In the Garden – July

July is an exciting month in gardening, everything is happening. Take a picture of your garden in June and compare it to the same day in July and you’ll really grasp the change. By the end of the month you’ll be eating tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, and maybe even some corn. Potatoes will be maturing and other root vegetables, like beets and turnips will be ready for harvest.

If you’ve mulched well, then monitoring moisture levels won’t be as critical, but it’s still necessary to ensure enough water has reached the growing root systems of your plants, as tomatoes can slow in production from lack of water or split if overwhelmed. The same is true for other plants at this time. Lettuce planted in the spring may start to taste bitter if left unharvested for long. Cut and come again lettuce is a good choice for the hot days. You may also start to see a number of vegetables bolt when the temperature stays high for extended periods of time.

There’s plenty still to do in the garden:

  1. Later in the month and through August is a good timeframe to start sowing cold loving plants for a fall crop. Beets, turnips, kale, lettuce, carrots and swiss chard are all good options. You can also sown peas at this time. Choose a dwarf variety for better results. Late season potatoes are better for storage and can be planted in July.
  2. There are still a few things to plant in July, including leeks, winter cabbage, endive and strawberries. If you have strawberries already, it’s a good time to separate and replant somewhere else.
  3. Pests are more prominent in July and can really take hold of a garden. You may have to pinch off parts of plants or collect the food destroying bugs. Rot can happen as well, especially to tomatoes if you live in a shorter season area. Pinching off the tops of tomatoes, so that they concentrate on developing the fruit already on the vine is something to consider in late July.
  4. You may need to thin out fruit for better development at this time. Beans may not be setting, so encouragement in dry weather is often needed. Beans will appreciate extra water and runner beans especially will benefit from some light misting around blooming flowers.
  5. In July you’ll often have a glut of one vegetable or another, depending on how the year has gone. It’s time to can and freeze and ready for storage things like onions, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, berries and beans. Black raspberries are ready to be gathered near woodlands, lanes and on the edges of fields. Eat them fresh, in a cobbler or make jellies and jams with them.

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