60 July 1, 2006

July is officially here and with its arrival comes warmer weather and a host of gardening chores for you to complete. Let me tell you about a few of the things that you should be doing in your gardens.


Somewhere between the 4th and the 10th of July, we usually see the first adult Japanese beetles arriving in our yards. Whether you have flowers or vegetables in your yard, the Japanese beetle will find something good to eat in your yard. You should be setting up your beetle traps and you should be on the lookout for an iridescent green beetle munching on your plants. There are many insecticides, both chemical and organic, that work well at controlling this beetle.  You should be checking your plants on a regular basis and treating at the first sign of the beetle. Remember that the female beetle lays eggs in your lawn that will turn into grubs. By trapping and killing as many adults as possible, you will cut down on the number of grubs that show up in your lawn.


Tomato plants will be setting their flowers soon. In many areas there are not enough bees to pollinate the flowers. There is a spray that will “pollinate” the flowers. It goes by several names, but blossom set is the common name. This spray will help to “set’ the flowers. As an added bonus, many of the tomatoes will have no seeds. The spray is applied when a cluster of tomato flowers has opened. A quick spray is all that is needed. This spray is particularly useful when temperatures soar into the 90’s. At temperatures above say 85 degrees, the pollination from bees does not always set the flowers. By using the blossom set, you can be assured that the tomato flowers will produce a good crop of tomatoes.


If and when the rain decides to stop, we may get into a stretch of dry weather. If this happens, you should be allowing the grass to remain a bit longer than usual. Taller blades of grass shade the soil and prevent the soil from drying out too fast.


A customer told me the other day that they were not going to plant their window boxes with annuals because it was “too late’ to plant annual flowers. Many years ago, this may have been true. With the introduction of many new varieties of annuals, the one thing that does happen is that the plants grow quickly and produce flowers earlier. If you have not had the time or the right weather conditions to plant annual flowers, don’t think that it is too late in the season. In most years, I don’t get around to planting annuals until late June. By fertilizing the planters on a regular basis, the flowers soon catch up with all the other containers that were planted early in the season.


Many people have also asked if it is too late to plant beans in the vegetable garden. Most varieties of bush beans mature in about 50 days. If the bean seed were planted now, that would mean beans being ready around Labor Day. July, August and September can be some of the best growing months. If you haven’t planted beans yet, you still have time. In fact, early July is a good time to directly seed into the ground, broccoli, cabbage and many of the other Cole crops. Certain leaf lettuces and New Zealand Spinach can also be planted now. Don’t let any space go to waste in your vegetable garden. There is still time to plant vegetables.


The wet weather seems to be favoring the growth of many types of insects. I know that I have told you in the past to keep a sharp eye out for insects in your yard. Yet each day, someone comes into the garden center with a story of how insects have destroyed some type of plant. Take the time each week to check on the plants in your gardens. If you catch an insect problem early on, it is much easier to control the damage caused by an insect.


Well, that’s all for this week. Please drive carefully over the long holiday weekend.  I’ll talk to you again next week.

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