PUNCH LIST: Keep­ing con­tainer plants well-wa­tered»

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Betty Cahill Betty Cahill speaks and writes about gardening in Colorado. Visit her at http:// gar­den­punch­list .blogspot.com/ for more gardening tips.

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.

Veg­etable har­vest

•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.

Betty Cahill, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

Even large con­tain­ers can dry out at this time of the year. Wa­ter twice a day if your pots are dry­ing out quickly.

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