, and inspect all of your plants for summertime pest or disease damage.

Zones 6-8: These zones amp up the heat during the summer, so it’s best to garden earlier in the morning or later in the day to avoid overheating. Continue harvesting fruits and veggies to ensure ample production. Plant heat-tolerant varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, and start seeding beans, pumpkins, and squash. Plant irises and daylilies late in the month, and dig up and divide spring-blooming bulbs when they go dormant. Planning a fall garden? Start prepping the soil now! Fertilize roses mid-month to coax additional blooms, but avoid fertilizing trees and shrubs at this time of year. Many areas within these zones experience regular drought conditions — if you haven’t received any significant rain, be sure your garden gets approximately 1” of supplemental water a week, and be prepared to water your container plantings up to twice a day. Make sure you have a 3-4” layer of mulch to conserve that valuable soil moisture. Remove and dispose of any annuals that are spent, and stay on top of deadheading on those annuals that are still trekking.

Zones 9-11: As with previous zones, when you regularly harvest your fruits and veggies, your plants will reward you with more produce. If you plant in the first part of the month, you can still put in okra, pole beans, lima beans, corn, cucumbers, squash, and snap beans. Plant gladiolus and butterfly lily, as well as palms (but only if you’re receiving enough rainy weather!), coleus, ornamental peppers, and crossandra. Water early in the morning, thoroughly soaking to avoid drought stress. On the other hand, if you live in a coastal area, prepare for hurricane season by pruning all weak tree branches. A good 3-4” layer of mulch will conserve soil moisture during these scorching days. Lightly fertilize flowering plants to encourage continuous bloom and health, and remove any dead or diseased plant from your garden immediately. Replace with new plants, ensuring the newbies get enough consistent water to get established.

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