Gardening Notes by Tomese Buthod, Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Master Gardener
Vegetable and Ornamental Gardening
July Gardening Activities Calendar and To-Do list
The weather that we all said we would "never, ever complain about again" is here. It's probably here to stay for at least 2 months. It is times like this that I really question why it is that I garden. So here's a list of tips that I hope will renew our enthusiasm.
Protect your fruit crop with netting.
Cicada netting is better than wildlife netting. The holes are smaller so fewer creatures are caught and there's not much chance that the fruit can be extracted.
Deadhead rhododendron and azaleas to increase bloom next year.
Deadhead perennials especially those that will rebloom for example: Balloon, Blanket, and Cardinal Flower, Coral Bells, Daylily, Foam Flower, Cranesbill Geranuim, Lavender, Coneflower, Salvia, Shasta Daisy, and Speedwell.
Continue fertilizing roses until August.
Pinch back mums to prevent early bloom.
Plant more warm season veggies. Later-planted crops sometime can escape insect damage because they are slightly off schedule.
Begin sowing cole crop seeds for the fall garden.
Water trees, shrubs and lawns deeply but infrequently.
In the perennial bed, Ligularia, New Guinea Impatiens and Phlox are good indicator plants. If they still look wilted in the evening then it's time to water the whole bed.
Containers sometimes need to be watered twice per day – on those really hot days we get containers dry out very quickly.
Pinch side shoots off of dahlia stems to increase bloom.
Sharpen mower blades and hand tools. Maintain a mower height of 2 ½” -3” during our hot summer.
Divide and transplant irises.
Fertilize container plants regularly. Soil should be damp before applying liquid fertilizers.
Scout for insect and disease problems. Do not apply anything when the day's high temperature will be 85 degrees or higher. The day after a thunderstorm usually provides a small window of opportunity.
Tomatoes and and other things in the garden
It’s hard to believe, but it is time to plant fall crops. In the next few weeks I’ll plant peas and radishes in my garden, and I’m trying to figure out where I can squeeze in some broccoli. My summer crops are still doing beautifully, and nothing is ready to be pulled up. The tomato plants are really coming along right now and any day I expect I’ll need to start canning the tomatoes.
For the first time I’m growing a couple of container cherry tomatoes. Tumbling Tom and Bumble Bee – both had descriptions that they stayed very small for growing in a container. Well, the Tumbling Tom is living up to that, but the Bumble Bee is almost as big as my tomatoes planted in the ground! The Bee is in a much bigger pot which I’m sure has something to do with the size difference, but at this rate I need to get a ladder to harvest the tomatoes it’s loaded with! They are very tasty, and they are really pretty. They are a dark red with green streaks, making it a very pretty edible plant for the ornamental garden. A new favorite salad tomato is the Indigo Apple – it is a lovely blue and green while it is growing on the vine, and then it is a quite tasty tomato when ripe.
I’m also trying several different colorful peppers in my containers for some ornamental interest and I am sold! The plants stay nicely contained, the leaves are very attractive and the different colored peppers add a really nice visual interest. I highly recommend getting some pepper plants for your yard – I got all of mine from Theineman’s and they are selling plants every week for us at Bardstown Road Farmer’s Market.
Watering, Watering, Watering
This is an El Nino year, and so far we’re getting the infrequent rains that come in that cycle. So, we have to watch the water needs of the garden pretty carefully. (Remember the mantra – infrequent and DEEP watering – an inch a week.) Get a rain gauge if you don’t have one – it is the BEST toy for a gardener. (Did I say toy? I meant tool, of course!) But an aid to help know more about how much rain the whole area is getting is free on the MSD website. There are almost two dozen official rain gauges around the county and the MSD website updates every 5 minutes! You can query for a specific gauge, for a specific period of time. It’s completely addictive and very handy for me, as I live in one part of the county and my vegetable garden is in another area.
Here is the link to the site and query tool:
If you don’t have a rain gauge, get a small, straight-sided bucket and place it where it won’t catch drips or run-offs from plants, trees or rooflines. Use a ruler to measure how deep the water is after a rain. You’ll be very surprised how much rain it takes to get a ¼”!
As always, If you’ve got gardening questions, call the Jefferson Co. Cooperative Extension at 502-569-2344. Download or print the latest version of the Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky booklet at http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf This tool is invaluable as you plan your garden – no matter if you are a seasoned gardener or a first-timer. You can send questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org about your vegetables and I’ll do my best to answer, but I can’t swear that I’ll be super timely with a response – if the weather is decent I’m in the garden and nowhere near my computer!