July 2015 Gardening Calendar
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Harvest the last of your tomatoes early in the month and pull the plants. Plants for a fall crop can be planted at the end of the month. Recommended varieties include Tycoon, Bobcat, Valley Cat, BHN 968 (cherry), Celebrity, 444 and Phoenix.
Tomatoes have been a mixed bag this spring. While some plants have grown lush, thick crowns with few fruit, others have been very productive, producing fruit throughout the second half of May. Yet other plants have been infected with fungal leaf diseases. The fungal disease, early blight, attacks the tomato plant, starting at the bottom and working its way up the plant. A spray of daconil (chlorothalonil) will often slow down the infection long enough to harvest a decent crop.
Peppers okra, eggplant and southern peas should continue to produce fruit through the month. Fire ants are attracted to the okra, where they “farm” aphids and even feed on the flowers. They can be controlled with a fire-ant bait that contains spinosad that is labeled for the vegetable garden. It even works to spray the ants off the plant with a hose just before you harvest.
In the flower garden, with the summer heat, vinca, moss roses, purslane and cosmos will prosper in full sun. Deadhead the zinnias to keep them in a bloom mode. In the shade, begonias, pentas, caladium and coleus should continue to perform well as long as they receive adequate irrigation.
The hot weather perennials, esperanza, poinciana, firebush, duranta and thyrallis prosper in the heat. All of them provide nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.
As part of the effort to increase breeding habitat for monarch butterflies, plant one of the milkweeds. The tropical milkweed, with its orange and yellow blooms is the most attractive, but also use the native varieties if you can locate a transplant.
The lawn has had an excellent winter and spring for the first time in five years. Since the rains continued in June, we have finally eased out of drought restrictions. Even so, continue to irrigate just once a week at the most. The grass will do fine.
If your lawn was damaged by grubs or chinch bugs last year, chances are they are back this year. Apply a lawn insecticide early in the month to control grubs. If you wait longer than that, it will be too late to control them.
It has been a good year for purple martins. The frequent rains resulted in lush foliage and lots of moths and other flying insects for the martins to eat. They will move from your martin houses this month to assembly areas in preparation for moving south.
In the flower garden, if you planted vincas in April or May, they may have been infected with aerial phytophora. There are reports that the soggy soil and wet foliage were so prevalent that even Cora, the most disease-resistant vinca, was affected. Now that temperatures have warmed up, it is probably safe to replant vinca transplant. Cora is still the best choice.
Some of us who rely on zinnias for our main flower for full sun, forgot the importance of planting a mildew-resistant selection after five years of dry summers. This year, mildew attacked California giants, cactus and other heirloom varieties. Dreamland transplants, available at most nurseries, are a mildew-resistant selection.
Calvin Finch Ph.D. is a horticulturist.
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