In a month that should be filled with road trips, hikes, and swimming holes, it can feel daunting to get much of anything done off of our July garden chores list. We are busier than ever this year squeezing in another baby shower and a much needed vacation. Soaking up the summer isn’t the only thing that is limiting us in the garden, the sweltering heat and humidity take their turns too. Looking back on last July in the garden, it’s really amazing how different a year can be. Because it has been extra hot and humid early in summer, it’s been tough getting motivated to knock out any of our to-dos. Trying to avoid the worst heat of the day keeps us working in the mornings and evenings mainly. Luckily, the harvest is starting to pour in, which happens to be one of my favorite July garden chores.
In between the hustle and bustle of the summer, don’t forget to take some time to enjoy your garden. All that hard work in the early part of the year should be paying dividends now. As it is the peak of the season, take some tours of other people’s gardens. There’s no better way to get inspired and learn than by seeing what others have going on in their gardens.
Water like crazy and battle the pests
Keep up the watering.
Keep your gardens watered well between rains. Use a rain gauge to make sure that your gardens are getting at least an inch of water a week. Soak plants deeply to reach more of the root zone.
Don’t forget about your compost. With the hot weather, compost piles tend to dry out quicker. Be sure to check the moisture levels at least weekly to ensure that everything is moist and breaking down.
Fight off those pests and diseases.
The worst of the pests and diseases seem to arrive this month. Be vigilant and fight back. Handpick Japanese beetles, tomato hornworms, snails, slugs, cabbage worms, and other common pests. Drown them in a jar of soapy water. Treat bad infestations with natural measures such as introducing beneficial insects or using organic pesticides such as neem oil or diatomaceous earth.
Dive into the harvest
The flavors of summer are flooding our kitchen during July. Cucumbers and tomatoes are coming in all the time and will soon be followed by okra. Take your daily garden stroll picking as you go.
Cut back herbs
Harvest herbs now while their flavor is at its peak. Basil, mint, and oregano can be all be cut back. Remove no more than half of the plant. This will help discourage them from flowering and going to seed giving you more to harvest. Plus, it can help keep overeager plants from completely taking over a garden. Dry out the extra herbs for great flavors year-round.
Plant the last summer garden additions
Any seedlings lingering that have not been planted should be planted as soon as you can. Thanks to a persistent rabbit and a sudden invasion of squash beetle, we have one nearly empty garden bed. Since there is no time left to start from seed, I am breaking down and purchasing plants this month. The sooner you get your plants in the better, but try to pick times to plant when the temperatures are not blazing hot.
Make sure everyone is supported
Train your tomatoes
By this time in the year, tomatoes are growing rampant. If you have not already, get your tomatoes trained. Ours are quickly outgrowing the levels of our Florida weave, so we will continue to add more levels and keep them well trained as they get taller and taller. We will never complain about too many tomatoes.
Support your fruit too
Fruit trees can become heavy with fruit as the summer goes on. Don’t let their branches break under the strain. Prop up the branches with poles or thin out the fruit as necessary.
Watch your brambles as well. They can get a little wild and crazy with new growth in the blink of an eye, so keep their canes supported. Prune out canes that are growing where they shouldn’t be like right in the middle of a pathway.
Weed and Feed
Keep weeding the gardens.
It’s all about competition now. By July, space and water are the limiting factors in most gardens. One of the constant July garden chores is plucking though pesky weeds before they start out competing the plants you want.
Keep feeding herbaceous vegetables and flowers.
Add an extra layer of compost to plants in the garden for an extra boost. Side dress with dry organic fertilizers as needed. Plants in pots need a little extra attention. Give them a regular feeding as their root systems are constricted.
Hold off on feeding woody plants.
Delicate new growth on woody trees and shrubs needs time to harden off and toughen up for the coming winter. Wait until later winter or early spring to start fertilizing again.
Get your fall garden started
Sow seeds for a late summer harvest.
Carrots, beets, dill, and basil can all be sown. Keep sowing dill to make those late season pickles. Basil will slow down after flowering, so sow additional basil to keep a continuous harvest.
Sow seeds for a fall and winter harvest.
Brussels sprout, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards kale, leeks, peas, radish can all be sown in July. They can be sown directly into the garden or in trays for transplanting when space opens up after the summer harvest. Out of all the July garden chores, this pays off the most stretching your harvest out as long as possible