What to do in the Garden: July

Happy July! After a dreary spring, summer has come crashing in and brought the heat with it. This month is an awkward month for planting, it’s too hot and late to plant most spring and summer crops, but too hot and early for the fall and winter veggies. Instead, focus your efforts on keeping up with the harvest!

Northern California Gardening Checklist: July

  • Minimize fire risk. Mow or weedwhack down dry wild grasses and weeds around the house, doing the work early in the morning. Clear away dead branches from shrubs and trees. Check out Fire Safe Sonoma for more guidelines and how to keep your home safe.
  • Prop up fruit trees. To prevent limb breakage on fruit trees, use wooden supports to brace heavy limbs that are sagging with fruit.

    a sturdy stick props up a loaded Santa Rosa plum branch
    a sturdy stick props up a loaded Santa Rosa plum branch
  • Control hornworms. Inspect tomato plants for chewed leaves and black poop, telltale signs of a hungry hornworm. Hunt though foliage and handpick. Shudder in disgust and quickly feed to the chickens.
  •  Water. Water early early in the morning to minimize evaporation. Adjust irrigation systems to water more often (if needed) to compensate for the heat. I try to get out before 7:00 every morning to water my beds. Its best for the plants and, bonus, I don’t get all sweaty hauling the hose around. Check containers regularly. If you forget about a pot, and the soil contracts leaving gaps at the side, soak the container to rehydrate the soil.

water early in the morning

  • Prune berry vines. When your done harvesting, cut old canes (the ones that have just bore) off at the base, and tie new canes to the trellis.
  • Prune wisteria. To extend the height or length of the vine, select some of the new stems and tie to a support in the direction you want them to grow. Then, cut the rest back to within 6 inches of the main branch.
the side of my house is literally a wisteria jungle. taming it is on the to-do list, someday.
the side of my house is literally a wisteria jungle. taming it is on the one day to-do list
  • Feed. If you didn’t enrich the soil when planting, feed tomatoes lightly. If you have issues with blossom end rot, apply a liquid calcium.
  • Harvest. Pick cucumbers, beans and squash daily. Tomatoes start to ripen this month, as well as melons, eggplants and peppers. Keep up with fruit harvest and remove any fallen fruit off the ground to prevent a mess and pests. I’ll be doing posts later this month on ideas on how to use all the plums and summer squash we are all inundated with.

basil and squash

  • Deadhead. Pick off faded blooms from annuals and perennials such as daisies, geraniums, marigolds, repeat blooming roses and penstemons to prolong flowerings.
  • Preserve. Canning season is now here! I’ll be doing a post next week on helpful preserving season tips. Make jam from the influx of summer fruits. If you can’t get to it right away or need to accumulate enough fruit to make it worth it, wash, pit and measure out them store in the freezer until you have more time. Ferment the cucumbers into pickles. Run fruits though the dehydrator. dehydrating apricots
  • Plan. Curl up in front of an AC, or at least a fan, and start planning the fall garden. Order seeds for cool-season veggies like lettuce, broccoli, carrots, kale and radishes.
  • Eat Ice Cream. Apparently, its National Ice Cream month. As if I needed an excuse!

Any exciting plans for July? Have any garden or home projects you’re hoping to get accomplished? Leave a comment and let me know!

“Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.”
–  Henry David Thoreau