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Agriculture Today

July 2011 Gardening Calendar

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June 29, 2011 | 3,401 views | Post a comment

This is a once-a-month column provided to Wilson County News reader online.

It is time to harvest all your remaining tomatoes and pull the Spring planted plants. The large fruit that has turned white from green will ripen quickly in the house.

Tycoon tomatoes have fared well this year. Based on reports from gardeners and the results of the Milberger’s Top Tomato Contest. The Tycoon’s dominated the number of entrées and won the Top Tomato award. A Phoenix tomato placed second and the largest tomato at nearly two pounds was a Brandywine.

Tycoon will also be a good choice for the Fall. Gardeners characterized it as sweet tasting and juicy. The skin is tough, which means it stores well. Plant tomatoes for Fall in early August if the hot weather breaks.

The hot, dry weather has translated to very little fungus disease on tomatoes and other plants. Even snapdragons escaped rust in many plantings.

Spider mites, however, are rampant. If they overcome your tomatoes, harvest the fruit and discard the plants. Seaweed extract mixed at two tablespoons per gallon of water and applied twice per week under the leaves has kept the populations low in some gardens. Other gardeners say that Spinosad and/or neem oil have worked. None of the treatments will bring a large population under control. They are preventative treatments.

Plant okra and southern peas as quick as possible for Fall harvest. Both do well by seed. After a fast start, green peppers have seemed to decline. Harvest existing fruit and keep the plants well watered. They will perk up and set more fruit in the Fall.

Harvest the few remaining peaches when the background color changes from green to yellow. They are vulnerable to bird and squirrel feeding.

In the flower garden, plant zinnias, angelonia, and vinca if you have open space. Cosmos, purslane and moss roses are also good choices. All three are deer resistant in some neighborhoods, including mine. If you plant them where deer wonder, spray them with Liquid Fence to discourage any inclination by the deer to test them.

Use “Cora” vinca for the best resistance to the fungal disease aerial phytophera. My favorite zinnia is “Dreamland.” The flowers are large and rounded with strong colors of yellow, red, lavender, pink and off-white.

The big challenge in the landscape this month will be to keep the lawn green. Many communities have declared drought restrictions. Comply with the restrictions to help keep from falling deeper into restrictions and plan your watering to be efficient and effective.

• Water in the morning or evening even if you do not have specified times to water. Avoid irrigating when the wind is blowing and the temperatures are high.
• Add enough water per application to fill the whole soil reservoir. Sandy soils, however, do best with frequent shallow watering.
• Keep the irrigation system in good shape. Repair leaks as they are discovered and do a regular inspection.
• Hand water special spots where the irrigation system does not cover well.

If your lawn is Bermuda, buffalo grass or zoysia you can make the decision to let it go dormant. Those grasses have the ability to recover quickly when the rains resume.

Drip irrigation is the most efficient way to water your vegetables and flowers. There are kits available at retail nurseries and the big box stores so you can do it yourself. An option that is nearly as efficient and very easy to use is to string leaky hoses along the rows or from plant to plant. The water “sweats” out of the hose along its length to provide water at the soil surface. The key is to turn the hose on at low pressure. If flow is high, the water spurts out and you lose the efficiency.

Calvin R. Finch, PhD, is a SAWS Director and Horticulturist.

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