July is often a very hot, dry month. So we usually don’t start new garden projects, but there is always plenty of maintenance chores to do. You may want to consider starting your fall vegetable garden right now. The best time to do any type of garden mainte- nance is early morning, or late in the day after supper when it is not so hot. Here are a few gardening tips for July.
Watering: Be alert for summer drought conditions. Proper watering is essential to keeping your plants healthy. The main rule of thumb is to water deeply and as infrequently as possible. This will encourage a deeper root system. Frequent and light sprinklings tend to keep the plant roots near the surface of the soil. Plants with this type of root system are more susceptible to extreme heat and water shortages and are easily stressed during the summer months.
Mulching: Applying a thick layer of mulch over the root systems of plants is the best way to help them get through the dryness of the summer months. A 3-4” layer will prevent most evaporation from the soil and significantly lower the soil temperature, reducing stress on the root system.
Lawn Care: Laws tend to grow rapidly this time of year. The best lawns are those that are mowed fre- quently, meaning every 5-6 days. As rainfall becomes less frequent, watering will need to be more fre- quent. Lawns need about 1” of water per week. This can be accomplished in one or more applications, depending on the soil. Sandy soils and newly planted lawns should be watered more frequently. Keep watch for lawn pests, like Chinch bugs. They tend to multiply rapidly in the warm weather.
Vegetables: You should harvest vegetables regularly to keep your garden productive. Letting your vege- tables grow larger will cause production to go down. You can begin preparing your fall garden now, so you can harvest before the first freeze. You’ll need to pamper new transplants to get them ready for har- vest in October. Don’t plant the same vegetable type in the same spot year after year. Soil-borne diseases could build up and eventually cause problems. Add compost and manure, or other fertilizers to the garden before tilling. If your plant growth was poor this spring, check the pH of your garden soil before adding nutrients, add lime is needed.
Other Tips: Container plants should be watered frequently to keep them from drying out. Use a water- soluble fertilizer regularly to keep them growing and healthy. Check for fungus on the bark of your trees. It will appear as a grey discoloration. Douse the tree roots with the appropriate systemic fungicide. Lightly fertilize flower beds to encourage growth. You should remove any dead flowers on your plants to encourage new growth. Replace dead or diseased plants immediately. Prepare for hurricane season early.
Remove any weak branches, and prune your trees.