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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

Garden Detective: A tip or chore for every day in July

Gardening tips and chores to conquer this month.

Gardening tips and chores to conquer this month.  Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Alexander Denisenko

Although many sporting events, parades, concerts and other venues for fireworks have been canceled for July, we gardeners still can enjoy an explosion of color in our beds and borders. And to keep plants blooming, we know we’ll have to water, fertilize and occasionally deadhead. Fruits, vegetables and weeds, too, need tending, but our efforts in these daily chores will repay us — and even passersby — with a feast (albeit quieter) for the senses.

1. Inhibit algae from growing in ponds by adding one bunch of eelgrass per square foot of surface water.

2. Water evenly and apply mulch to avoid blossom end rot of tomatoes and peppers.

3. Pumpkins are heavy feeders; fertilize once a week.

4. Happy Fourth of July! Fertilize the lawn, then take the rest of the day off.

5. Green beans are generous plants; the more you harvest, the more they produce. Keep picking!

6. Water the lawn and other plants only in the morning to allow moisture to evaporate and help prevent disease.

7. Remove suckers from tomato branch crotches to encourage bushier habits and larger tomatoes. Here’s how:

8. Get proactive against mildew by aiming water at soil, not plants, watering in the morning and thinning crowded plants.

9. Clean birdbaths and replace water at least twice a week. Here’s how:

10. Pinch back snapdragons after blooming for a second flush in a few weeks.

11. Make more verbena, ivy, euonymus and climbing roses: Pull a stem to the ground and bury with soil. When it roots, cut it and plant elsewhere. Voilà!

12. Fertilize peppers, eggplants and tomatoes when plants set fruit.

13. Sheer sweet alyssum, candytuft and creeping phlox.

14. Apply a 5-10-5 fertilizer to flowering perennials to boost continued blooming.

15. Last call for sheering hedges this year.

16. Potatoes are ready for harvesting when foliage begins to die back.

17. There are no prizes for giant zucchini. Harvest squash when 5 to 6 inches long or plants will stop producing.

18. If you’re near the shore, apply anti-desiccant to trees to protect from salt and wind damage.

19. For the best flavor, pick herbs in the morning, just after the dew has dried.

20. For a fall crop, sow beet, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, turnip, radish, kale and broccoli seeds directly into the garden.

21. Remove side shoots from main stems for larger dahlia blooms.

22. Water the compost pile and give it a turn.

23. Plant more peas now for a late-season crop.

24. Continue to water trees and shrubs planted this season, aiming for 1½ inches of water per week (including rainfall).

25. Go on a hunt-and-destroy mission for tomato hornworms. Remove by hand and drop in a bucket of soapy water.

26. Melons are ready for harvesting when stems loosen and skin turns yellow.

27. Mound soil a few inches up main stems of cucumbers and squash to guard against borers.

28. Dig and divide bearded iris. Leave crown tops exposed when replanting.

29. Keep cucumber plants well-hydrated to prevent bitter fruit.

30. Monitor blackberries daily and harvest when ripe.

31. Prune off old fruiting canes when you’ve finished harvesting raspberries.

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