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What to do in July; Nurturing a Crop & Preparing the Next

Jun 28, 2017

Gardeners might now like to rest on their hoes and survey their spring planting according to the Home & Garden section of the New York Times, which they might view with either awe or misgivings. If their planning has been good, gardeners should be reaping a bountiful harvest or cutting a constant parade of blooms.
Yet some misgivings reveal a time of frustration. Insects and diseases can take over and the efforts of spring are too soon dashed. To get the upper hand, maintain vigilance. Visit the garden often. Destroy insects when seen and make life difficult for them without resorting to pesticides.
To clean off spider mites from the backs of leaves, use a stiff shower of water from the hose. Pick caterpillars by hand and squash them underfoot. Hunt slugs at night with a flashlight and drop them into a coffee can of heavily salted water. If handling slugs is difficult, sprinkle salt on their backs. Prune overhanging tree limbs and thin too-thick shrubbery to provide good air circulation and discourage fungus diseases. If sprays must be used, consider the insecticidal soap spray on the market or mix your own: one teaspoonful of liquid soap to one quart of water.
Other July Chores
The foliage of daffodils is slow to become yellow and brown - but now is the time either to pull it off carefully or cut it to the ground. But only cuting will do for the browned leaves of late tulips; pulling them may lift the bulbs as well.
July is a good month to take cuttings of softwood. Use pruning shears to cut off two- to six-inch stems of azaleas and rhododendrons, beauty-berries, hollies, magnolias, maples, viburnums, weigelas and ground covers such as pachysandra, myrtle and pachistima.
Pinch off the bottom leaves but allow the top half to remain. Dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone and set them in a dampened commercial rooting mixture or mix equal parts of peat moss and sand. Be sure the rooting medium is tightly packed in a flat or in pots, make a hole with a stick or pencil and pack the cuttings in firmly. Water them in. Cover the flat or pots with polyethylene and set them in a cool shaded place outdoors.
Cuttings should root in a month or more. Pot them individually in soil and set them in a cold frame or nursery bed. Protect them carefully over the winter.
July is also a good month to sow fresh seed of delphiniums, larkspur, pansies, Canterbury bells, sweet william, hollyhocks and foxgloves. Individual kinds can be sown in separate pots or they can be planted in nursery beds in the garden. Be sure to label rows. In September, after the plants have several sets of true leaves, the biennial seedlings can be set permanently in the garden.
Fruit trees should be thinned if the boughs are too heavily with young fruit. The excess can be pinched off or cut off with pruning shears. Also, spray schedules must be maintained to keep the fruit free of disease and pests.
It is not too early to study bulb catalogues and plan next spring's garden. The bulbs will not be shipped until fall, but early orders usually get first choice.
Keep the vegetable garden productive. Where spinach and lettuce grew, plant New Zealand spinach and Swiss chard. When pea vines are pulled out, plant beans. Set out lettuce seedlings where the radishes grew. Buy seed packets now to start seed indoors next month of broccoli, cabbage and kale. Seedlings will be set out in August.

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