Gardening Tips for July

  • If you have a newly planted jewel beyond the reach of the water hose, fill an empty milk jug with water, poke a small hole in the bottom, and put the cap back on. Place this portable drip irrigator next to the pant. The slight vacuum created by the closed container will cause the water to slowly drain out and thoroughly soak the immediate area around the plant.
  • Drought isn’t the only culprit of those brown patches on the lawn. Push a shovel into the top few inches of the afflicted area, and turn it over. If you find fat, white worms, grubs have been gorging themselves on grass roots.
  • Pick vegetables, such as beans, okra, squash, and tomatoes, on a regular basis to encourage the plants to produce more.
  • Unless you want to harvest rose hips later, keep the spent blooms pruned off to prevent energy going into hip production at the expense of the flowers.
  • If hot weather is melting holes in the flower border, replant with heat-loving annuals, such as asters, celosias, marigolds, periwinkle, portulaca, salvias, and zinnias.
  • Whether it is a new lawn or an established one, if you have to water it due to a lack of rain, be sure to water it thoroughly to encourage deeper root penetration into the soil. Place a small can in the area of the yard to be watered, and leave the sprinkler on until an inch of water collects in the can.
  • Pick the lower suckers on tomatoes to prevent the plants from wasting energy on unnecessary foliage production.
  • Halloween pumpkins, anyone? Seeds started outdoors early this month should mature just in time for October jack-o’-lanterns.
  • Place compost around plants to add nutrients to the garden, conserve ground moisture, and help keep weeds in check.
  • Many herbs should be maturing this month. The best time to harvest them for peak flavor and scent is early in the morning before the heat of the day.
  • Keep roses looking pretty by pruning dead and diseased branches and leaves.
  • If you don’t use soaker hoses, water plants early in the morning, so foliage will dry quickly in the summer sun, staving off diseases.
  • Established stands of Bermuda grass and St. Augustine can be planted this month to refurbish a worn lawn.
  • Cut the lawn only when it’s dry, not wet. This will prevent turf injury and lessen the spread of diseases.
  • Have you changed the water in the birdbath this week? Your feathered friends need water, clean water is very important.
  • Make sure to work early in the morning and late in the day to avoid getting overheated, and to keep plants looking their best and vegetables producing to their full potential.
For 20 years, L.A. Jackson contributed gardening stories and tips to Our State magazine. These tips come from the Tar Heel gardening archives.

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