Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What to Do in July

Is July the doldrums of the gardening year? After the initial enthusiasm of starting up the garden in spring, we often find ourselves in a lull as our gardens are flourishing midsummer. Everything is growing well (or has failed), and there doesn't seem to be much to plant. It's hot, and the necessary work of weeding and watering is not very appealing.

One strategy is just to wait. Try to enjoy this period as the plants become self-sufficient, not your little babies anymore. Keep up the weeding as best you can, but as long as weeds aren't choking the plants, it's often a matter of aesthetic preference. You can try watering deeply just twice a week, helping the plants build resilience against drought.

Lettuces and peas will be finishing up, and can be removed and replaced with beans and carrots -- to avoid the annoying sense of "holes" in the garden. Starting now, the tomatoes are producing fast. Cucumbers and squash can be trellised and encouraged to grow upward, so that they don't sprawl all over. Try a simple "teepee" trellis, binding 3 or four poles at the top, and then looping the vines up and around it.

In just a few weeks, mid-August, we'll be in a different mode altogether. Harvesting will be underway in earnest, and we'll be planting cool-weather crops again, and amending the soil. Just wait.

- Andrée Zaleska, Urban Grower