Monthly Garden Calendar for Pacific Northwest United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Debbie Leung

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JULY

I ask friends to water the garden and harvest when I go out of town for a few days. "Please—don't be shy! Feel free to take whatever is ready. Don't save me anything," I beg them. I explain that mature greens that are not cut will bolt and the plants pulled when I return. If kept harvested, more leaves will grow and there will be plenty for me to enjoy later. Broccoli will produce tender side shoots if they are continuously picked, not if they are allowed to mature into flowers that develop into seedpods.

Peas, beans, and zucchini will get plump and huge, finishing the life-cycle of the plant by allowing the seeds inside to develop into another generation. Kept harvested, the plants will keep producing in an attempt to develop those seeds. Revel in the abundance. Eat it, store some, and give away the rest.

Healthy Harvest. Harvest everything 2 to 3 times a week. Dunk the vegetables in cool water soon after harvest, not just to clean them but also to quickly lower their temperature and hydrate them to maintain freshness. The local food bank will appreciate excess produce.

Tomato Tip. Tie fruiting tomato stems to stakes or confine them within cages. Plants of vigorous indeterminate varieties do well in cages made of five-foot tall concrete-reinforcing wire. To trigger ripening and improve flavor, stop or minimize water to the plants that have set fruit by mid-month.

Garlic Advice. It is best to stop watering garlic plants a few weeks before harvest. They are usually ready to harvest when they develop a few brown leaves. Pull one up or gently dig under a plant and harvest them all if the heads are the right size. Varieties ripen at different times but all the plants of one variety usually ripen together.

Seed Starting. Unless there is a reliable supplier of fall or winter vegetable transplants, now is the time to start them from seed. They need summer sowing to get large enough to withstand the rigors of winter. Cabbages, Brussels sprouts, spring leeks, and hardy greens like kale, mustard, and chard can be started now.

Lawn Care. As lawns begin to brown, conserve water by learning to appreciate the seasonal variations of grass as it enters its summer dormancy. To keep it green, water it deeply two or three times a week.

Continue with Compost. Keep compost moist during the dry season.

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