Friday, July 10, 2009

July Garden Tips

Hard to believe we are already well into July. Luckily, this mild summer has meant we can stay out working in the garden later than normal. Below are some tips inspired by the Better Homes and Gardens website.

* As the weather gets warmer, schedule your gardening for early morning and late afternoon when the air is cooler and the sun not so intense. Keep in mind too that pruning and planting in extreme heat can stress plants out and damage or even kill them; in the midst of an intense heatwave, hold off on gardening. Otherwise, in the summer, I find it best to do pruning either in early AM hours, or even better, in the evening ahead of of a cool(er) night.

* Deadheading 101 -- Keep deadheading. For the most flowers and tidiest garden, deadhead daily. Some gardeners take a few minutes each morning, making it part of their daily routine.

* Keep up with watering chores. While you're at it, give your trees, shrubs, and perennials an occasional hosing down from top to bottom to wash off dust and pests.

* Keep new plantings well-watered. As we always tell our customers, even your natives and drought tolerant plants need to be watered until they are well established. Any plant in a container needs to be checked regularly in hot weather.

* When annuals or perennials get leggy or scraggly, consider cutting them back by one-third or more. With some plants, this not only makes them look neater, but it also often encourages a fresh flush of growth and/or bloom. We are a big believer in 'hacking away' here at Johnnye Merles! It's always a little scary, but in most cases, pruning back always makes your garden come back nice and full. Remember though, again, watch weather conditions before doing so. You have a few more weeks from now to still get away with it, but once August comes along, I'd hold off till cooler fall months.

* Fertilize any acid-loving plants and any that may be showing an iron deficiency; for example, young leaves may appear yellow-green with dark green leaves. Acid-loving plants include azaleas, gardenias blueberries, and camellias. Fertilize containers. Constant watering flushes out nutrients. Fertilizing does NOT have to mean scary looking colored powders - you can fertilize organically; we'll post a whole article on that soon, but to get started, check out these resources:

* Harvesting Vegetables -- Keep up with the harvest from your vegetable garden. Be sure to pick small and often. Tiny filet green beans, for example, need picking daily. And be sure to remove rotting or diseased produce from the garden. They act as disease magnets. Harvest veggies to keep them producing, same as when you dead head flowers!

* Plant late-summer flowering annuals and perennials, as well as heat-loving tropical and sub-tropical plants. You can still plant veggies and herbs too! The beauty of SoCal gardening is that it is year round!

* Enjoy! One of my favorite things to do is sit down on one of our (nearly rotted...) benches in the nursery after working a full day and just take in all the awesome plants, bugs, and lately, even cats that our nursery has! I love watering for that same reason - it's my time to zone out and notice what's blooming, what's growing, etc. I even discovered a huge nest of baby grasshoppers the other day! Have you ever seen baby grasshoppers? They are super tiny and bright green and jump all over the place if you water them on accident - I had no idea! Point is, the whole idea of a garden is to relax, learn, and enjoy, so take the time in the summer months to do it.

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