July at last! This is the month which brings rest, whether in the form of the annual vacation or relaxation in the outdoor living areas of the house and garden. Of course there are chores clamoring for attention – watering, weeding and such – but in large the fever and the garden’s needs have subsided, leaving added hours to be spent in personal enjoyment.
Seeds of biennials and perennials should be started some time soon to insure strong flowering plants next season. Use a light, well-drained soil, and transplant the little fellows in the coldframe or nursery row when large enough to handle. This will give them an opportunity to develop into large, vigorous plants before frosts.
Iris that have finished blooming are hinting that they are ready to be divided. Discard weak and diseased portions, being careful to clean out borers, and replant only healthy outer rhizomes with one or two strong fans of leaves. Avoid animal manures, but mix bonemeal and a chemical fertilizer low in nitrogen into the soil.
Lace bugs at work on the undersides of rhododendron leaves may be sprayed with malathion. Two or three coverings will probably be needed to check the various broods.
Now that the leaves of Spring-flowering bulbs have turned yellow and brown, the bulbs may be lifted, divided or stored in the basement until planting time. Their Autumn-flowering cousins, however, should be planted now. These include the Fall-blooming crocus, colchicum, sternbergia and the exquisite hardy cyclamen. Give the last humusy, well-drained soil and partial shade where they will not be disturbed for years.
Prepare and plant the Fall vegetable garden. Broccoli, carrots, cabbage, onions, chard, beets and others are included in this list of kinds that will mature from July planting, while spinach and lettuce may go in as late as early August.
Grapes, apples, pears and other fruits should be thinned to insure larger fruits of a better quality. Keep up the spraying, too. “All purpose” preparations available in the market make the job easier than ever before.
The greenhouse, whether large or small, should be watched carefully for proper ventilation. Plants need plenty of fresh air, yet droughts and sudden changes of temperature should be avoided.
Annuals, now growing rapidly in preparation for late Summer and Fall bloom, need attention: fertilizing, weeding, cultivating, pinching (for bushiness) and staking. The riot of color they will soon offer will compare favorably with Spring’s great outpouring. If you like the tall-growing cleome or spider plant, consider the variety Pink Queen for its apple blossom pink flowers which are more pleasing than the common magenta.
Mint, sage and other herbs may be gathered before they go to flower for drying for Winter use. Strip leaves from stalks and spread on trays or screens to dry where the sun does not strike them. Other kinds may be collected later in the season, including parsley.
Set out new strawberry plants from runners of old plants, or pot-grown ones may be planted instead. Dig the soil deeply and incorporate enough manure and organic material to promise a bountiful crop. Mulching is highly advisable.
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