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JULY: What to Do in the Garden


In the Edible Garden

  • Plant late season vegetables by mid-July. Note the number of “days to harvest” indicated on seed packets. Direct seed beets, beans, collards, cucumbers, summer squash and cabbage.
  • Check out the University of Illinois Extension website, “Common Problems for Vegetable Crops”. Keep cucumbers well watered during dry weather.Watch tomatoes for these common problems: Flowers but No Fruit—Due to high daytime temperatures (above 90 degrees) and nighttime temps above 70 degrees. Large Plants with No Fruit—Possibly caused by too much high-nitrogen fertilizer. Blossom End Rot—A black, leathery scar that occurs on the blossom end of the fruit. The cause is extremes in soil moisture. Control by watering evenly and mulching. Cracked Fruit—Tomatoes crack when rapid growth is brought on by rainy periods following a dry spell. Keep moisture even and mulch.
  • Catface—“Catface” is a fruit deformity, and it appears after periods of uneven temperatures when tomato blossoms stick to developing fruit and cause misshapen ends. Fruits are edible—cut away damaged areas.
  • Tie up tomato vines that may be sprawling. This will help keep fruit off soil that could rot the fruit.
  • The soil has warmed, so now is the time to mulch to keep moisture in and weeds out. Straw does a fine job.
  • Harvest often to keep plants producing more fruits. Watch for wilt in vines such as cucumber. Pull plants out and plant another crop if this occurs.

In the Ornamental Garden

  • Make the last pinch on mums early- to mid-July to allow bud set for fall bloom.
  • Containers may need watering twice a day.Apply a control for grubs in the lawn in July if you have had problems in the past.
  • Water the lawn at least once a week with the equivalent of 1 inch of moisture. You can allow the lawn to go dormant, but give it at least one-half inch of water every two to three weeks to keep it alive. Do not bring your lawn in and out of dormancy.
  • Prune back annuals that may becoming leggy and fertilize with a half-strength liquid fertilizer.
  • Weed beds often. Every weed that sets seed will be producing another round of plants both this year and several years to come.
  • Watch for sales at garden centers to increase your collection of perennials. You may not get flowers this season but by planting now, roots will settle and be ready for winter and next year’s season.

In the Indoor Garden

  • Guard plants that are placed in west-facing windows. The hot summer sun can affect leaves of tropical plants that grow in dense understory in nature. Move the plants a few feet from windows or to the side where direct sun does not reach. Curtains or sheers can also cut down the glare.
  • Lift plants regularly to make sure insects are not being harbored under pots or saucers. Many pests can find their way into interior spaces from the outdoors at this time of year.
  • If you didn’t do so this spring, repot plants that need larger places to grow. Move root-bound plants to a larger pot, but not an overly large differential.

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questions

I have lost four 12-15 foot tall white pine trees over the last year. All had the same symptoms, browning needles at the bottom that continued up to the top. Can you tell me what pest is killing the white pines? I am also losing an Austrian pine now. It is experiencing the same symptoms.

I keep seeing photos of interesting plants I’d like to grow, but they’re labeled zone 6 and I’m in zone 5. What can I do to successfully overwinter these marginal plants? I’d like to try them, but I don’t want to waste my money.

I have a dampish area with poor grass and moss that I would like to change to ground cover, but if I have only one plant, won’t it be boring? Can I get rid of the grass in winter or early spring?

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