July Gardening Tips
Before pulling out the hose or running the sprinkler, check to make sure the garden does indeed need water.
Natural rainfall quantity can be determined with a rain gauge or with a straight sided can and a ruler. It is also a good idea to measure the amount of water being emitted by sprinklers by setting out coffee cans beneath them. Run the sprinklers for 15 minutes, shut them off, then measure the result and calculate how much water would be applied in an hour’s time. Most gardens benefit from an inch of water a week. In terms of water efficiency, sprinklers are not the best way to go. They tend to waste a fair amount of water by spraying non-target areas and plant foliage. They should only be used in the morning and on non-windy days to limit evaporative losses and plant disease issues. Delivering water directly to the soil is much more effective and can be easily achieved with soaker hoses or a customized drip irrigation system.
Mid-summer is typically the time to start deadheading in the garden.
Most flowering plants expend a tremendous amount of energy on seed production, which in turn takes away from root and shoot development and future flowering potential. Deadheading will also encourage many plants, especially annuals, to rebloom. Deadheading perennials is not difficult, only time consuming. Although deadheading is specific to each type of plant, all you really need to learn is to cut spent flowers back to a lateral bud or leaf. For example, in daylilies all you need to do is snap off the spent flower heads and seed pods with your fingers. Once there are no longer any blooms, flower stalks can be cut to the base with hand pruners.
Inspect the apples, crabapples and pears in your home orchard for signs of fire blight.
Fire blight is a bacterial disease that causes shriveling and blackening of young shoots and fruit. Infected young shoots will often bend to form a “shepherd’s crook.” Severe fire blight can cause trees to die. Managing the disease early is key to keeping plants alive. Pruning out twigs and branches infected with fire blight is the most effective management strategy for backyard fruit trees. The ideal time to prune is in late winter when the tree and fire blight bacteria are dormant, but infected branches can be removed in the summer too. When summer pruning, avoid spreading disease by sterilizing pruning tools between each cut by spraying the cutting blade with disinfectant or soaking cutting surface for at least a minute. A ten percent bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) is an effective disinfectant.
For the best selection, order spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and crocus for fall planting.
Most companies will wait to ship until close to the proper planting time in your area. If rodents have historically been an issue in your garden, select some of the many wildlife resistant bulbs.
Fruit growers should be aware of a small insect pest called spotted wing drosophila (SWD).
SWD is a member of the “small fruit fly” genus Drosophila, and was accidentally introduced to North America from Asia. SWD attacks ripening and ripe fruit of brambles, strawberry, blueberry, grape, cherry, plum, and peach. The female lays eggs in ripening fruit and the larvae develop inside, causing brown, sunken areas and making fruit susceptible to rot fungi and bacteria. Larvae are large enough to be seen by the naked eye crawling across the surface of fruit. Fortunately infested fruit is still edible for fresh eating or preserves. Pick berries early and often and eat or process them as soon as possible. Refrigerating fruit for a few days can also kill young life stages. Freezing extra fruit will kill any eggs or larva that might be inside, but obviously changes fruit characteristics.
Check the weekly IPM scouting reports to learn when it may be necessary to treat crops for pest insects like squash vine borer and spotted wing drosophila.
UNH Cooperative Extension provides growers with weekly data to help in making decisions about pest control. Traps are set in fields and orchards to track the population level of insects across NH. Farmers and home gardeners can use this data to decide when it may be necessary to treat a crop to avoid excessive insect damage.
Do you love learning about stuff like this?
A monthly newsletter for New Hampshire gardeners, homesteaders and plant-lovers of all kinds, that includes seasonal suggested gardening tips, upcoming events and articles with proven solutions for your garden and landscape.
Got questions? The Ask UNH Extension Infoline offers practical help finding answers for your home, yard, and garden questions. Call toll free at 1-877-398-4769, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.