July Gardening Tips from the English Lady

Watering is so important during the heat of summer. If you planted trees, shrubs, particularly evergreens in spring which take time to establish a strong root system; they require extra moisture. Plants in New England need at least an inch of water per week.

A regular hose loses 40% of moisture to evaporation. Soaker hoses in your borders are the best method of watering attached to a house spigot with a timer. By using this method of irrigation, moisture goes directly to the roots of plants where it is needed and not on the foliage, which causes disease such as black spot and powdery mildew.

A hose is however necessary for a deep thorough watering when a plant first goes into the ground and for containers as well as for cleaning up messy areas. Soaker hoses attached to a timer can be used not only in the borders of the garden but also in the vegetable garden, as vegetables, especially annual vegetables require a lot of water. However, composted manure is added to the containers and copious amounts to the vegetable garden, the manure will not only retain a good amount of moisture but by using the composted manure as mulch also help to retard weeds. Lawns – water the lawn only when the green glow begins to fade. An established lawn will bounce back after dry hot spells.

As mentioned in the June tips, the addition of composted manure to your soil in spring, early summer and early fall together with a fine bark mulch builds the carbon compound or humus component in the soil. We are carbon-based creatures, as is every living thing, this includes the lifeblood of the garden, the soil. As we build the humus component by adding composted manure and fine bark mulch we produce the healthiest possible growing environment and the strongest disease resistant plants.

This humus component remains in the soil for hundreds of years continuously extracting carbon from the atmosphere into the soil. It is necessary however, to continue to build and sustain the humus component throughout the season.

Roses with the addition of composted manure and mulch about two feet away from the base of the plant require a deep watering at least once a week. In July and August add another few inches of composted manure around the roses; the manure bacteria works with the soil microbes below the soil surface to provide nutrition for the roses, which is all you need for the health and bloom of the plant. However, do not add composted manure around the roses after mid August, as roses need to go into a slow dormancy through late summer and into fall.

 

If you are a first time rose grower or adding to your rose collection, David Austin English roses are my personal preference. These roses are more trouble free than many other roses. David Austin roses are also repeat bloomers, with beautiful colors and with the added bonus of lovely fragrances.
Some of my favorite David Austin roses are:
A Shropshire Lad (my home country in England) a peachy pink
Abraham Darby, shades of apricot and yellow
Evelyn (my favorite) with giant apricot colored flowers
Fair Bianca a pure white rose
Heritage a soft blush pink
Carding Mill begins as a peachy orange double flower, becoming an apricot-pink

A lovely combination is climbing roses and clematis planted together as both enjoy the same planting environment, their heads in the sun and their feet (roots) cool, with manure and mulch. This combination looks great climbing together over a fence, wall or arbor.
As I said above stop feeding not only roses but also the combination of climbing roses and clematis in mid August so both can go into a preferred slow dormancy.

Mulch – do not apply the artificially colored red mulch, rubber mulch or cocoa mulch; use only natural brown bark mulch. Do not mulch right up to the base of the plants, as this invites rodents to nest and gnaw on the stems or trunks of the plants.

 

I want to emphasize the importance of soil and soil health, which has been severely neglected and abused with poisonous chemicals worldwide. Soil is the most important element of plant growth; it is not an inert medium that merely holds the plants erect, it is a living organism that needs to be replenished with nutrients. As previously mentioned apply a few inches of the composted manure three times each season, in spring, early summer and early fall.
Composted manure is not a fertilizer; it builds soils structure and its bacteria partners with the millions of microbes below the surface to produce nutrients for the roots of the plants. Please discard all chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

HYDRANGEAS: Plant Hydrangeas in a sunny area if you live near the coast and in part sun away from the coast. Plant them in organically rich soil with composted manure and add extra composted manure around the base now in July.

If you have the blue Hydrangea add some peat or aged oak bark around the base now as the acidity in the peat or oak bark encourages the intense color. Hydrangeas are a wetland plant and require plenty of water throughout the summer. We had a late spring and even with all the spring rain the foliage and bloom of the hydrangeas and later spells of strong sun, has been slower to emerge. Watch out for powdery mildew and spray with an organic sulfur solution called Safer that you can buy from the garden center.
Or if you are so inclined here is the recipe for powdery mildew you can mix yourself:
Two tablespoons baking soda, one tablespoon of vegetable oil, a squirt of dish soap with a gallon of water in a sprayer. For any recipe spray only in the morning when there is no wind and when the temperature and humidity added together do not go above 180.

Pruning Hydrangeas – prune Hydrangeas immediately after they finish blooming in August and at no other time, as Hydrangeas set their buds for the next season by mid September. If you prune after that time you will lose next season’s bloom. Prune some of the old wood and the weakest of the new shoots. In October put more composted manure and brown mulch around the base to nourish and protect the roots through the winter.

Did you know that garlic is the anti-biotic of the garden I just love garlic to use in my recipes and it is an important anti-fungal element to protect your plants I suggest you plant plenty of it this fall if you do not already have some in the garden?

To avoid fungal diseases plant garlic around strawberries, tomatoes and raspberries to avoid fungal diseases.
Plant garlic around mildew-prone plants to prevent mildew, such plants are summer phlox and bee balm.
Plant garlic under fruit trees to avoid scab and root disease.
Plant garlic next to ponds or standing water to control mosquito larvae, or pour garlic water into the water to keep away adult mosquitoes.
Where you notice marauders where either insects or animals have been munching make a garlic spray to apply on the plants:

Garlic spray recipe
4 large crushed garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
1 squirt of mild dish detergent
Put all ingredients in 2 cups of hot water in the blender, blend, then leave overnight
Then put in a gallon sprayer with cold water and spray in the early morning when there is no wind, observing the rule of 180 (see below for details on rule of 180).

Hot pepper spray – To deter squirrels and chipmunks try a hot pepper spray using either 4 hot chilies or one cup of cayenne pepper in 2 cups of hot water, in the blender, blend and leave overnight then put in a gallon sprayer with cold water and spray the problem areas in the early morning. Observing the rule of 180 which I mentioned above is when the temperature and humidity when added together to not go above 180.
This pepper spray works well on squirrels, chipmunks, deer as well as dogs and cats that may be leaving their deposits in the garden.

HANDS: Gardener’s hands are their tools of the trade so it’s important to look after them. My hands remain healthy by indulging in a hot cream treatment once a week in the evening. , Recipe: Mix together Calendula cream with honey and essential oil of lavender heated in the microwave, apply generously and put on white cotton gloves for sleep. When I wake up my hands are soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom. Also when working in soil that contains manure or spreading manure, wear garden gloves. Manure is an organic product that contains bacteria, the bacteria is great for the soil but like most bacteria not healthy for you and the gloves I prefer are the leather farmer’s gloves that are washable.

 

FLAVORED OILS – Many herbs are at their peak right now and are ideal for using in flavored oils. The oil I use as a base is olive oil. I harvest basil, parsley, sage, tarragon and oregano in a morning, rinse them well, pat them dry with a paper towel and then make the recipe
Chose one of the herbs and add to two cups of oil.
For thyme and lavender, I use only the flowers with one cup of oil to a handful of blossoms.
Puree the herb mixture in a blender and store in a wide mouthed jar for three days, covered and shake at least three times a day for the first two days and on the third day let the mixture settle to the bottom, then strain it through a paper coffee filter or cheese cloth into a clean jar. You will now have a tinted but clear mixture.
Refrigerate each oil and use within two to three weeks. The oils I personally enjoy are lavender, lemon, garlic, shallots and basil with olive oil as the base – these are my favorites and are great brushed on vegetables and meats for grilling. The lavender oil is great with desserts. Rosemary, lemon oil taste excellent on salads.

MOLES: I know I have given you a few mole remedies in the past; but I know I have not given you the exlax method for a while and I can attest to the fact that I have used this method as have many garden colleagues for years and it worked – put exlax into the mole holes, the moles and voles eat it then die of dehydration. By the way the Exlax is made of Senna, which is a natural herb.
If you have dogs and cats do not use the chocolate Exlax use the plain Exlax only as chocolate is dangerous for pets.
Next year, in early April, apply organic grub control, which means less grubs for the moles to feed on, and without their supply of grubs, the moles will go elsewhere for food. Also the white grubs of Japanese beetles can be diminished with the grub control.

Japanese beetles love our plants and the following is one way to deal with them naturally. In the early morning the Japanese beetles are drowsy and can be captured. Lay a drop cloth under the plant or plants where you see them and gently shake the plant; the beetles will drop onto the cloth, which you gather up and drop them in a garbage bag and discard.

Now that many of you are committed to organic gardening without chemicals the earthworm population is once again on the increase; earthworms are a great boon to the garden soil as their castings add 50% nutrition to the soil and eleven trace minerals.

SUMMER PHLOX – I just love my summer phlox and keep the mildew problems at bay with the natural Baking soda mix I mentioned above. Although I have found that white Phlox Miss Lingard or white Phlox David are more resistant to mildew. Monarda commonly known, as Bee Balm and Hydrangeas are also prone to exhibit signs of powdery mildew and the same treatment is in order. For a second bloom to be produced on the Summer Phlox, prune off ten to twenty inches from the flower stems just after the flowers have gone by and within a few weeks you will see new growth.

Deadhead all annuals and perennials for a second bloom and clean up all spend blossoms. KEEP YOUR GARDEN CLEAN – a healthy garden is a clean garden. Do not put any diseased items into your compost.

When Coreopsis and Spirea have bloomed, shear off dead flowers and they too will rebloom.

Containers – Make sure you have composted manure and fine bark mulch added to the soil in your containers and keep them watered as they dry out quicker than garden soil. In hot weather the containers they will need to be watered daily. If you do not have time in a morning before you leave for work or errands, empty your ice cube trays on the containers; this provides slow release watering until you can get to them later.

Tune in and listen to me on WRCH 100.5 FM between 8 and 8.30 am Thursday August 17th and call in with your gardening questions, as I will not be on air in July. If you would like answers to gardening questions or have lecture requests feel free to email me Maureen@TheEnglishLady.com

Enjoy being in the garden, stay hydrated, continue to stretch and take time to ‘smell the roses’.

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