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Tips for July

July Color!


July is a time when you can sit back for a moment and enjoy the fruits of your labor in the garden. Primary concern will be assuring ample supply of water for your plants.  Amount of water depends on the weather. Primary rule of summer watering is water thoroughly and deeply each time you water. Allow the soil to dry between watering.

Deep watering will allow the plant’s roots to grow deeper, where they are less likely to dry out, as well as the added benefit of anchoring the plant better. Light surface watering actually wastes water because the water never actually reaches the root zone of the plant, and moisture rapidly evaporates from the top inch of soil.

The best way to tell if your plants are receiving enough water is to take a trowel or shovel and dig down a few inches. The soil should be moist at least 4 to 6 inches deep to ensure the moisture is reaching the root zone. Of course if you planted drought-resistant plants you will not have to water as often, but the principle of deep watering still applies.

Watering Containers
As the weather dries out, your container plants may need daily watering. Push your finger into the soil in your container plantings at least once a day to feel for moisture and be certain that plants are getting enough water. Apply water until it runs out of the drainage holes.

When to Water
Try to do your watering during the morning hours so that the leaves can dry off before the hot sun hits them. Evening watering is sometimes acceptable if the temperatures are warm enough to ensure that foliage dries before the temperature drops at night. (Wet foliage makes plants susceptible to fungus and disease.)

In the Veg Garden
Empty areas of the garden, where crops have finished, should be replanted with either a fall vegetable crop, or a cover crop to help control weeds. Cover crops can be tilled into the soil later, to add humus and nitrates to the soil.

Contrary to popular belief, a brown lawn isn’t necessarily a dead lawn. Grasses go dormant in times of drought, but will quickly return to life with the fall rains and cooler temperatures.

Remember to mow cool season grasses at the 3 to 3 ½ inch height or as high as your mower will cut. This helps to retain moisture and cool the roots of these grasses. (Warm season grass like Zoysia is cut at the 2 inch height and will be green throughout the summer.)

Remember to change the water in the bird baths regularly, and keep them filled.  Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.

Be alert for slug and snail damage. These guys will be hiding during the heat of the day, but will come out of hiding in the cool mornings and evening hours or after a rain. Seek and destroy all slugs and their eggs! Use Sluggo for best control.

Final Word
As always gardening is as fun as you want it to be, so enjoy your time in the garden.

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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