Monthly Garden Calendar for Southeast United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Don Boekelheide

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JULY

This year, the weather has been much cooler for much longer than usual in the Carolina Piedmont. I was still picking snow peas and harvesting lettuce and cabbage past the middle of June. Some folks are seeing slow growth in peppers and eggplants, which comes as no surprise. On the other hand, folks are already harvesting squash and cukes they put in around April 15.

Organic gardeners (and good gardeners of all philosophies) instinctively understand the deep value both of lovingly tended gardens and wild places. Now, if only the dandelions weren't so eager to grow, and the chiggers so eager to bite...

Water, Water, Everywhere. This month's big job is watering. Water containers daily, vegetable gardens and first season landscape plants two times a week, and everything else about once a week.

Harvest Time. Harvest herbs and veggies on a regular basis. Don't let your zucchini reach cetacean proportions—pick it before you need a harpoon to deal with Moby Zuke. Also, harvest your Irish potatoes when the tops begin to brown and die back.

Start Fall Plantings. Start fall vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. This is also a good time to start biennials and perennials from seed, such as foxglove and hollyhock, for planting out this fall.

Leave Space For Fall Garden Crops. Instead of planting more warm season crops every time a bed of bush beans gets past its prime, I often pick a section to solarize. I also plant cover crops such as buckwheat or black-eyed peas that I dig in before planting my fall crop.

Tomato Tip. If need be, cut up to a third off your tomatoes to keep them from overwhelming their posts or cages. Leave some leaf to protect against sunburn.

Taking Cutings. Take semi-hardwood cuttings of roses, azalea, camellia, holly and other shrubs this month. Select new green-brown stems that "crack" when you snap them. If this is new for you, follow a good guide such as Lewis Hill's "Secrets of Plant Propagation".

Water Roses Regularly. Roses need one inch of water per week. Prune your old fashioned and climbing roses after they've finished blooming. Secure climbing roses to the trellis as they grow. Remove diseased vegetation and deadheaded flowers.

Chop Chop. Clemson University recommends a sharp mower blade to cut the lawn cleanly, ensuring rapid healing and growth. Grass wounded by a dull blade is weakened and less able to ward off weeds, diseases and insect attacks, or cope with dry spells.

Keep Up With Weeding. Don't let summer weeds go to seed. Pull them up and prevent return by mulching and persistence. If you make hot compost, it will probably take care of weed seeds when you put weeds in your pile.

Bag Those Bagworms. Handpick bagworm bags on evergreens. Pesticides are worthless once the caterpillars are safe in their bags.

Liberate Your Houseplants. Many tropical houseplants love to spend at least part of the summer outdoors in Zone 7. All the watering in the summertime causes nutrients to wash out of pots, so feed your container plants every 2-3 weeks with a dilute organic liquid fertilizer or compost tea.

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