July - What's in Katie's Garden?



In My Garden (Zone 7-8)

Katie Elzer-Peters
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. 

Oh boy, it is hot. Hot, hot, hot. July is the month where I like to simply walk around and look at my garden. If I try to do much of anything between the hours of ten am and six pm the humidity might, literally, kill me. If you work in the garden during the day, make sure to drink plenty of water, and, if you sweat a lot, electrolytes, too.

Plants and Heat
Just as the heat affects you, it affects your garden. My tomato plants will slow down, and even stop, production right around now. Some years I keep them going, while other years I plant a second round at the end of August. Hydrangeas, farfugium, and other perennials wilt in the afternoon sun. Don’t let the heat stress trick you into watering more than the plants need. If they’re still wilted in the morning, give them a drink. If you overwater due to heat you risk causing root rot in the plants due to lack of oxygen in the soil.


Hydrangeas wilting in the afternoon


Your job, as a gardener, is to help the plants get through this period with as little stress as possible. Now is not a good time to transplant or to cut back anything hard. Deadhead annuals and perennials, but don’t do a major haircut until the temperatures drop. Container gardens may need to be watered twice a day at this point. If tomatoes and peppers show signs of blossom end rot test the soil pH (add lime if it is too low) and try to work some soaker hoses around the plants to keep moisture levels consistent.

Plants that Like it Hot
I cannot stop talking about new flower garden! It is doing so well! Rudbeckias, coneflowers, verbena, cosmos, zinnias, and blanket flower are all in full bloom. These plants are thriving in the hot, sunny weather (though a few of them had issues with powdery mildew back in June). Most of these are perennials, annuals, and biennials that I grew from seed. If you want to expand the garden and you have patience and time but not lots of extra cash, this is the way to do it.

You can create your own seed combination that is a mixture of annuals and perennials. The plants described above work well for that. You can add amaranth to the mix, as well. Clear a spot and sow the seeds. The first year most everything will sprout. The annuals will flower, and if you stop deadheading in late summer, they may very well reseed and come up again next year. The perennials and biennials will sprout and grow a healthy crop of leaves. The next year, the perennials will put on a big show. That’s essentially what’s happening here:


Mixture of Annuals & Perennials





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