The month begins and ends with a full moon, and so-called moon gardeners believe the gravitational pull on the Earth will cause plants to grow by leaps and bounds during those times. Regardless of whether you buy into that, one thing's for certain: It's the busy season for gardeners, and there will be plenty of weeding, watering and deadheading to do. Here's your list of chores for July to help your garden blast off along with all the inevitable fireworks. Enjoy it!
1. Water the lawn only in the morning, and remember: Less-frequent deep irrigation trumps a daily sprinkle.
2. To protect against late blight, treat potato and tomato plants with a fungicide containing chlorothalonil (or copper, if growing organic), and reapply every week.
3. Join the Great Long Island Tomato Challenge by sending a photo and your growing strategy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Happy Independence Day! Hang a flag and fertilize the lawn.
5. When tomatoes, eggplants and peppers set fruit, give them another shot of fertilizer.
6. Add one bunch of eelgrass per square foot of surface water into ponds to inhibit algae growth.
7. Be sure trees planted this spring get a total of 11/2 inches of water per week from rain or supplemental irrigation all summer long.
8. For bigger tomatoes remove suckers, those tiny stems that grow between branch crotches.
9. To help prevent powdery mildew, thin crowded plants, water only in the morning and aim water at roots, not leaves.
10. For bigger pumpkins, pick off all but one flower from each plant, and fertilize once a week.
11. Change the water in bird baths at least every three days. Visit newsday.com/gardening 101 for tips.
12. Pinch back snapdragons after blooming for a second flush later in the season.
13. 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.
14. Shear creeping phlox, sweet alyssum and candytuft now, and you'll be rewarded with fuller plants and more flowers next year.
15. Today's the last day to shear hedges this year without risking damage.
16. If you're planning a vacation, arrange for a surrogate wagerer; if you come home to dead plants, it will likely be too late to start over.
17. Keep mower blades sharp to reduce lawn diseases, and set them to 3 inches (1-2 inches for zoysia.) Never cut more than 1/3 of overall height at once.
18. Harvest potatoes when leaves begin to die back.
19. Deadhead summer-blooming shrubs and perennial plants.
20. Fertilize flowering perennials with a 5-10-5 product now to keep them blooming.
21. Harvest squash when fruit is 5-6 inches long or plants will stop producing.
22. Sow seeds of beets, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, turnips, radish, kale and broccoli directly into the garden for a fall crop.
23. Live near the shore? Spray tree foliage with an anti-dessicant to protect from salt and wind damage.
24. Cut back struggling annuals. You have nothing to lose and you might be able to save them.
25. Cut flowers will stay fresher longer if you pick them in the morning, but if you're going to dry them, pick them late in the day.
26. Harvest herbs in the morning, just after the dew has dried, for optimum flavor.
27. Pick melons when their skin turns yellow and stems loosen their hold on the fruit.
28. Harvest green beans daily: The more you remove, the more the plant will produce.
29. Cigarettes can transmit tobacco mosaic virus to your plants. Don't smoke in the garden, and wash hands after smoking before handling plants. Really.
30. Be sure trees planted this year get 11/2 inches of water per week; water established trees during times of drought.
31. Plant peas again for a fall harvest.