Regional Gardening Guide - Zone 7-8

July 1 to July 31-- Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.

Here’s what’s happening in your gardening region:

Summer is in full swing! Your vegetables are producing like crazy. Tomatoes you planted early in the spring might be starting to wind down, as are beans, but squash is going strong and okra is starting to ripen. While you keep your current plants growing, it’s time to look ahead, already, to the fall!

 

map for zone 7-8

Your Regional reporter

Katie Peters regional reporter photo

Katie Elzer-Peters is the author of Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening, Carolinas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Southern Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, and many other vegetable gardening books. She lives in coastal North Carolina, where she enjoys four-season gardening.

To see what Katie's doing in her garden. Click Here!

1. Learn about harvesting and preserving vegetables

Hopefully your vegetable garden is producing so much bounty that you can’t possibly eat it all fresh or give it away. Learn how to harvest vegetables so that you get the best flavor from the garden and keep the plants producing as long as possible. Once you’ve harvested, it’s time to preserve. Canning and pickling are becoming more popular with home gardeners. Nothing beats your own fresh tomato sauce or a crunchy pickle. It’s easier than you might think, and we tell you how!

  • Harvesting Vegetables
    When harvest time comes, it comes big-time. For the gardener, the challenge now may be to keep ahead of a tsunami of vegetables. Learn some harvest tips from Burpee.com.
    Read more
  • Canning Basics
    Canning is a great way to keep enjoying your garden bounty all year long. Many gardeners think it’s difficult to do but it’s really very simple.
    Read more
  • Pickling
    Pickles dress up everything from sandwiches to salads. While it
    may seem a complex process to transform a cucumber into a pickle, it's
    actually relatively easy.
    Read more

2. Plant a container vegetable garden

If you’re late to the party, or you want to re-plant a second round of vegetables, but don’t have time to deal with a huge vegetable garden at this stage in the game, container vegetables are a good option. We have several varieties that are compact-growing, quick to bear, and will provide you with a big harvest in a small space. It isn’t too late to plant these peppers, okra, and summer squash.

  • Pepper, Sweet, Tangerine Dream, , large
  • Okra, Baby Bubba Hybrid, , large
  • Squash, Gourmet Gold Hybrid, , large

3. Learn about flower gardening

Keep your flower garden colorful for longer. Where we live, plants can start to look a little ragged in the heat of the summer. You can keep them looking great and growing well with a little bit of TLC. Deadheading is number one on the list. That keeps the plant focused on producing flowers instead of seeds. Once summer heat is past, you can start thinking about fall and winter flowers. The Non-stop Garden and Gardening in the South will help you learn how to plant a garden that blooms all year.

  • Deadheading Flowers
    When you first hear the garden term ‘deadhead’, you might picture friends who wore tie-dye and traveled to concerts a lot.
    Read more
  • The Non-stop Garden - Flowers for Fall
    The flowers of fall are worth waiting all summer for. The flash of asters, the bright spark of goldenrods, and the velvety, Victorian richness of mums push the garden to a crescendo of color even as the days grow shorter.
    Read more

4. Plan a Second Summer Vegetable Garden

In our growing zones we can plant a second round of warm-weather vegetables to enjoy a late summer and fall harvest. Tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers are the easiest to plant now. Summer squash is a good choice, as well. Always select varieties like the ones shown that have a relatively short “days to bear” “days to harvest” number so you get enough to make the effort worthwhile before the frost.

  • Tomato, Sun Gold  Hybrid, , large
  • Bean, Prevail , , large
  • Cucumber, Spacemaster, , large

5. What you need for watering

The heat is on! And so is the water. It’s important to water consistently to keep plant problems such as blossom end rot from becoming a factor in the garden. Lower your water bill by harvesting rain water from your roof. Install a rain barrel. It’s an easy afternoon project. When you use the Ergonomic 7-patter hand sprayer, make sure to aim the water at the plant roots, not the leaves, so that you don’t spread diseases. Finally, if you’re planting new container gardens now, it’s worth it to mix in some Soil Moist to keep the containers evenly hydrated throughout the day.

  • Spruce Creek RainSaver, , large
  • Ergonomic 7 Pattern Hand Sprayer, , large
  • Soil Moist 8 oz Bag, , large