By: Shelby Baker – Communications Intern
With the summer heat rolling in and temperatures on the rise, gardeners might be spending more time indoors celebrating good harvests and less time in the garden working on chores. Although July begins peak harvest season, for a bounty of fresh produce, this is the time of year when gardens and lawns need the most attention. In this hot weather, simple things that may need to be taken care of can be forgotten easily. Here’s a list of chores that you could do this month to uphold appearance and health.
Potted or hanging plants are lovely additions to have in and around the home. However, without proper grooming plants can start to look more like a jungle and less like house plants. If left unattended, plant roots and stems may become ungainly. This can be handled with some light grooming. To trim your potted or hanging plants simply cut the plant stem just above the leaf nodes. For those who are first time plant groomers, the leaf node is the slight swelling on the stem where leaves emerge. This quick fix can leave your plants looking well groomed and less vine-like.
Removing weeds can be a boring task, but it needs to be done. By eliminating weeds from your garden and lawn, you are removing potential invasions that may spring up later. Remove weeds by pulling them out while they are young. Doing this might prevent an outbreak, which can be harder to maintain and cost some money.
Get a Handle on Insects
Insects are not only gross to look at, but they also tend to wreak havoc on both ornamental and food plants as well. One of the most common insects known to gardeners, the Japanese Beetle, destructively chews plant leaves and can leave your garden looking holey. The most efficient way to get rid of these pesky critters is not with pesticides or traps but with your own two hands. Hand-pick beetles and other insects off your plants and toss them into a container of soapy water. Although this sounds unpleasant, it’s the most effective way to make sure that insects won’t come back to your garden and bring friends.
Shape the Shrubs
As a result of the warm weather and rain this time of year, your yard may be revealing how disheveled the plants and shrubs are. Take time out to prune your shrubs up and get your yard looking well-maintained again. Pruning is done by trimming the longest shoots from the shrub and shearing down shoots to the shrubs natural form. Pruning shrubs now, protects them from becoming damaged by winter weather.
Growing your own food can be exciting. However, just like ornamental plants your food plants need to be taken care of as well. Suckers are shoots that grow on tomato plants between a leaf and the main stem. If they are not properly maintained they can grow and suck nutrients the main stem needs to survive. These little suckers can be removed by pinching off the tip, or breaking the whole thing off the main stem at the base. Evade damaged tomato plants by maintaining suckers on a weekly basis.
Seed Fall Crops
Other vegetable plants might not need to be maintained as often but a little preparation may allow them to mature longer. Crops such as, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and beans can be planted as early as mid July, allowing them to mature as cooler fall temperatures set in. You may even want to take it a step further and begin by planting the crops indoors. Starting your crops off indoors might sound odd but you’ll have a better opportunity to control conditions the plant experiences, while it’s young.
Plants are not the only thing that needs taken care of this time of year. Make sure to monitor your lawn for diseases that could be deadly to grass. Diseases such as brown patches, rust or slime molds are non-deadly and common in lawns. Other diseases, such as dollar spot, are deadly and can cause lawns to look discolored in numerous spots roughly two to three inches across. Dollar spot can be controlled by adding nitrogen to the grass and mowing regularly. Avoid getting turf diseases by mowing regularly and allowing it to receive the right amounts of nutrients.
Even though you might be inside avoiding the heat, your garden and lawn need attention. Routinely do maintenance and keep up on weekly chores. This could keep lawns and gardens in top shape and even produce a great harvest. Remember that although July is peak harvest season, planting early can bring great produce in the fall as well. Adding a few of these maintenance tips to your weekly list of chores will make your summer a breeze! A little bit of love goes a long way!