Depending on where you live, July is often the warmest month of the year and everything that you've planted starts looking productive. There really are tomatoes on the tomato plants albeit a bit hard and green. Colorful flowers, from dainty sweet peas to aromatic lavenders, are in full bloom so working in the garden is often a pleasure.
To prolong the vitality of your garden from now until fall as well as get a jump start on next year, the following tips can help.
This month is a great time to start next year's perennials.
Cutting flowers not only brings the outside in, but encourages healthy plant growth. Water the evening before, then cut early in the morning for the freshest blooms. Keep flowers in cold water for a couple hours before arranging. To prolong life, recut stems, use a cut-flower preservative, and remove all leaves below the waterline. If you are gone during the day, put your floral arrangements in a cool room out of direct light, then put them back in the evening where you can enjoy them. And don't forget to change the water every day.
In addition to making sure they are kept evenly moist, fertilize container plantings to keep them attractive every couple weeks. Once a week, take baskets down and set them to soak thoroughly in a bucket or small tub.
When the weather gets hot and plants get stressed, you'll see black ants and aphids arrive. You can get any number of treatments at the nursery, but dishwater works just as well. Once the aphids leave, so will the ants.
Little red spiders can be sprayed off plants with a fine spray from the hose.
To prevent plant stress, make sure they get plenty of water with good deep waterings twice a week, freshened compost, compost tea, or fertilizer every few weeks, and additional mulch as needed.
Ask a neighbor or friend to do minimal maintenance on your garden. Even if you have a sprinkler system and a timer, it's a good idea to have someone make sure it's working properly as well as lightly deadheading and trimming to keep your garden looking neat. Also, an unkempt garden with flyers on the door is a sign that nobody's home...a sure temptation to thieves.
With some of the blooming successes in your garden, a trellis or arbor might be the perfect solution for plants that need extra support or a vertical path. Installing it this year might be problematic, but it's a good time to make a plan and be ready to begin construction later in the fall or early next spring.
Kill weeds that start to erupt between stones, bricks, or along gravel paths. Boiling water strategically poured is very effective at parboiling the vegetation and precludes the need for toxins. Some people use salt water but that seems a bad idea if you are inclined to reorganize and move stuff around because it can wreck the soil.
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