July 2010 Garden Tips
- July is the month in Sonoma County when gardeners typically start to observe water problems, especially if they have not been practicing ‘water wise’ gardening. However, this year Sonoma County had very late rain (May 27 saw substantial precipitation) so things are not as dry as they usually are at this time. However, we are firmly in the dry season now so check to make sure that all irrigation systems are working and that filters are not clogged.
- Trees, shrubs, and perennials that you planted this spring (or summer) can take a long time to adjust to their new homes. They need extra watering or their leaves will droop. Water them evenly and well to encourage deep root growth. Water them throughout the growing season to ensure that they winter over well.
- Don’t kill spiders in your garden! Spiders do not harm your plants and they help you keep down other insect populations. There are a lot of insects – both detrimental and beneficial – this year due to all the rain.
- Weeds are usually hardier than flowers and crops, and they will rob your plants of water and nutrients. All which means you either have to mulch more or get down on your hands and knees and WEED! And yes, there are more weeds, too, due to all the rain.
- Cut back perennials such as nepeta, diascia and penstemmon to force new foliage and keep the blooms coming.
- Deadhead perennials and annuals such as heuchera and petunias to keep the plants from bolting or setting seed.
- To make sure your plants are getting enough water, dig down and check out the soil. As an example, for your plants to be getting an inch of water a week, the soil should be moist to about the depth of 12 inches.
- Have you been picking slugs off of your vegetables and plants? You can remove that slimy slug residue on your hands with a couple of capfuls of inexpensive vinegar. Wash your hands with lukewarm water and repeat if necessary.
- July is a month of lessening garden work so it is a good time to observe and plan. Take a glass of something cold to a shady spot and sit with a notebook and pen and look around the garden. Make a list of which plants are working and which are not. Note particularly successful plant combinations that deserve to be repeated elsewhere in the garden. That way when the fall planting season arrives, you’ll be prepared!