Gardeners Calendar: To Do in July

by Gary Crispell, EMGV

And June is gone. I trust you didn’t miss celebrating the solstice. There are some ancient traditions out there that bear repeating.

Now it is July. Time to set the automatic drip irrigation and go to the beach. Let the neighbors harvest the veggies for a week (or month) and kick back. Yeah, yeah I know. The weeds. Well, they’re going to be there anyway. Pull ‘em in August. Okay, here are the things you need to be aware of this month.

Lawn Care
Hopefully you fertilized your warm season grasses in June. However, if you procrastinated now (as in this week) would be propitious. When mowing those grasses remove 1/3 of the growth per mowing. To promote root strength of all lawn grasses and overall aesthetics change directions each time.

Continue to side dress the vegetable garden.

July is your last chance to fertilize trees and shrubs.

Those Brussels sprouts and collards you started last month should be ready to set out by mid-July.

Get a jump on your fall garden by sowing beans, carrots, and pumpkins. If you are optimistic about a warm fall you may also set out tomato plants.

This is also a great time to repot any overgrown house plants.

Trees that bleed readily (e.g. maples, dogwoods, elms and birches) can be pruned in July.

Prune out die-back from rhododendron species. Sterilize the pruners between cuts.

Cut back to the ground any fruiting canes of blackberries and raspberries post-harvest.

Prune hedges as necessary.

Narrow leaf evergreens can be pruned early in the month.

Pruning spent blossoms from crape myrtles and perennials will promote a second blooming.

Cease pruning spring blooming shrubs. Pruning now will most likely remove next year’s flower buds.

Pinch your mums (chrysanthemums that is) one last time the first week of July.

What to watch for:  lace bugs on azaleas, pyracantha and pieris, bagworms on flat needle evergreens (arborvitae, Leyland cypress, etc.), white flies on several species (they are especially fond of my lantana and hibiscus), spider mites on any plant under stress and aphids on everything.

It is prime Japanese beetle season.

Continue your rose program as well as fruit trees (many of which are members of the rose family) and bunch grapes.

Vegetable garden pests that can ruin your day now include cucumber beetles (guess where), flea beetles on beans and eggplants, and the ubiquitous aphids.

Watch for blight on tomatoes. Treat with appropriate fungicide.

July is a good time to treat poison ivy (oak), honeysuckle and kudzu with the appropriate herbicide.

Remember to spray wisely—never too much, always only when necessary and ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.

July is a really good time to take semi-hardwood cuttings of azalea, other rhododendron species, camellia, holly and many other spring blooming shrubs.

Other Stuff You Can Do if You Don’t Have a Pool and a Good Book and Access to Adult Beverages
Check your landscape plan (You DO have a landscape plan, don’t you?) to see if it needs tweaking.

If you have fruit trees that didn’t bear this year they can be pruned as if they were dormant. This will help prepare them for next year (or maybe it will scare them into performing next year).

Prune any storm damage.

Blossom end rot on tomatoes is caused by erratic watering–they really prefer not to get too dry — and low pH solved by adding lime. The lime won’t help this year as it takes four to six months for it to break down into a form usable by plants. There are calcium salt sprays available as a stopgap measure for this year. So, you can solve the water problem immediately, but the solution to the pH problem should involve a FREE soil test.

Giving your plant a long slow soak a couple of times a week is a much better method than 5 or 10 minutes per day.  It will help them develop deeper root systems.