As fireworks blast off at the beginning of this month, so does the garden: Many perennials peak, annuals spread like wildfire, and summer vegetables take a place at the table. Ensure they remain healthy and vigorous by following these tips and chores all month long.
1. When tomatoes, eggplants and peppers set fruit, give them another shot of fertilizer.
2. Accommodate for rainfall, or a lack thereof, and ensure the lawn gets 1 to 1½ inches of water per week. Less-frequent, deeper watering trumps a daily sprinkle.
3. Change the water in birdbaths often.
4. Happy Fourth of July! Alas, there will be no independence from garden chores. Today is prime 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 protect against late blight, treat potato and tomato plants with a fungicide containing chlorothalonil (or copper, if growing organic) and reapply every week.
7. Harvest green beans daily: The more you pick, the more the plant will produce.
8. Shear creeping phlox, sweet alyssum and candytuft now, and you’ll have fuller plants with more flowers next year.
9. Add one bunch of eelgrass per square foot of surface water to ponds to inhibit algae growth.
10. For bigger pumpkins, pick off all but one flower from each plant, then fertilize once a week.
11. Join the Great Long Island Tomato Challenge by sending a photo of your plant and your growing strategy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
12. To stave off powdery mildew, thin crowded plants, water only in the morning and aim water at roots, not leaves.
13. Water and turn the compost pile.
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. Fertilize flowering perennials now with a 5-10-5 product to increase blooming.
17. For the best flavor, harvest herbs around 10 a.m. — after the dew has dried, but before the sun is at its strongest.
18. For fuller chrysanthemums and more fall flowers, cut plants back by one-third now. No worries about removing buds; they’ll make more.
19. Ensure trees planted this spring get a total of 1½ inches of water per week from rain or supplemental irrigation.
20. Pick flowers in the morning so they'll last longer in a vase; clip them late in the day if you plan to dry them.
21. Sow seeds of cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, radish and broccoli directly into the garden for a fall crop.
22. Harvest potatoes when leaves begin to die back.
23. Harvest squash when fruit is 5 to 6 inches long, or plants will stop producing.
24. Go on a search-and-destroy mission for tomato hornworms. Pick them off by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
25. Deadhead grandiflora roses and hybrid teas.
26. Pick melons when their skins turn yellow and stems feel loose.
27. “Moon gardeners” claim to notice rapid plant growth during the full moon. Observe plants this week and share your findings with me at email@example.com.
28. If you’re planning a vacation, remember to arrange for a surrogate waterer. Heat waves and drought can be killers.
29. To protect against vine borers, mound soil up around the bottom of squash and cucumber stems.
30. Divide bearded iris, replanting with the tops of crowns exposed.
31. Fertilize container plants every two weeks with a water-soluble product.