Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print
It’s time for fireworks and picnics, beach days and hammocks, daylilies and dahlias — but it’s also time for watering and weeding, deadheading and dividing, and of course, mowing. Make time to enjoy the pleasures of summer but be sure to keep on top of the garden with these chores and tips.
1. To avoid disease, water the lawn only in the morning, and remember: Less-frequent deep irrigation trumps a daily sprinkle.
2. Shear creeping phlox, sweet alyssum and candytuft now, and you’ll be rewarded with fuller plants and more flowers next year.
3. For bigger pumpkins, pick off all but one flower from each plant and fertilize once a week.
4. Happy Fourth of July! It’s time to fertilize the lawn.
5. Ensure plants get an inch of water per week — including rain.
6. Change the water in birdbaths often.
7. Join the Great Long Island Tomato Challenge by sending a photo and your growing strategy to firstname.lastname@example.org
8. When tomatoes, eggplants and peppers set fruit, give them another shot of fertilizer.
9. Add one bunch of eelgrass per square foot of surface water into ponds to inhibit algae growth.
10. Pinch back snapdragons after blooming for a second flush later in the season.
11. For bigger tomatoes remove suckers, those tiny stems that grow between branch crotches.
12. To help prevent powdery mildew, thin crowded plants, water only in the morning and aim water at roots, not leaves.
13. Harvest green beans daily: The more you pick, the more the plant will produce.
14. Be sure trees planted this spring get a total of 1 1⁄2 inches of water per week from rain or supplemental irrigation.
15. Today’s the last day to shear hedges this year without risking damage.
16. 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.
17. For larger dahlia blooms, remove side shoots from main stems.
18. Deadhead summer-blooming shrubs and perennial plants.
19. Fertilize flowering perennials with a 5-10-5 product now to ramp up blooms.
20. Pick flowers in the morning and they’ll last longer in a vase, but clip them late in the day if you plan to dry them.
21. Pick melons when their skin turns yellow and stems feel loose.
22. 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.
23. If you’re planning a vacation, remember to arrange for a surrogate waterer.
24. Keep mower blades sharp to reduce lawn diseases, and set them to 3 inches (1 to 2 inches for zoysia.) Never cut more than one-third of overall height at once.
25. Harvest potatoes when leaves begin to die back.
26. Harvest squash when fruit is 5 to 6 inches long or plants will stop producing.
27. Sow seeds of cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, radish and broccoli directly into the garden for a fall crop.
28. Check potted annuals and vegetables twice daily to assess water needs.
29. Deadhead grandiflora roses and hybrid teas.
30. Live near the shore? Spray tree foliage with an anti-dessicant to protect from salt and wind damage.
31. Harvest herbs in the morning, just after the dew has dried, for optimum flavor.