Tuesday’s Tips — July Gardening

It’s getting really hot pretty much everywhere, so we’re going to focus on keeping your plants well-watered. Plants transpire (evaporate) water vapor through tiny holes on their leaves — mostly on the underside. This helps to cool the plant and draws nutrients from the soil and roots to the upper parts of the plant. On hot or dry, windy days plants can lose a lot of water, sometimes faster than they can take it up, and that can stress them making them more vulnerable to insects and disease.

  • When the temps get into the 90’s and above you may need to water your plants twice a day — early morning and late evening.
  • Container plants are especially vulnerable in this hot dry weather. Check for wilting.
  • Some wilting can be normal for certain plants, but if they look really droopy and the soil is dry don’t wait, water right away.
  • Check newly planted trees and shrubs. Keep them well watered — deep watering is best.
  • Water deeply in advance of hot Santa Ana winds. Don’t wait for it to start blowing.
  • A good layer of mulch, 2 -3 inches, will keep plant roots cool and will cut down on evaporation.
  • Make sure bird baths are clean and have plenty of fresh water
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water while you’re out in the garden — heat exhaustion and heat stroke are no fun.

Garden pests are hard at work this month so stay on top of it.

  • Keep aphids under control by knocking them off with a spray water from the hose.
  • You can try the same for whiteflies and be sure to wash off the sticky honeydew too.
  • Watch for tomato hornworms, they’ll be chomping on your tomatoes this month. They’re hard to see; look for their frass (poop). Click for a pic.
  • Keep an eye out for ladybug larvae which have a voracious appetite for aphids. Protect them and let them do the work for you.
Ladybug larva. It looks scary, but it's one of the beneficial insects you'll be happy to have in your garden.

It’s time to divide your Iris. Lift the clump up with garden fork, snap off leaf fans with about 3 inches of the rhizome attached. Trim leaf fans back to 5 inches tall and replant them in soil amended with compost. Water well.

Garlic scapes should be popped off when they are in a full curl, but don’t throw them away!

Chop scapes up and saute them in olive oil and serve over pasta. They’re really good in scrambled eggs too.

Keep an eye on your garlic for signs that the bulbs are ready to harvest. When the bottom 3 or 4 leaves start turning brown it will be time to lift the bulbs and cure them. Depending on the variety of garlic this should start near the end of July into August.

Treat yourself to a bouquet of flowers to enjoy indoors — that is why you grow them right? I love scattering a few small vases filled with flowers through the house.

And finally, start plans for your fall vegetable garden.

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