"Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world."
~ Ada Louise Huxtable
The slow trickle of sweat down the back of your neck, a panting dog sprawled out on the floor, the buzz of cicadas in trees, and the sweet satisfaction an ice cream cone gives after working in the garden. Yep, the heat and humidity of summer is in full swing. July is a time to sit back and enjoy the splendor of all the hard work you accomplished in May and June. Your main garden tasks include harvesting ripe vegetables, cutting flowers for your kitchen table, and basking in the beauty of your garden. Pour yourself another glass of lemonade, grab your favorite book, and relax on the porch. After all, it is summer.
Our Favorite Fireworks
Lightning bugs have been glowing every evening creating a wonderful magical light show. However, did you realize that lightning bugs are not actually bugs? Fireflies, their other common name, is inaccurate as well. The glowing insects are actually beetles. The National Wildlife Federation has a lovely article with photos explaining the iconic summer creature.
Gardening in July
The Annual Garden
Continue to check your plants daily for insects and disease.
Pluck and destroy easy to snatch bugs.
Water regularly. The easiest way to know if you need to water is by using the finger test. Stick a finger a couple of inches in the soil, if the soil is moist do not water, if the soil is dry water the plant (until water drains through the drainage holes if it is in a pot).
Remove spent blooms to encourage faster growth and new blooms.
If your plant begins to look spindly and leggy give it a haircut. Cut the long thing growth off and let the plant regrow.
The Perennial Garden
Continue to check your plants regularly for insects and disease.
Keep an eye out for Japanese beetles. They are easy to pick off plants and squish or drown in a bucket of soapy water.
Most plants perform best with 1 inch of water per week. Pay attention to the weather, if it has been dry and hot for a couple of days check your garden to see if any plants need a drink. Newly planted plants are more likely to need a drink if they are not yet established. Less frequent deeper waterings are more beneficial than frequent quick waterings. Avoid wetting the foliage of plants or water early in the day to allow foliage to dry before the sun sets.
Freshen up garden beds with mulch. Mulch helps control weeds and retain moisture.
Stake any plants that have the tendency to droop when blooming.
If you prefer a clean and tidy garden, deadhead spent blooms or leave the dried blooms for the birds and visual interest.
Stop pinching mums back by early July if you want to ensure you'll have fall blooms.
The Vegetable Garden
Inspect the vegetable garden daily for weeds, insects, and disease.
If you find any unwelcome guests the quickest and simplest way to remove them is to pick them off plants with your fingers and drop them in a bucket of soapy water or use a strong stream of water to knock them off the plant.
Mulch will help to keep weeds at a minimum, which in turn reduces the likelihood of insects and disease.
Water earlier in the day, if possible, to allow foliage to dry before dark.
Stake and train indeterminate vegetables, such as tomatoes. If you have several tomato plants in a row using a trellising system to support your plants is an easy and economical option. "How to Grow Your Own Tomatoes, Part 3: Staking, Training, and Pruning" by Brian Barth of Modern Farmer offers a great how to on creating a cat's cradle for your tomatoes.
Harvest fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables!
Savor the Spoils of Summer
Take advantage of your garden and local farmer's markets to enjoy fresh seasonable food.
It is hot. Too hot to turn on the stove and there is no way you are going to turn on the oven. Something light and crisp, but also sweet and tangy sounds wonderful. Sounds like it is time for a salad, one that can appreciate how hot and sticky it is outside. We found just the salad for you.
Nectarine, Tomato, and Basil with Torn Mozzarella by Diana Henry is an easy and delicious salad that is perfect for the lovely hot summer evenings we enjoy.
"That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
And the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow