Monthly Garden Calendar for Pacific Coast North United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Amy Stewart

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JULY

Here in northern California, the first heirloom tomatoes make it to market in July. This is the time for enjoying the fruits of your labor—run out to the garden for a few basil leaves, serve just-picked green beans alongside almost everything, and fill every vase in the house with sunflowers. Savor the season!

Need to set up a quick drip system while you're on vacation? Check out Gardener's Supply Company's new Big Drippa. These water-filled pouches allow moisture to drip slowly into the soil without any connection to a faucet or hose. They vaguely resemble IV bags; I can just imagine some gardener, recovering from surgery, anxious to get back to the garden, getting inspired from the slow and steady IV drip. No matter how it came about, it's a brilliant idea.

Don't Forget To Deadhead. Continue to deadhead flowering perennials, and cut back shaggy growth on catmint, alyssum, lobelia, and anything else that's looking tired. It'll renew itself in time for another bloom in fall.

Revive Your Plants At The Roots. Water at the root zone to prevent evaporation. In particular, avoid spraying the leaves of vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, and squash, which are vulnerable to powdery mildew.

Beautiful Bulbs. Allow summer-flowering bulbs to keep their green foliage. A meticulous gardener at a local winery braids the leaves of each bulb when the flowers die back. Is that taking it too far? It's your garden; you decide.

Start Your Sprouts. It may be hard to think about winter right now, but if you start some Brussels sprouts from seed this month, you'll be glad you did come Thanksgiving.

Harvest Time. Potatoes planted in March are probably ready to be harvested now. Just wait until the tops have bloomed, then dig. I plant potatoes in loose, rich soil and just use my hands to brush the dirt aside and pull out the goods. To cellar potatoes for later, layer them in a box of shredded paper or straw and store in a cool, dark cellar or garage.

Time To Divide The Irises. Just cut off the healthy rhizomes with leaves attached, throw away the center part that is not producing leaves, and re-plant.

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