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Get It Growing: Your July gardening calendar
By Kamera Muralt and Bill Wrobel
• Class Act seminar on Saturdays, 10-11 a.m., at MG Demonstration Garden, 2711 Woodcock Road, Sequim:
July 10: Aphids Barbara Heckard, Diane Wheeler, Peggy Goette
July 24: Landscaping with Native Plants, Clallam Conservation District Executive Director Joe Holtrop
• Brown Bag Seminars on the second and fourth Thursdays, noon at the Clallam County Courthouse (commissioners meeting room), 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles:
July 12: “Raspberries” with Jeanette Stehr-Green
July 26: “Planting for fall and winter” with David Rambin
• Friday Walks in the Garden on the second Friday of each month (May-October) at the Fifth Street Community Garden, 328 E. Fifth St., Port Angeles, from noon-1 pm. Topics related to vegetable gardening, herbs and other crops will be tailored to what is happening in the garden that month. Join the Friday walks on July 11, Aug. 8, Sept. 12 and Oct. 10. These are fun and educational events!
Rejoice! The cooler days of June give way to the sunny, warm, dry days of July. This is the start of our summer drought with no significant rain expected for the next 45-60 days so plan to spend a lot of time watering as the soils will dry out very quickly. Water early in the morning or late in the afternoon to minimize water loss caused by evaporation. If plants are wilted, water immediately. Water slowly and long enough to soak root zones. Consider providing drip irrigation on a timer to hanging baskets and containers. Otherwise, on hot days, you may have to water twice daily. All new plantings should be watered two to three times a week, even if they are “drought tolerant.” Always water plants before adding fertilizer. Apply 2-3 inches of mulch to garden beds to hold in moisture and discourage weeds.
• Annuals: Sow cosmos, calendula and zinnia seeds now for September color. Nursery bedding plants often go on sale this month, so you might want to fill in open spots with new plants that will keep flowering into early November. Sow pansy seeds in flats early this month for setting out in September. Deadhead faded flowers to extend flowering. Cut back straggly plants to improve their appearance and stimulate a second bloom. Stake sunflowers. Fertilize plants in containers every two weeks, as they lose nutrients from frequent watering.
• Bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers: Divide and transplant crowded spring-blooming bulbs and rhizomes, including bearded iris, if flowering has declined. (See sidebar.) Fertilize dahlias monthly.
• Lawns: Water deeply about once a week or let lawn go dormant by watering once a month. Mow regularly to prevent weed seed spread. Leave clippings behind if they are not too tall or weedy. Do not fertilize the lawn during hot, dry weather. Do not start a lawn from seed now. Sod may be laid if you are willing to water it.
• Perennials: Stake tall plants such as lilies, dahlias, and delphiniums early in their growth. After lilies have bloomed, cut the stalk to just below the lowest flower, the remaining stem and leaves produce energy for next year’s flowers. Harvest lavender just as the buds show color, but before they open. Lightly prune vines and ground covers after bloom to thin and shorten. Prune off about 3 inches from the growing tips of chrysanthemums to produce fuller and sturdier fall plants. Do not fertilize roses after July.
• Shrubs and trees: If needed, prune spring-blooming trees and shrubs including forsythia, kerria, pieris, azalea, rhododendron, lilac and viburnum.
• Berries: Clean up and fertilize June-bearing strawberries after harvest (not day neutral or everbearing strawberries). When first-year canes of erect and semi-erect blackberries reach 4 feet high, top them. Continue organic fertilizing regimen for blueberries (1 Tablespoon fish emulsion in 1 cup water per bush) at beginning of month. (No ammonium sulfate in July.) Cover fruiting plants with netting to protect harvest from birds and other wildlife.
• Fruit trees: Thin plums to 2-4 inches apart on a branch; thin apples and pears to 1-2 fruits per cluster spaced 6-8 inches apart on the branch. Support fruit tree branches that are heavily loaded. Remove water-sprouts and suckers from fruit trees.
• Vegetables: Pull out finished crops; replenish soil with compost. For a fall/winter garden, sow broccoli, carrots, onions, parsley and peas by mid-July and bush beans, beets, kale and lettuce by the end of July. Stop watering garlic as it naturally starts to dry, and harvest when four or five leaves are still green. Gather and dry herbs. Watch tomatoes for late blight and immediately remove infected leaves and fruit including those that have fallen from the plant. It may be necessary to remove the entire plant. Do not compost diseased plant parts.
If you have plant questions, ask a Master Gardener at a Plant Clinic:
Thursdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the courthouse in Port Angeles and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Woodcock Garden, 2711 Woodcock Road, Sequim.
Kamera Muralt and Bill Wrobel are WSU-certified Clallam County Master Gardeners.
Dividing bearded iris
• Divide bearded iris about 4 weeks after they finish blooming, so transplants will be established before winter
• Lift a whole mat of rhizomes from the ground and gently pull apart
• Cut young rhizomes from older segments
• Keep only firm rhizomes 3-4 inches in length, which have roots and a fan of healthy leaves
• Cut back foliage to about 6 inches and replant shallowly (1-2 inches down)
• For the best display, plant in clumps of three about 9 inches apart
• Do not compost old rhizomes or discarded iris foliage because of the risk of nurturing iris borers and foliar diseases
• Mulch and keep well watered