JULY GARDENING THOUGHTS!

IN THE GARDEN

Flower beds, shrubs, trees and vegetable gardens should be getting at least one inch of water a week. So far that sure isn't a problem. June's 50 year average rainfall is 3.91" and this year we had 9.98".

Water in the morning to avoid disease problems. Your plants in pots and hanging baskets need more frequent watering. Check soil daily. Frequent watering tends to wash nutrients out of the soil quickly, so fertilize regularly with an all purpose water soluble fertilizer. Follow label directions. Or use a timed release fertilizer for a one time application.

Avoid applying insecticides, fungicides or fertilizers when the temperature is above 85 degrees. Spray in the early morning , when the temperature is below 80 degrees and plants will have a chance to dry before the temperatures reach 85 degrees. Also, make sure plants are well watered before spraying - don't spray them when they're stressed by lack of water..

Spider mites have good and bad years. I havenít heard how they are doing this year, I hope itís bad. Mites are tiny sucking creatures, too small to be seen easily on the leaves. The best way to check for mites is to hold a piece of paper under the leaves of a plant you suspect and shake the leaves a little. If lots of little specks fall on the paper, you've probably got mites. You can spray the underside of the leaves with a strong stream of water from the hose. You need to do this every few days. If this doesnít work you can try a miticide, being sure to soak the underside of leaves. Spider mites are extremely hard to get rid of! .

White flies are another nasty pest. If you see tiny white specks on the underside of your leaves, and they fly up in a cloud when the plant is jostled, you've got white fly. They're difficult to get rid of, but sticky white fly traps will help. You can also spray with insecticidal soaps. Humidity, unfortunately, also helps with outbreaks of powdery mildew on roses, lilacs, phlox and crape myrtles, among other plants. Continue to spray with a rose powdery mildew control.

This year Downy mildew has been a problem for some. Cool wet mornings are the cause. The leaves have large yellow blotches, curl and die. Nothing known to man works. Either cut back to 6" and hope the plant recovers of replace.

A fairly new product that does a great job if you need to use chemicals is Bayer 3 in 1. It acts on contact and then systemically for one month.

Deadhead(remove spent flowers) to tidy up your flowering plants and encourage them to bloom more. Many annuals - such as petunias, cosmos, dianthus, dahlias, zinnias and geraniums - will stop blooming if allowed to go to seed. Others, such as impatiens and flowering vinca, clean themselves and do not need to be deadheaded.

If you've been pinching back your mums throughout the spring, mid-July is the last time to pinch. Flowers will begin to bloom about 5 or 6 weeks after the last pinching. If you haven't been pinching your mums all spring, here's an easy care trick: cut them back by half in early July and fertilize. This will help them to grow bushier and delay bloom until later in the summer.

Cut spiderwort back to the ground when it finishes blooming and looks ugly. It will send up new shoots and bloom again later in the summer. Perennial geraniums also benefit from being cut back when they get leggy. (Do not cut back the big showy annual geraniums; if you're not sure what you have, just ask us!)

Fertilize annuals with a water soluble fertilizer every two weeks unless you added a time release fertilizer to your plantings.

If the heat has caused your annuals to fade, pinch them back and give them several weekly feedings of water soluble fertilizer. I donít know if itís the right thing to do, but I use half strength water soluble fertilizer every time I water and it seems to be working.

Don't let slugs ruin your garden. Treat flower beds, perennial beds, even vegetable gardens with a slug control.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Cover ripening berries with netting to protect your crop from the birds.

Don't let basil or other culinary herbs flower; flowering changes the taste. Pinch back the top leaves to prevent flowering and promote bush plants. Herbs are best harvested in the morning - cut the stems, then strip off the leaves. To dry herbs, hang branches in a cool, dark place.

Herbs such as dill, fennel, cilantro and cress go to seed in hot weather. Plants in part shade may last a little longer. Replant in late summer when the weather begins to cool.

Watch for cabbage worms (velvety green caterpillars) on broccoli and cabbage . Spray or dust with Bt, a bacteria that kills caterpillars but is not toxic to humans or insects. To harvest broccoli, cut the main head with some of the stalk, but leave the rest of the plant and fertilize it. Many varieties produce 'sideshoots' (smaller broccoli heads) well into the summer.

If you find Japanese Beatles on your plants pick them off and put them in a soapy water solution to kill them.

HOUSE PLANTS

Continue to fertilize your houseplants with a water soluble fertilizer for maximum growth over the summer months.

Give potbound houseplants a new home. Remember, only move up one or two pot sizes. Use clean containers and fresh potting soil.

Most houseplants are tropical plants that long for the rainforest. They benefit from summer's humidity, so bring them outside for the summer if you can. Check your houseplants frequently for water when they are outside. They dry out faster than when they are kept inside. And, on the opposite end, make sure they have drainage so that summer showers don't drown them.

When watering Boston ferns or any fern that has a full soft crown (top), lift up the fronds and water from underneath, or submerge the plant in a bucket of water. Otherwise, the weight of the water can easily break down the crown.

Orchids can come outside for the summer in filtered sun or shade. Keep them up off the ground so that slugs and other critters will be less likely to move in. A covered porch which allows them to benefit from the humidity while allowing you to control watering is ideal.

IN THE POND

If you have a pond or water garden, remember to fertilize lilies and lotus twice monthly during the growing season. Don't stress out your fish! Water evaporation rates are high this time of year, so remember to add water if the water level of your pond goes down. Before you add water use a dechlorinator if your water is chlorinated.

For more tips and information go to the Buckeye Yard and Garden Newletter at:

Buckeye Yard and Garden Newletter



Good Luck and Good Gardening To You!

Stu Lewis, Web Master
Hilliard Area Garden Club