July means hot temperatures and a potential lack of rain in the garden. Follow these best-practice tips to keep your garden producing right through the dog days of summer…
No matter how wet your spring might have been, the heat and humidity in July can lead to lingering dry conditions. On the flip side, those intense afternoon storms can cause damage in the garden. That’s why there is no real definitive list of gardening chores for this time of year. It’s more of a “suggestions list” to help you maintain the garden while the mercury heats up.
1) Keep a close eye on pests and diseases. Do a check through the garden each day if possible. Treat organically as soon as you spot a problem.
2) If you notice plants suffering from sunburn, offer them a little afternoon shade if possible. Rotate potted plants a quarter of a turn daily to avoid plant sunburn.
3) Give your veggies a feeding of all-natural fertilizer to boost harvests and keep soil health at an optimum.
4) Pull weeds. Pull weeds. Pull weeds. (But do it in the early morning or evening when temps are cooler.)
5) Replace mulch as needed; especially after summer storms wash away.
6) Your plants will need at least an inch of water a week in this heat. (Perhaps more, depending on your climate and the plant.) Stay on top of the watering chore if Mother Nature does not provide frequently enough.
7) Plan your fall garden. Start your fall crops indoors where possible, and begin the transplanting process in a few weeks. Direct sow fall crops like carrots, peas, and lettuce at the end of the month.
8) Harvest your fruits and veggies regularly. This will help keep your plants producing and will keep birds and wildlife from eating it up before you can! Some plants, like green beans, will produce more if you pick them frequently.
9) Keep bird feeders, birdbaths, and water features clean and full. They invite pollinators and beneficial insects into the garden.
10) Deadhead flowers as necessary. Many annuals begin to look “leggy” this time of year from the stress of the heat. The more you deadhead, the more they will produce for you.
11) Make arrangements for garden watering and care while you are gone on vacation.
12) Look out for blossom-end rot on tomato and pepper plants. This occurs when soil moisture is uneven. Water when soil begins to dry and maintain a 2-3 inch layer of mulch.
13) Work on canning, dehydrating, and freezing extra produce from your garden to enjoy all year long. Can tomatoes, freeze corn, dehydrate peppers, and so on. There are so many possibilities for saving your garden bounty. Don’t know how? It’s easy to learn.
14) Keep turning your compost. Try hot composting.
15) Assess any garden damage after intense summer storms. Hail can really damage a garden. Clean up limbs and debris so that pests don’t have a place to hide out. Re-stake plants if damaged by wind.