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Playing in the dirt: Timely tips for July gardeners


Sharon Carrigan

Sharon Carrigan



Sharon Carrigan



July is the All-American month! The Fourth of July, fireworks, hot dogs -- or maybe your menu runs to hamburgers or ham or even steaks on the grill. Whatever your pleasure this month, there is no disputing that the heat and humidity is here. Despite those two little flies in the summer ointment, there are more fun things to do in July than just eat hot dogs: there was National Strawberry Sundae Day July 7 and National Blueberry Day on the 8th. We'll celebrate National Ice Cream Day and National Spinach Day on the 16th, Peach Ice Cream Day on the 17th, National Raspberry Cake Day on the 19th, and many more. If you'd like to celebrate these days with your own home-grown bounty, come join the Master Gardeners class next February. Watch for the announcement in the paper in January or call your county's Extension service. 


Now for some timely gardening tips.  


July to-do 


n Planting: Plant pumpkin seeds for a Halloween harvest; Portulaca (aka moss rose) or marigolds will fill in bare spots left by spent annuals; azaleas, boxwood, camellia, gardenia, holly or poinsettia can be rooted in coarse sand by taking cuttings from new growth and stripping the leaves off. For fall color plant marigolds, zinnia, celosia and Joseph's coat now. Day lilies can still be planted. Plant fall veggies such as cabbage, parsley and collards. 


n Fertilizing: Chrysanthemums should be fed around the middle of the month. Feed all the garden as in March; also feed lawns with well balanced fertilizer. Do not feed camellias after July 1. 


n Pruning: Remove faded crape myrtle flowers to encourage a second bloom. Mums should be cut back by about one third for best fall show. Roses should be pruned to encourage fall blooms. Pick veggies from the garden regularly to encourage continued production. If pruning boxwood into a hedge, make sure to prune wider at the base than the top to allow sun to reach the bottom branches. 


n Mulch: Azaleas and camellias should be mulched to a depth of at least 2 inches. Mulch annuals such as zinnias and mums to cut down on weeds and conserve moisture. 


And here's a vacation tip: Do not leave house plants in a closed up house while you are away. Either water well and place under a tree or in some other shady spot, or entrust the watering to a friend or neighbor. 


Now that you know what to do out there, let's go play in the dirt. 


Sharon Carrigan of Columbus shares these gardening tips on behalf of the Lowndes County Master Gardeners.



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