Let’s hope the rain stays away and we have a sunny July. Even if you have lots of gardening jobs to get through, this is the time to relax and enjoy the fruits of all your hard work over the past year. However, try not to overdo it when the weather is hot; save any gardening tasks for the early morning or early evening.

If the weather does heat up many gardeners will be tempted leave the garden to fend for itself. Unfortunately, this won’t help the autumn harvest.

Although your planting may be done, to ensure good yields you need to spend time in the garden to water, weed and check for pests. Some crops will benefit from a modest application of nitrogen fertiliser as they begin to set fruit or start to grow rapidly.

Piling on a thick layer of straw mulch will help reduce the amount of weeding needed and will help keep the soil moist during dry spells.

If using pesticides to control pests, always follow label directions. Use only as much as you need and avoid applying in midday heat, on windy days, or when plants are in flower and bees are present.

If you want to enjoy fresh vegetables throughout the autumn, July is the time to plant crops including root crops (beets, turnips), leafy greens (spinach, lettuce), and cole crops (Brussels sprouts, broccoli). Just because these plants like cool weather, that doesn’t mean they can’t get going and flourish in the heat of July and August, if they are given consistent moisture.

When watering plants, be sure to water well. Actively growing vegetable plants need at least a one-inch deep application of water per week, either from natural rainfall or watering. To prevent foliar diseases, apply water directly to the soil and avoid wetting the leaves of plants if possible.

If you start your own transplants, harden them off before transplanting. The tender plants need time to adjust to the bright light and wind conditions of summer. Exposing them to hot weather too soon may result in leaf burn and wilt. Water well after transplanting and mulch with straw or leaves to retain moisture and keep the soil cooler.

Water Gardens
Clear pond water can be achieved with proper plant balance. If the pond is situated in full sun, 50-70 per cent of its surface must be covered with foliage such as floating heart, water hyacinth or water lily.

Underwater grasses are essential to maintaining water clarity as they utilise the oxygen in the water, which helps prevent algae from accumulating in the pond.
Switch from spring fish food to summer fish food as water temperatures have risen above 70°F. At higher temperatures, fish metabolise at a faster rate, thus creating a need for a diet higher in protein, which the summer food contains.

Lawns
Apply a fungicide to the lawn to control turf diseases. If needed, apply a weed control to the lawn to kill actively growing weeds.

Tips on applying weed killer:-
Do not apply on newly seeded areas.
Do not apply on windy days.
Do not apply near or on the edge of waterways.
Do not allow children or pets to play on lawns freshly applied with weed killer. It is best to wait one week.
Do not apply weed controls when temperatures are above 85°F.
Always follow the label directions.

Other activities for July: prune spring bulb foliage as it dies back, deadhead annuals, renovate strawberry beds after harvest and turn over the compost pile.