July Gardening Tips for the Pacific Northwest
The frantic work of spring is over and now it's time to focus on enjoying your garden's bounty.
Watch for Garden Problems
Keep an eye out for pests, diseases, and other garden problems. All can multiply rapidly in summer heat.
Blossom end rot in tomatoes (shown at right) is caused by calcium deficiency that's aggravated by inconsistent soil moisture -- alternating moist and dry conditions. Defeat the problem by mulching plants and keeping soil consistently moist.
Set traps to catch adult apply maggot flies. An organic treatment for codling moth larvae and apple maggots is spinosad, which is made from soil bacteria.
The best control for hollyhock rust is keeping a clean garden. Remove and destroy affected leaves -- don't compost them.
Apply slug bait for slugs and snails in shady areas of the garden. Increase success rates by sprinkling bait under stones, near foundations or sheds, and along path edges.
Spider mites can quickly overtake plants when weather is hot and dry. Quick, daily sprays of water on shrubs can keep populations under control.
July Garden Chores
Tackle weeds after rain when soil is softer. This makes easier work of pulling tap-rooted weeds, such as dandelions. When the sun promises to shine all afternoon, chop young weeds with a garden hoe, letting them lie in place. The sun will kill shoots by evening.
Divide bearded iris after leaves turn brown. Trim leaves before digging and dividing rhizomes. Let rhizomes dry in a shady spot for a few days. Weed beds before replanting.
Harvest herbs frequently, cutting fresh growth on plants. To dry herbs in a warm, dry spot, bundle stems and hang upside down, or spread leaves in a single layer in a basket or on screens.
Take time to remove suckers from pear and apple trees when you spot them. Suckers are non-productive stems that grow vertically from horizontal branches. Rub out young ones with your fingers; snip larger ones with shears.
Refresh mulch around trees, shrubs, and perennials to reduce weeds and slow water evaporation from soil. Aim for a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer.
Keep new plantings well-watered, but this time of year, pay attention to other parts of the landscape, too. Container plantings can need watering as often as twice a day in hot, windy weather. Lawns need about an inch of water a week.
Keep deadheading! For the most flowers and tidiest garden, deadhead daily. Some gardeners take a few minutes each morning, making it part of their daily routine.
Many plants benefit from a midsummer feeding. After adding dry fertilizer to soil, water slowly, soaking soil.
Give vegetables a mid-season feeding by scratching slow-release fertilizer into soil beside plants.
Add compost or rotted cow manure to rhubarb and asparagus beds.
Fertilize June-bearing strawberries after harvest with 1 pound of a 10-10-10 type product per 50 square feet. Feed ever-bearing strawberries early in the month at half that rate.
Feed flowering annuals in containers with a liquid bloom booster fertilizer every 10 to 14 days. Use the same technique on potted fuchsias.
Fertilize houseplants spending the summer outdoors. Apply a liquid fertilizer monthly.
Do not fertilize trees or shrubs -- including fruit trees -- after mid-month to avoid causing new growth that won¿t harden off before winter.
Fertilize mums every three weeks until flower buds are colored.