July Gardening Checklist: Edible Plants
With the help of many gardening friends I have attempted to offer on these pages some useful information to help you with your own garden. Gardening is sharing. Any corrections, comments or suggestions are appreciated and will improve future information. Edible plants are the focus of this NoteStream. Also see our NoteStreams on Flowering Plants, Fruit Trees and more.
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The information, dates and techniques in this blog are as accurate as I can currently offer.
During the past three decades I have cared for, nurtured and observed tens of thousands of plants. With the help of many gardening friends I have attempted to offer on these pages some useful information to help you with your own garden. Gardening is sharing. Any corrections, comments or suggestions are appreciated and will improve future information.
The rampant new growth of spring is slower now as the plants direct their energy toward fruit production.
Be sure the canes are well supported to prevent damage later. Some early fruiting varieties may have ripe fruit now. Harvest the fruit when it is fully formed and well colored. If birds or wildlife are a problem, protect the plants with nearly invisible black nylon netting.
Assuming the use of a granular organic product, the feeding of grapes is in six to eight week intervals following the first application, which was applied when the new growth was just emerging. Following this schedule, four applications are usually sufficient.
Grapes need a well-balanced fertilizer that contains trace minerals.
Organic products usually are a good choice. Continue irrigating regularly and deeply in the warm summer temperatures. Watch for signs of powdery mildew on the foliage. Usually this is due to poor air circulation around the plant, too much shading, or the lack of a winter dormant spray. If treatment now is necessary use an organic Neem oil product.
There is still plenty of time to plant basil.
Keep pinching the flowers off as they develop. Flowers not only reduce the quantity and size of the foliage, but change the flavor of basil as well. Many perennial herbs can be planted nearly year-round, even during the hot summer if they are watered carefully. These include marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, feverfew, lavender, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemon verbena, St. johns wort, tansy, tarragon and thyme.
Don’t attempt to start new plants from the runners (some references suggest this).
They never produce as well as new plants, put in fresh each fall or winter. Keep watching for signs of spider mites. If they attempt to grow runners, pinch them off. Keep feeding them and they will continue to bear fruit. Watch for signs of spider mites by checking the foliage periodically. Rinsing the leaves with overhead watering occasionally will reduce this pest problem considerably. Bait, trap or hand pick snails and slugs regularly to avoid fruit damage.
(See also the information under Avocados, and Citrus in this NoteStream)
These are all growing well now. Keep feeding with a general-purpose organic fertilizer. Most tropicals and sub-tropicals have a higher need for trace minerals like iron, zinc, manganese and others. Organic fertilizers generally contain lots of these trace minerals and work especially well in the warm soil temperatures present now.
This is a good time for planting these heat lovers, but keep them well watered to help them get established. Watering should be frequent now, but most tropicals and sub-tropicals are particular about quick soil drainage.
Warm-season vegetable can still be planted, but keep them well watered.
From transplants or seeds, plant beans, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, peppers, squash and tomatoes. Corn, melons, pumpkin and sunflowers are best planted from seed. If you didn’t plant them last month, plant pumpkin seeds for Halloween fruit. July 4 is about the latest that seed can be started for a successful Halloween harvest.
If you plant later in the month you can still have good pumpkins in time for Thanksgiving. If your March/April planted tomatoes are still looking good and producing well then let them keep going. However, in many cases they are beginning to decline. Consider pulling this first crop out and plant a second crop now for a late summer and fall harvest.
Beets, carrots, chard, radish and possibly turnips can be planted just about year-round.
All but chard are planted from seed only. Be extra diligent about keeping the small seeds watered in this hot weather. If strawberries attempt to grow runners, pinch them off. Keep feeding them and they will continue to bear fruit. Keep tomato plants trained inside their cages or alternatively up sakes or obelisks. If growing corn, be sure to keep it continually fertilized and well watered. Lapses in either will result in a poor yield.
Keep planting corn from seed this month. Because corn needs to be cross-pollinated it must be grown in clumps or rows. Twelve plants is about the minimum for good pollination and twenty or more is even better. Plant crops successively every three to four weeks for a continual harvest. If planted in small groups, hand pollinating will provide fuller ears.
Since most annual vegetables are shallow rooted and quick growing, feed them regularly with a well balanced organic fertilizer.
Keep the vegetable garden well watered during the hot summer. Check tomato plants for hornworm caterpillars. Hand pick them or use the safe and organic BT spray. Harvest your crop frequently, before they get too large or past their most flavorful period. They will grow and mature quickly in the August heat. If you planted bulbing onions last fall, this is still a good month for harvesting. Don’t let them stay in the ground much longer.