Thursday, June 30, 2011

July Garden Tips: Midsummer Heat

July is considered midsummer, which means a lot of dry hot days and I can summarize what you need to do this month in four simple words:

1. Weed
2. Deadhead
3. Mulch
4. Water

Keeping ahead of the weeds, especially if you grow organically, is so important this time of year. One week can go by and if you haven't weeded and mulched the weeds can take over a garden or a flowerbed. The mulch really does help, but it's important to weed, then mulch. Once you do this, the weeding chores will be much easier. I've been weeding the day after it rains, and this has really helped a lot.

Deadheading is important for annuals and perennials. Some perennials may be done blooming, but deadheading still keeps the plant looking nice and allows more energy to go into developing next year's blooms. If it's a plant that does keep blooming then removing the dead blooms will help it continue to bloom. Some plants may need to be trimmed down to keep a neat appearance. A lot of herbs need this, which is why harvesting is important even if you can't use what you clip off. Either give them away or bundle into clumps and dry in a shed or garage. Lemon balm, oregano, sage, lavender, chives, mints, rosemary, and other perennial herbs are ones that need this done to keep looking nice for the entire summer.

Annuals need to be deadheaded to keep looking good. A few will do okay without it, but some will stop blooming such as snapdragons, some petunias, Cape daisies (Osteospermum)and pansies are examples. It never hurts to snip off old blooms, and usually it will benefit the plant. If the plants look good, and they are blooming well, then don't worry about it.

Watering this time of year can be tricky. Try to water in the morning before it's too hot. If you water in the hottest part of the day it will dry too quickly. If you water at night, it can cause mildew or other problems with some plants. The slugs also tend to do more damage if the plants and foliage are damp at night. Soaker hoses are one of the best ways to water when you can use them. Turn them on for a couple hours in the morning to soak things down well, and they'll be okay.

Watch plants on windy, hot days. They will dry out VERY quickly, especially container plants. You may need to water more on these days.

July can be a chore heavy month, but your landscape and garden will look better and produce more if you watch the watering, deadheading, mulching and weeding this month.

It's Strawberry Season! On OFL we have tips and recipes: