Several chores need a bit more information than I generally include in the to-do list at the end of these articles.
Blackberry and raspberry bushes fruit now. After fruiting is the perfect time to cut out the old, no longer productive canes. Remember that berries grow on second-year canes, so leave this year’s canes alone. They are the source of next year’s crop.
Cut old canes to the ground and remove them from the area.
Watering can become very important as the summer heats up. Your garden, lawn and containers will need at least an inch of water each week. In any seven-day period where we don’t get that much rain, you should consider watering to make up the difference, In the case of containers, in hot weather or if placed in a hot area such as a patio or driveway, they may need water two or more times a day. Conversely, in weeks with a lot of rain, when the garden and yard are still wet, don’t water.
Depending on the type of grass you have planted, it may go into summer dormancy. Called cool-season grasses, i.e., Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue, and tall fescue, thrive in areas with cold winters and hot summers. During hot and dry periods, these grasses will stop growing and may brown. Extended dry periods, beyond three weeks, can seriously damage or kill grasses that are not watered.
Know what type of grass you have and water if you must. You can decrease the amount of watering necessary by cutting the grass only when too long and maintaining a height of two and a half to three inches tall.
Harvesting is another July chore. Check crops at least every other day and harvest. Ripe tomatoes left on the vine will split open so pick them as they ripen or a bit early if the period of rain (a half-inch or more) is expected.
Water early in the day if possible. It decreases the amount of moisture lost to evaporation and allows the foliage to dry out before the cooler evening, Damp leaves and cool temperatures are ideal for developing molds and fungi problems. If you can’t water early, try to water from below, direct your hose at the soil or use a soaker hose. Note that it is helpful to use mulch to conserve water and to lessen the chances of spores splashing up onto your plants.
Weed regularly. If you let this get ahead of you, your plants will be fighting for nutrients and water with weeds. You will also multiply your problems by allowing any weed to go to seed. One plant can produce hundreds, even thousands of seeds, some with a viability of 10 or more years.
“Love of Gardening” is this year’s theme for the Parkland Garden Club’s annual garden tour. On July 16, the tour will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes nine gardens. A silent auction will be held at one of the houses on the tour.
Tickets are $20 before the tour and $25 the day of the tour. They can be purchased at these businesses: 4 Seasons Garden Center, 9005 Hamilton Blvd., Breinigsville; Crooked Row Farm, 3245 Rt. 309 Orefield; C. Leslie Smith, The Shops at Cedar Pt., 311 Cedar Crest Blvd., Allentown; Dan Schantz Greenhouse, 2031 29th St. SW, Allentown; Eagle Point Farms, 853 Trexlertown Rd., Trexlertown; Herbein’s Garden Center, 4301 Chestnut St., Emmaus; Lehigh Valley Home and Garden Center, 4220 Crackersport Rd., Allentown; Phoebe Floral Shop, 2102 W. Hamilton St, Allentown.
This is one of my favorite events, and I regret that I will not be at one of the tour houses this year because of a prior commitment. I’m sure the tour will be great and I hope to take part again next year.
The Summer Lecture Series is currently running several lectures from Rodale Institute’s regenerative organic experts. The events are hosted at the Rodale Institute Founders Farm Campus, in Allentown. Presentations are held weekly and include light refreshments are held weekly on Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Browse the upcoming free lectures at rodaleinstitute.org/education/rodale-institute-summer-lecture-series/
Also, consider attending Rodale’s Annual Organic Field Day on July 22. Tour the 386=acre experimental farm and learn about their research. Interact one-on-one with Rodale Institute experts and learn about a wide variety of research and demonstration projects. The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Registration is limited and required, tickets are $25 per person. Bring your own lunch or purchase food available on site. Register: rodaleinstitute.org/visit/organic-field-day/
Sue Kittek is a freelance garden columnist, writer, and lecturer. Send questions to Garden Keeper at [email protected] or mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, PO Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105.
Planting: Start final sowing of beets, bush green beans, chard, cucumbers, melons, okra, potatoes, pumpkins, summer squash, and sweet corn. Plant but protect from heat: late-season cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peas, and broccoli for late summer or early fall harvest. Plant or pot up summer bulbs and tubers such as dahlias, cannas, calla lilies, and caladiums. Replace spent containers of spring flowers with heat-loving annuals. Move the pansies to cool shade and keep them watered during the summer if you want to keep them for the fall. Hold new plants until the weather cools. Gather them together to make watering easier.
Seasonal: Stake tall flowers and provide supports for vining plants. Deadhead flowers and trim damaged, diseased, and dead foliage to keep beds tidy. Shear back damaged or ratty-looking foliage on columbine (Aquilegia sp.) and cranesbill geraniums. Cut common bleeding heart (Dicentra spectablis) back to its base foliage. Prune back clematis (Group I, C. Montana rubens, for example) and deutzia, after blooming. Divide spring-blooming perennials after they finish blooming. Cut back peony flower stems as the blooms fade. Allow the greens to grow until fall then cut them back to the ground. Clip back iris flower stems as the blooms fade; divide plants in crowded beds
Give a light feeding to hellebores such as the Lenten rose. Stop pinching back helenium, chrysanthemums and asters. Test soil for new beds. Retest soil in poorly performing areas or those that haven’t been tested in the last 3-5 years. Apply corn gluten-based weed control in the garden and establish a schedule for reapplication, usually at four to six week intervals
Lawn: Treat for chinch bugs and sod webworms. Cut as needed, based on growth not schedule, to a height of about 2 ½ to 3 inches tall. Use a sharp blade and fresh gas. Keep newly seeded or sodded lawns watered; supplement rain in weeks where less than an inch. Apply spring fertilizer treatments now. Apply preemergent crabgrass control in the next few weeks. Fill in holes and low spots in lawn. Apply corn gluten-based weed control in the garden; reapply at four to six week intervals.
Chores: Harvest crops regularly, at least every other day. Check hoses; replace washers and correct leaky connections. Dump standing water and remove anything that may collect rainwater to help control mosquito populations. Check seed inventory for late crops and fall planting.
Inventory and restock seed starting and potting supplies. Clean, disinfect and store pots and trays used for seed starting and transplants. Water any recent plantings and containers anytime we experience a week with less than an inch of rain. Fix damaged screens and garden hoses. Note damaged caulking around doors and windows. Dump standing water and remove anything that may collect rainwater to help control mosquito populations. Provide deer, rabbit and groundhog protection for vulnerable plants. Reapply taste or scent deterrents. Clean and fill bird feeders regularly. Clean up spilled seed and empty hulls. Dump, scrub and refill birdbaths at least once a week. Consider setting out nesting materials if you have them.
Clear gutters and direct rainwater runoff away from house foundations.
Tools, equipment, and supplies: Check spring equipment and supplies, repair or replace. Sharpen blades, get fresh gas, check and/or replace oil. Send snow removal equipment for tuneup or repair.
Safety: Clear lawns of debris before mowing and make sure pets, children and others are well away from the area being mown.
Store garden chemicals indoors away from pets and children. Discard outdated ones at local chemical collection events. Photograph storm damage before clearing or repairing for insurance claims and file promptly. Any time you are outside and the temperatures are about 50°F or warmer watch for tick bites. Use an insect repellent containing Deet on the skin. Apply a permethrin product to clothing. Wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves, hats and long pants when working in the garden. Stay hydrated. Drink water or other non-caffeinated, nonalcoholic beverages. Even in cold weather, apply sunscreen, wear hats and limit exposure to sun. Wear closed-toe shoes and gloves; use eye protection; and use ear protection when using any loud power tools.