As soon as things dry out, get going on some of your summer gardening chores. The rain has undoubtedly set you back some, and may have even caused you to forego some of your usual activities in the landscape and garden. Just remember that you don’t want to tramp through soggy soil unless you have to. If you go out to pick tomatoes, it will compact the soil.
Watch out for Japanese beetles. This is their time of year, and this year they seem to be quite prolific. Several products are on the market to help control them, but any spray or dust has to be reapplied after a rain. You can remove the beetles by hand, dropping them into an empty milk jug, or knock them into a pail of soapy water. You might also try using a hand-vac to remove them if you can do so without damaging foliage.
Keep the blooms on annuals and perennials coming by deadheading as soon as flowers begin to fade. Hopefully, you have been able to cut and arrange some bouquets from your garden flowers. Wait until later in the summer or early fall to let a few flowers remain on and form seed that you can save.
Look for sales. Check out the discount and sales sections of garden centers. Give plants a good looking over to be sure you can bring them back from the brink. Some stores will also be cutting prices on seeds and supplies, so watch for deals and stock up.
During the month of July, you can make second plantings of pole string beans, pole lima beans and bush lima beans. Plant Southern peas and rutabagas. Start transplants of collards, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant and tomatoes.
A frequently asked question among gardeners is, “How late can I prune my azaleas?” July, before the plant sets its flower buds for next year, is the latest you should prune if you expect to have flowers in the spring.
Weeds have thrived in this wet weather — in the lawn, the landscape and the vegetable garden. Hoeing and hand-pulling are the best ways to handle weeds around food crops. Put down a good layer of mulch to discourage leftover seeds from sprouting.
When using weed killers, either spray or granular, around ornamentals and in lawns, read directions carefully. Be sure the product is labeled for the specific weeds you are trying to get rid of. Also be sure it is labeled as safe for use on the type of grass or around the ornamentals you do not want to harm. Always avoid applying herbicides on windy days or right before a rain.
Planning an extended out-of-town trip or vacation? If you have houseplants or a vegetable garden, you may want to ask a gardening friend to watch over things for you, watering and harvesting as needed. You can return the favor when they go on vacation or let them keep the produce they pick in exchange.
Have you snapped some pictures of your garden yet this year? And I don’t mean that new pond in your backyard created by our massive amounts of rain. When the sun shines, get out your camera and snap pictures of the flowers and plants that are really outdoing themselves this year. If nothing else, you can post them on Facebook.
Remember to keep tabs on local pick-your-own operations and roadside stands for fruits and vegetables that you don’t grow yourself and that are only available for a short time period. Blueberries, for example, are in full production right now, so don’t let the opportunity to load up on them pass you by.
Contact the writer: 138 Nature’s Trail, Bamberg, SC 29003.