Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July Gardening Tips for the Vegetable Garden

Ah, July - the heart and soul of the Maine summer and the peak growing season for vegetable gardens. This makes it the perfect time to head outdoors and give your vegetables a little extra support in terms of mulch, caging and weed and pest control.

July Gardening Checklist

- Extra Mulch: By now seedlings have grown into sturdy plants and could benefit from some extra mulching. Apply mulch to within an inch of the base of plants. This will help keep moisture in the ground and control those pesky weeds.

Tip: Look for areas where persistent weeds keep popping up. Push back the mulch, till the area to remove all weeds and their roots and re-mulch the area.

- Supports: Place cages around tomatoes if you haven’t already or any other plants that could use a little support. Push up the soil around plants that are starting to lean such as peppers and beans. Make sure all trellises are supported with stakes and ties and can handle the weight of vining plants and their soon to be vegetables.

Tip: If you don’t have cages, drive a stake into the ground within a few inches of large plants and loosely tie the stem of the plants to the stake. Tying them loosely won’t restrict the stem from growing or cause any damage.

- Weed Control: Thanks to all the humidity and rain we’ve had here in Maine this summer, weeds are thriving. Pull them before they take over the vegetable garden and especially before they go to seed. Apply extra mulch where needed and till the soil between rows in the garden.

Tip: Pull weeds while the ground is wet either after a rain or before the dew dries in the morning. It’s much easier to pull weeds from wet soil.

- Pest Check: Good and bad pests are already out. July is the month to watch for slugs, Japanese beetles, aphids, squash bugs and cucumber beetles. Hand pick them, set out organic traps and work to keep them under control. As more and more vegetable plants flower, more and more pests are going to be attracted to the vegetable garden.

Tip: Bring a pail or water bottle filled with soapy water out to the garden when handpicking pests. Drop pests into the soapy water where they’ll drown.

What’s Going on in Gibby’s Garden in July?

My garden has been busy growing. The rain and humidity have made my broccoli and bean plants grow like crazy - something that’s made me very happy. I put tomato cages around my broccoli plants to prevent them from leaning even though they are nice and sturdy and have strong root systems.

I also pushed up the soil around my bean plants, which have started to flower, because they were starting to lean. This little bit of support will go a long way towards keeping the plants upright under the weight of the beans they are soon to produce.
To find out what else is going on in Gibby’s Garden during the month of July, check out Gibby's Garden Diary. You may even be encouraged to start one of your own.

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