It's a red, hot and blue Fourth of July—celebrate with lemonade, barbecue and fireworks! Celebrate the fruits of your labor this month by harvesting tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and herbs grown in your own backyard.
➤ Hot and dry is usually the forecast for July. Be a Water Smart Georgia gardener—go to www.urbanagcouncil.com for current water restrictions.
➤ Water your trees and ornamental shrubs if you notice leaves starting to droop and fold; this is a good indicator that the plant is under stress and it is time to irrigate. Deep watering early in the morning encourages roots to grow deeply and strongly. Use a soaker hose to reduce water waste and prevent disease problems by keeping the foliage dry.
➤ Collect excess water from indoors to water your plants. Put a bucket in every shower to collect the water while it warms up; empty the pet’s water bowl into a window box or planter; empty dehumidifier water into the garden. Leave a bucket in the sink to collect half-full glasses of drinking water, and take it outdoors in the evening to water your tomatoes.
➤ Feed roses after each bloom cycle, water regularly and remove spent flowers.
➤ Feed blooming annuals at least monthly to keep them producing flowers.
➤ To encourage more flowers, cut off developing seed heads from coreopsis cosmos, dahlias, marigolds, rudbeckia and zinnias.
➤ If the heat has gotten to your summer annuals, revive them by cutting them back to half of the height. Fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer, and add a fresh layer of mulch. If they look too bedraggled, send them to the compost bin and replace with heat- and drought-tolerant annuals or perennials.
➤ Feed potted plants twice a month with half-strength liquid fertilizer like 20-20-20 or less often with a controlled-release pelleted fertilizer.
➤ Dollar-spot is a common lawn disease in July. To combat, adjust your lawn maintenance practices before reaching for a fungicide. Aerate and dethatch your lawn; make sure that you are mowing often and at the correct height; water early in the day, once a week for a longer period of time. These alone will probably solve your problems.
➤ Sod bermuda, St. Augustine and zoysia lawns this month (common bermuda can be seeded also); bermuda and St. Augustine can be fertilized in July. Water regularly and consistently for root development. Don’t fertilize fescue until fall.
➤ Fleas and ticks bugging you and your pets? Treat both the animals and your yard for best results. Check with your veterinarian for oral and liquid medications for your cats and dogs—treat your yard and other outdoor areas with Triazicide or Sevin.
➤ Spider mites are one of the pests that thrive in hot, dry weather! Inspect your plants often for signs of these and other bugs. Many can be controlled by a blast of water from your hose—check with your local extension service or area nursery for proper identification before spraying with insecticides.
➤ Hot, humid conditions can encourage powdery mildew on crape myrtle, dogwood and other ornamentals. Spray with Daconil or other fungicide, and be sure to clean up and destroy infected leaves that fall off of the plants.
What To Plant
➤ Zinnia seeds, gladiolus bulbs and pumpkin seeds are a few of the things that can be planted in July. Don’t add perennials or shrubs to your garden until cooler weather in the fall.
Kay Woodworth is executive director of the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council (UAC). She previously ran Practically Gardening, a landscape consulting firm, and was Master Gardener coordinator for the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service. Mary Kay is a frequent speaker at area schools, garden clubs, civic organizations and trade shows.