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Gardening Newsletter - July 2007 Issue 1


GARDEN (Flowers, vegetables & small fruits)

-Supplement natural rainfall, if any, to supply 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week in a single application.


-Container grown plants may need watering once or twice a day during the hottest months of summer. Maintain vigor by feeding every 2 weeks with a diluted fertilizer solution lower in nitrogen and higher in potassium and phosphorous.


-Spider mites thrive in hot weather. If leaves of plants have a stippled appearance, inspect the undersides of the leaves and look for webbing. Hose mites off the foliage or use an insecticidal soap.


-To extend the blooming season, keep pinching faded flowers off of annuals and perennials. If allowed to go to seed, the plant will direct its energy toward seed production instead of forming new blooms.


-Condition flowers cut from the garden for arranging by removing lower leaves, placing cut stem ends in lukewarm water and storing overnight in a cool location.


-The foliage of spring-flowering bulbs can be removed safely after it fades. This also is a good time to lift the bulbs for transplanting or propagation. If you want to dig up spring-flowering bulbs, wait until tops have died down.


-Divide and transplant bearded iris after bloom. Discard the center of the rhizome and plant the ends. Then cut leaves back to about 6 inches.


-Plant fall-blooming annuals.


-Mulch garden to control weeds and conserve soil moisture preferably with composted material.


-Fertilize vegetable transplants with a 5(N) -10(P) -10(K) side dressing. (See What Do Those Fertilizer Numbers Mean?)


-Stake tomatoes. Do not remove leaves to expose fruit to sunlight. Removing leaves does not hasten ripening and may result in sunscald.


-Harvest crops frequently to encourage further production. Complete succession planting of bush beans and sweet corn.


-Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts to transplant later for a fall harvest.


-Standard sweet corn is at its peak for only a day or so. The supersweet corn maintains its peak quality for a longer period. Harvest when silks begin to dry and kernels exude a milky, rather than watery or doughy, juice when punctured.


-Make sure potato tubers, carrot shoulders and onion bulbs are covered with soil to prevent development of green color and off flavors. Applying a layer of compost mulch will help keep them covered.


-Allow blossoms on newly planted everbearing strawberry plants to develop for a fall crop. July is a good time to fertilize strawberries with .5 pound of actual nitrogen per 100 feet of row.


YARD (Lawns, woody ornamentals and fruits)

-Keep newly established plants watered during dry weather. Allow water to penetrate deeply into soil rather than sprinkling frequently and lightly.


-Apply mulch around young plants to help conserve soil moisture and control weeds. We recommend a much of compost.


-Do not plant bare-root or ball-and-burlap stock at this time of year. Container-grown plants still may be planted, but only if you can keep them well watered.-Prune spring-flowering shrubs if necessary.


-Trees can be pruned lightly to remove dead, diseased, crossing, rubbing and broken branches, but heavy pruning in midsummer can expose previously shaded leaves and bark, resulting in sunscald.


-Continue a fruit tree spray program to keep diseases and insects under control.


-Remove water sprouts (sprouts from the trunk) and suckers (sprouts from the roots) from fruit trees.


-Prop up fruit tree branches that are heavily loaded with fruit.


-Pinch off faded rose blossoms. Continue rose spray program to control insects and diseases.


-When watering lawns, apply 1 to 1.5 inches of water in a single application per week. Frequent, light sprinklings will encourage roots to stay shallow, making them more susceptible to drought.


-Bluegrass is a cool-season plant and is under great stress during hot, dry summers. If water is not applied, the bluegrass will become dormant and will turn brown until more favorable conditions arrive in autumn.


-Mow grass one-half inch higher than usual during the dry, summer months to help conserve soil moisture.


-Don't remove clippings from the lawn unless grass is excessively tall or weedy. Clippings return some nutrients to the soil and do not add to thatch buildup.


HOME (Indoor plants and activities)

-Watch closely houseplants that have been set outdoors. They need more water than they did indoors. They can dry out rapidly in hot, summer breezes.


-Propagate houseplants by taking cuttings from vigorously growing plants. Place cut end in rooting media, such as perlite, vermiculite or peat moss soil mix. Enclose in plastic, and keep out of direct sunlight.



Zone 5b-Purdue University, Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Rosie Lerner

Zone 7b-Washington State University, Horticultural Education, Kitsap County


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The three numbers on the fertilizer bag represent the primary nutrients that plants need. The numbers represent the percentage by weight of the N, P, and K found in the fertilizer.


1. Nitrogen (N) The first number is nitrogen which is necessary for plant growth. Too little nitrogen is recognized by the yellowing of older leaves, slowing or stopping of growth. Too much nitrogen is recognized by extremely fast growth, resulting in long, spindly, weak shoots with dark green leaves.


2. Phosphorus (P) The middle number is phosphorus which is important for healthy roots. It promotes seed germination and fruit or flower production. It also helps with disease resistance. Lack of phosphorus is sometimes recognized by dull green leaves and purplish stems. Too little phosphorus and too much nitrogen can produce lush green foliage with few blooms.


3. Potassium (K) The third number is potassium or potash which is important for general health of plants. Lack of potassium is sometimes hard to recognize but plants are generally sickly, with small fruit, yellowing leaves and sickly blooms.


What your plants need will depend on your soil, the plants themselves and the time of year or the growth cycle that the plants are in. Since all soil is different, it’s best to start with a soil test so you’ll know what your particular soil needs. You can do the soil test yourself by purchasing a soil test kit or you can have your local County Extension Agent test it. Both methods usually cost $15-$20.

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