Summer Time Gardening Tips

Summer is back in force and its heat discourages even the most experimented gardeners. But plants still need your attention and many tasks are still to be completed in July, when the sun is burning outside, even though gardening may be the last concern on your agenda. Below are several summer time gardening tips:

First, look after the container plants. This time of year, plants in pots and hanging baskets can get leggy and ungainly so giving them a good haircut gets them back to a more compact, attractive form. Pinch or cut stems just above a leaf node, the slight swelling on the stem where leaves emerge. For seriously overgrown plants, you’ll want to cut back fairly far. The shorn plants won’t be as attractive in the short term, but they should rebound fairly quickly with new growth, recommends

Heat also brings out pests so keep a close eye on them since destructive insects appear to chew leaves and wreak havoc on both ornamental and food plants. Hand-picking is the best approach for controlling many pesky insects, including Japanese beetles, tomato hornworms and Colorado potato beetles. Just toss them into a container of soapy water to kill them. Also stay alert for various diseases that can strike in the garden. Depending on the symptoms, get help from specialists.

Since we mentioned trimming container plants, you should do the same with veggies. For instance, as concerns tomatoes, remove suckers – those shoots that grow on tomato plants in the crotch between the main stem and a leaf. If allowed to grow, they can become stems that compete with the main stem for nutrients, water and sunlight. Removing suckers helps keep the main stem strong.

July is also the right month to shape evergreen shrubs. Do not wait too long to prune the shrubs because if you do it late fall the small trees may be susceptible to winter injury.

This time of the year you can also sow crops that will mature as the cooler fall temperatures set in. Now’s a good time for starting fall crops of veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and beans. And, since in July landscaping beds and perennial gardens are at their most lush this time of year, so this is a good time to make note of bare spots that could use filling in with plants. Snapping a few pictures with your phone is an easy way to make a record of your garden, and you’ll have the photos with you when you shop for plants next spring to fill the empty spaces.

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