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The Homeowners Column
July garden activities
State Master Gardener Coordinator
Most of us put our gardens into a holding pattern in July. We just try to keep the bugs at bay and the weeds wacked. We also spend more time with our watering hoses than our spouses. If you are not quite sure what you should do to keep your garden aloft, here's your checklist and flight pattern for July.
- Monitor for insects and diseases. Early management is best. Check with your local U of I Extension office for identification and management information. UI Extension's website is also a great resource http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/state/hort.html
- Remove any stagnant water to avoid mosquito problems. Consider flowerpots, gutters and birdbaths. Use Bti sold as Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Preventer in rain barrels or other standing water.
- Don't let weeds go to seed. "A year of seeding equals 7 years weeding." Mowing off flower heads can help to lessen weed seed production.
- Water plants if not receiving at least one inch of water per week. Water deeply and thoroughly. Avoid light sprinkling.
- Fertilize container plantings. Water-soluble fertilizers in water work well or try the slow release fertilizers for longer term fertilizing.
- Continue deadheading. If petunias look leggy, trim back to 6-8 inches then water and fertilize for renewed growth.
- Add organic mulches such as wood chips to bare areas in the garden.
- Divide bearded iris -mid July to the end of August when the clump becomes crowded and fewer flowers are produced each year.
- Mow and water as necessary. Raise mowing height to 2 ½-3 inches as temperatures exceed 85 degrees F.
- Decide if lawn will be irrigated adequately at 1-2 inches a week to keep it from going dormant. Do not bring cool season grasses in and out of dormancy by watering sporadically.
- Treat for grubs depending on product and past pest history. Adult female beetles prefer laying eggs in moist soil such as well-watered lawns. Some products such as imidacloprid sold as Merit™ and halofenozide sold as GrubEx™ need to be applied in July in order to be active when the grubs are start feeding.
- Water newly planted trees and shrubs including those planted within the last 5 years.
- Scout for fall webworm nest building near ends of branches. Prune off infested branches or use Btk products such as Dipel or Thuricide.
- If present, treat now for bagworms on arborvitae, spruce and juniper. Look up. They often feed in the tops of trees. Btk will also work on bagworms.
- Keep beans, cucumbers and other crops harvested so plants remain productive.
- Pull up garlic bulbs when the tops start to yellow and dry. Do not wait until the leaves are completely dry or storage life may be shortened.
- Scout for tomato hornworm on tomatoes and peppers. Remove by handpicking. I usually just pinch off the leaf they are munching. Then use your favorite squishing technique. Btk products such as Dipel are also effective but not nearly as entertaining.