Tip for the month of July—Sit Back and Relax!! For many of us, the 4th of July date marks the beginning of the entertainment season. We plan, we phone, we shop, we decorate, we mow, we clean, we check supplies, we shop again, we cook, we carry lawn chairs and coolers outside, and we fret about the weather. When the guests arrive it, all starts over. Pouring, serving, clearing, fetching, and recycling can fill hours, if we let them. So, part of the planning needs to include ways to have some time for you to sit back and enjoy your party, too. Making your event a potluck will eliminate much of the shopping and cooking. Have everyone bring their own beverages. And finally, don’t mow. Your lawn will do better with foot traffic if it is left a little bit longer. Now that we have talked about having parties and enjoying your yard and garden, let’s get down to other tasks at hand for July.
It’s not too late to plant shrubs, perennials and annual flowers, but you will need to give them a little TLC for the summer. If you have Japanese beetles, you have several options for controlling them, from handpicking (not my favorite) to trapping (the safest) or spraying them. Japanese beetle traps are readily available and do a fantastic job of eradicating the problem naturally.
Hot, dry weather is ideal for spider mite development. Damage may be present even before the webs are noticed. With spider mite damage, leaves may be speckled above and yellowed below. Evergreen needles appear dull gray green to yellow to brown. Spray with permethrin to control this critter. Sweet corn is ripe when the silks turn brown. Blossom-end rot occurs on tomato and peppers when soil moisture is uneven and the calcium level in the soil is not right. Adding lime to the garden soil will help these issues next year.
Water conservation is of the utmost importance during our dry summer months. Water where it counts, at the roots, not the leaves. Drip irrigation systems do wonders for water conservation and are easy to install. Trees and shrubs would also benefit from a deep root watering this time of year. You can use a deep root feeder (without the fertilizer). Water them around the drip line of the tree for best success. Water frequently enough to prevent wilting. When you mow your grass, cut it less frequently and at a higher level. Longer grass blades shade the soil and conserve moisture. Plant drought tolerant, native plants where possible.
Check your plant containers daily for dryness. Put your finger at least one inch down in the soil, if it is dry, water thoroughly. Hanging baskets will need a drink at least once a day, sometimes even twice a day, depending on the weather. Provide water in the garden for birds during dry weather and they will repay you with wonderful antics and bird song. Enjoy nature and your gardens this summer. You won’t regret it.
See you in the Garden,
Sandi Hillermann McDonald