Garden Tips for July

(with excerpts from UMass Extension Garden Clippings)

Be watchful for insect pests. Lilies (Lilium) may have lily leaf beetles. These are bright red and may be more obvious from their larvae and eggs.  You may also find Japanese beetles, Mexican bean beetles, and Colorado potato beetles. Some beetles are easy to handpick and dispose of. You can also use Bayer systemic, Sevin, or Neem. Read the labels thoroughly before using!

If necessary, this is a good time to manage white grubs in your lawn. If you are using a grub control product with the active ingredient imidicloprid (Merit), use it this month. Water it in thoroughly for most effectiveness.

(If you're concerned about insect pests, check out this New England Pest Resource site)

Check out Spinosad, a relatively new class of insecticides available to homeowners. It is technically a nerve toxin that works both on contact and by ingestion. However, it is classified as having an extremely low toxicity to mammals, including humans. Spinosad is labeled for use on fruits, vegetables, trees, and shrubs, and fills well into most Integrated Pest Management programs. Spinosad products have a great track record for use against all caterpillars of all ages and have been shown to persist for about one week after spraying under normal circumstances. It can be quite toxic to bees at the time of application, but once the spray dries on the plant this toxicity to bees is greatly reduced.
(Info from Bob Childs, UMass Extension Entomologist)

Beware of Late Blight caused by Phytophthora infestans - a very destructive and very infectious disease that kills tomato and potato plants.
More information here.

Slugs have been rampant this year. Use Sluggo, which is pet friendly and will eradicate slugs.

Deadhead annuals such as snapdragons, calendula, marigolds and zinnias to keep them blooming all summer. A light fertilizer such as 5-10-10 will give them a quick pick-me-up.

Side-dress crops such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes and winter squash with a balanced fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 10-10-10.

Keep pruning out suckers from indeterminate tomato varieties. Check for hornworms (you'll find small holes in the leaves). Hand-pick and remove them.

Raise your mower blades for the rest of the summer. When it's hot and dry weather, lawns are best if they're mowed at 2 1/2 - 3 inches instead of shorter. The higher the top of the grass, the deeper the roots - which keeps the lawn healthy.

Be watchful of the amount of rain your yard gets in a week.  A rule of thumb: Most plants need at least an inch of water per week for healthy growth.

Watch for powdery mildew on phlox. Although some phlox varieties are resistant to powdery mildew, many of the older phlox aren't. One easy thing to do: Remove debris and dead leaves; remove some stems - especially in the center of the plants - to provide for more air movement; water only early in the morning so that leaves dry out quickly. Spraying with Daconil in advance of overcast, cool, humid weather is a good preventative as well.

Don't let weeds go to seed. They can produce thousands of seed!