July 2013 Fox Island Garden Tips of the month

From Master Gardener and Fox Island Resident, Linda Dodds:

Gardening season is really at it’s best in July’s garden.  Hanging baskets are full of blooms and they will soon need constant deadheading to keep them looking fresh. If you have not done so within the last few weeks, it is worthwhile to give them a good shot of Alaska fish fertilizer to keep them satisfied. And while you are waiting for their blooms to dry up and be deadheaded, you can always start in on cleaning up and deadheading your Rhody’s spent flowers and pinching back new growth to keep them from outgrowing their quarters.  Roses need to also be cleaned up to help them with a second blooming.  Clematis is winding it’s way up trellises and blooming like crazy.  Dahlias are starting to bloom this month while jasmine is in full sensuous blossoms.

Early spring planted vegetables may be starting to go to seed, so pull them out and compost them and replace them with starts for you upcoming fall and winter plantings.  Beets, cabbage, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce can be planted now for fall and winter harvest as well as Swiss chard and greens.  A good side dressing of compost will be greatly appreciated by your tomato plants, corn and cucumbers as they start forming and ripening their fruit.  Zucchini and beans are starting to produce so be out daily picking newly ready produce while they are still fresh and tender.  Beans and beets can still be planted from seed to fill in empty spots left in the garden from pulled out spent early spring plantings.  If you find your basil starts to go to seed in the heat, pinch back the tops to keep them putting out new leaves.  Never let basil go to seed as once it does, it gets bitter.  When onions and garlic bloom, bend over and start to dry up, it’s time to dig them up.  Rinse them well and then let sit in the sun to dry well before storing.

Water all your garden infrequently, but water deeply a few times a week instead of daily.  Shallow daily watering only encourages roots to stay shallow but less frequent deep watering encourages roots to grow down deep which in case of a drought will give your plants a better chance of survival.

It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how dry and abused your garden may be, weeds always seem to flourish under any circumstance.  Take time to keep your garden as weed free as possible. Your water, fertilizer and compost will not be wasted on the weeds but will nourish your garden plants that you really want to survive.  Mulch will help smother weed seeds and help keep the moisture in the soil to be used by ornamental and vegetables instead.

There’s no need to hit the gym in the summer as one can get a lot of exercise by keeping the garden neat and tidy by weeding, mulching, trimming, harvesting produce and cutting bouquets of flowers for your home.  Enjoy!

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