PUNCH LIST: Keeping container plants well-watered»
Warm days and nights are the norm for late July. Coreopsis, penstemons and rudbeckias are blooming stars. Tomatoes are ripening, green beans and zucchini are plentiful. Life in the garden is good.
In the landscape
•As outdoor container plants grow larger, so do their root systems. Adjust your watering schedule to twice daily if pots are drying out quickly. Fertilize regularly to keep the blooms coming and container vegetables producing.
•Watch for plants drying out in the landscape. Drip irrigation to plants works well unless they become clogged or broken, or if there’s a split in the irrigation hose. It may be tedious work, but occasionally check each plant after watering to see that plants are well watered. Make repairs as needed.
•Dig and divide crowded bearded iris rhizomes now until mid-August. Division is recommended every three to five years so the plants boom better. Use a garden fork to dig overgrown clumps, and then remove the soil to view the rhizomes (thick roots). Discard any diseased, woody or insect-infested sections. Plant healthy segments of rhizomes that have several feeder roots and a fan of leaves. Cut the leaves back to 6 inches, and then set the rhizomes just below the soil surface with roots spread around evenly. Plant with the leaves facing the same direction so rhizomes won’t grow into each other. Set newly divided plants about 12 inches apart. Water regularly after planting.
•Make time this summer to visit local public and botanical gardens, or do a quick internet search of must-see gardens on your travels. Take notes of plants and groupings you like for future projects (as long as they are ones that will grow here or indoors as house plants).
•Continue direct seeding the next season of vegetable crops for early- to latefall harvest. In this heat, sow additional seeds for better germination, and sow them a little deeper.
•For a handy planting chart for both warm and cool season crops to sow now in to September: https://gardenpunchlist.blogspot.com/2017/07/fallplanting-in-july_22.html
•Renew mulch around vegetables to maintain cool soil temperatures and keep down weeds. Harvest daily as needed.
•Protect winter squash and pumpkins from moist soils and rot by placing on a small piece of wood, cardboard or well-rinsed Styrofoam meat tray from the grocery store.
•Peppers can be harvested as small as 3-4 inches in length. Red peppers need more time on the vine to turn red, but it is OK to harvest them while green. Wear gloves when harvesting hot peppers.
•Store harvested peppers up to 10 days in the refrigerator in clean, perforated plastic bags.
•Harvest cucumbers when small — slicers at 6 inches, picklers at 4 inches. If left too long on the vine, the cucumbers turn yellow and the seeds mature inside, which makes the plant stop producing flowers and fruit. Store up to a week in the refrigerator.
•Summer squash tastes better when harvested small. Store up to a five days in the refrigerator.
Even large containers can dry out at this time of the year. Water twice a day if your pots are drying out quickly.