Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print
Ah, July. Fireworks, barbecues, beach days and, hopefully, a sense of relaxation for everyone.
Enjoy those moments while you can because I have plenty of work lined up for you: there's weeding and watering, deadheading and dividing, and then, yes, the joy that can only come from reaping what one sows.
Here's a chore for every day of the month to keep your garden on track:
1. Ensure plants get an inch of water per week -- including rain.
2. Change the water in bird baths often.
3. Pinch back snapdragons after blooming for a second flush later in the season.
4. Happy Fourth of July! It's time to fertilize the lawn.
5. For more verbena, euonymus, ivy and climbing roses, pull a stem to the ground and cover with soil. Cut away when roots grow and plant elsewhere.
6. To avoid disease, water the lawn only in the morning, and remember: Less-frequent deep irrigation trumps a daily sprinkle.
7. Harvest green beans daily: The more you pick, the more the plant will produce.
8. For bigger pumpkins, pick off all but one flower from each plant and fertilize once a week.
9. When tomatoes, eggplants and peppers set fruit, give them another dose of fertilizer.
10. For bigger tomatoes remove suckers, those tiny stems that grow between branch crotches.
11. To help prevent powdery mildew, thin crowded plants, water only in the morning and aim water at roots, not leaves.
12. Shear creeping phlox, sweet alyssum and candytuft now, and you'll be rewarded with fuller plants and more flowers next year.
13. Cut chrysanthemums back by a third to prevent them from growing leggy and encourage more blooms. Don't be afraid to remove buds; more will grow.
14. For larger dahlia blooms, remove side shoots from main stems.
15. Today's the last day to shear hedges this year without risking damage.
16. Deadhead summer-blooming shrubs and perennial plants.
17. Harvest potatoes when leaves begin to die back.
18. Fertilize flowering perennials with a 5-10-5 product now to ramp up blooms.
19. Pick melons when their skin turns yellow and stems feel loose.
20. Harvest squash when fruit is 5-6 inches long or plants will stop producing.
21. Sow seeds of beets, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, turnips, radish, kale and broccoli directly into the garden for a fall crop.
22. Check potted annuals and vegetables twice daily to assess water needs.
23. Deadhead grandiflora roses and hybrid teas.
24. Live near the shore? Spray tree foliage with an anti-dessicant to protect from salt and wind damage.
25. Pick tomato hornworms off by hand and destroy them.
26. Stay on top of weeds.
27. To protect against vine borers, mound soil up around the bottom of squash and cucumber stems.
28. Cut back sickly looking annuals. You have nothing to lose and you might be able to save them.
29. Fertilize strawberries after harvesting.
30. Replenish mulch to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture.
31. Time to divide bearded iris. Remember to replant with crowns exposed.