Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Freedom from Gardening in July!

July, hot, humid, and the start of the dog days of summer.  A time to reflect on what you have done, enjoy the results of your efforts thus far, and anticipate the harvest to come.  July gives us permission to slow down, and take a break, from gardening chores, and the heat.  Or does it?

Gardening in July has its challenges.   It is hard to keep the beds moist for sprouting, due to the  hot temperatures and the even hotter soil temperatures.  Many of the cooler weather seeds will not germinate in soil temperatures of 85 degrees or higher.   Anything that is able to grow, needs to have a maturity date prior to the first killing frost.   Plants that are heat tolerant/cold sensitive have just enough time to mature before cold weather sets in, slowing, stopping or killing them.  Plants that are heat sensitive/cold tolerant need to be planted late enough to avoid the heat, yet early enough to take on the cold.   Consider beans, beets, carrots, cucumber's, chard and even corn in July

July 4, the 185 day of the year (186 leap year), also known as Independence Day in the US.  It marks the time to trim back mums and other plants and shrubs to stimulate fall flower production, strengthen stems,and  encourage  berry production, with enough warm weather remaining, before fall.   Keep an eye on garlic planted last fall.  The tops begin to turn yellow and fall over, signaling that it is close to harvest time.  (I actually harvest soft neck garlic today!)

July is also the time to start planning your fall garden, ordering seeds and starting your indoor seedlings.  For fall planting, cabbage and broccoli need at least 8 weeks in the ground before the first frost.  To compensate for the shorter days, add 3 weeks to the "days to maturity" on the seed packets for direct sowing.  Take that number and count back from the "average frost date" for your outdoor planting.  

About 12-14 weeks before the first frost date, start seeds of cole crops indoors.  This is also your last chance to direct sow warm season vegies of beans, cukes, and squash.  Opt for fast-maturing varieties.

10-12 weeks before before the first frost date, seedlings started indoors should be ready to be set out.  Try quick growing peas and potatoes, and direct sow lettuce, radish, beets, carrots etc.

8-10 weeks before the first killing frost, continue to direst sow lettuce and radishes, along with turnips, spinach, and other cold hardy greens.

At 6-8 weeks before the first frost, do a final sowing of your most winter-hardiness crops.  Incorporate hoop houses, tunnels, or cold frames to extend the gardening season.

And don't forget garlic and onions shortly before the first frost date!

Happy fourth and happy gardening!

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