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Your Regional Garden News - Zone 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:

 

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    Learn about gardening in the heat

    July is when the heat really starts to bear down on our gardens. Some plants will take a break from flowering and fruiting right now. Your main objective is to keep everything alive, water when it’s dry, fertilize plants that are actively growing, and stay on top of the weeds. Spend time in the garden in the morning and evening when the sun is less intense and always drink plenty of water! Gardener-care is just as important as garden-care this month. Here are some tips about gardening when it’s hot, and an article about how to avoid blossom end rot, which starts showing up right about now, too.

     

 

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    Plant a rainbow of zinnias

    It isn’t too late to enjoy a riot of color in your garden! If something didn’t work out the way you planned, or you find yourself with a bit of empty space, now is a great time to plant a mixture of zinnias. They’ll instantly (well, in about 4 weeks after planting) add color to the garden and, with this mix of selections, you’ll have a good choice for cutting bouquets. Zinnias will grow in almost any soil type, provided they have full sun and are watered regularly—especially while germinating. Candy Cane Mix flowers are two-toned with speckles. State Fair Mix plants have big blooms on tall stems. Cut and Come Again Mix flowers are smaller and contrast nicely with the giant flowers of State Fair. Grab a few packets, mix them together, and sow.

     

 

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    Grow a second round of summer vegetables

    In our area we can plant a second round of summer vegetables in late July to late August. When the first squash, beans, and cucumber plants have bloomed and fruited themselves to death, simply clear them out and sow some more. It’s always a good idea to rotate crops. Switch the beans and squash in the garden on this repeat go. Now is a good time to pick out some tomatoes to start inside (or sow outside) for a second round of fruit in September. Always select varieties with short windows to maturity for second summer season crops: 50-60 days is ideal.

     
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    Learn about cooking your flavorful summer harvest

    Have you run out of creative ideas for cooking and enjoying a bountiful harvest? We have some recipes to bring the diner to the dinner table. Learn how to make your own pizza and healthy hoagies. When in doubt, you can always throw some veggies on the grill, too. Here are our secrets to getting the most out of your vegetable gardens this summer.

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    What you need to make your own compost

    With plants reaching epic proportions in the garden now, you’re probably cutting back, weeding out, and harvesting like mad. That makes now a perfect time to get a compost pile or bin going. A Backyard Composter keeps the pile tidy and tree roots out. The Kitchen Compost Pail lets you store up scraps—without breeding fruit flies under the sink—until you can get out to the pile. In the fall you’ll have lots of dry leaves to add to the pile. They’ll cook down faster if they’re shredded, so prepare now and nab a leaf shredder!

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • "For those hardy souls who grow and eat hot peppers, the latest advice on how to cool a blazing mouth is to eat foods that absorb the heat.
    Because the heat in peppers is produced by capsaicins, which are oils, water does not put out the fire. Instead, eat foods that dissolve or absorb the oils such as avocado, banana, bread, pasta, or potato. Drinking a glass of milk also helps."