SIDEDRESSING CROPS AND OTHER JULY GARDENING TIPS
By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor and
Lisa Halvorsen, Garden Writer
July to early August is the time to shift gears from the spring garden to fall vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, and lettuce, among others.
The longer-season crops should be planted by mid-July to ensure sufficient time to mature before the killing frosts of fall. These include snap beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, cucumbers, and early maturing varieties of carrots, such as the smaller Nantes or Amsterdam types. Shorter-season vegetables, including turnips, radishes, and leafy greens, can be seeded until mid-August.
Keep in mind that second crops may be harder to grow because insect numbers are high, temperatures are warmer, and more evaporation takes place, meaning you may need to water more frequently. Plants need at least one inch of water per week, by rainfall or irrigation. Mulching with straw or black plastic helps conserve water.
Till the seedbed a week to 10 days before planting to allow crop residues to decompose. Plant your seeds about twice as deep as you would the same spring crop because the soil surface dries quickly this time of year. Summer's higher temperatures and deeper moisture may mean that plant roots that are too shallow might not get adequate moisture without frequent watering.
By July, many crops planted in spring are ready for a first or second sidedressing of fertilizer. Squash, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, sweet corn, and other heavy nitrogen feeders can benefit from additional fertilizer at time of flowering, and again three to four weeks later. Sidedressing is usually not needed where heavy applications of manure have been made.
To sidedress, apply a band of fertilizer on both sides of a row about four to six inches from the plants. For each 100 feet of row, you will need three to four cups of 10-10-10 fertilizer, or use a balanced organic fertilizer according to label amounts. Applying an inch or so of compost underneath plants before a rain also will benefit the plants.
Japanese beetles appear in full force this month, chewing on roses, hollyhocks, fruit trees, raspberry bushes, beans, and more than 250 other fruit, flower, and vegetable varieties. Hybrid tea roses, both leaves and blossoms, are their favorite.
Although various pesticides can be used to control the infestation, an environmentally kinder method is to knock the beetles into a container of soapy water, where practical. Due to our cold soils, milky spore doesn't work in northern New England as a means of Japanese beetle control. Baited traps are another questionable control option as you may attract many more Japanese beetles to your yard than you trap.
If you plan to enter cut flowers at the fair, remember, when you pick them and how you handle them can mean the difference between first prize or no prize. Pick flowers on the day of the fair, preferably in the morning when the stems are plump with water.
Select only top quality blooms. Cut at a slant near the bottom of the stem, using a sharp knife rather than scissors, which tend to crush stems. Plunge blooms into a bucket of tepid water to transport to the house.
Wash vases in hot, soapy water, rinse, and fill with bath temperature water. Add floral preservative to prevent bacterial build-up that will clog stem ends and cause wilting. Wait until water has cooled to room temperature before arranging flowers. Be sure to remove lower foliage from stems that might be below water to avoid rot and disease
Other activities for July: prune spring bulb foliage as it dies back; renovate strawberry beds after harvest; stake delphiniums and other tall flowers.