Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?
Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—” ~ Emily Dickinson
For most of us in the northern hemisphere July means summer. Chickens are a-laying, sparrows are fledging, our gardens are lush with ripe fruits and vegetables and all sorts of flowers.
July is also the seventh month of our calendar . . . and the number seven is the number for security and restfulness. There are seven days in the week, the rainbow has seven colors (Happy Pride Month), and there are seven notes in the diatonic scale. Seven is a lucky number for those born under the signs of Pisces and Cancer. I was born on July 5th.
Because we gardeners in Zone 10 have such a long period of warm months we can practice successive sowing and can get at least two full cycles of our summer crops. After your first harvest you can have another round of seeds germinating. When your first round of summer crops mature and come to harvest, you can start pulling them out as soon as production drops off and before pests or diseases start to take hold. Swap the spent plants out with your fresh batch of transplants and enjoy another full harvest of vibrant, healthy summer crops.
What to plant in July
Warm-weather veggies like beans, corn, squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and watermelons can all be sown directly into the ground. Root vegetables (beets, carrots) do not transplant well, so start seeds directly in the soil outside. Peas are also best seeded into the ground; do not transplant. Cole crops like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage could be direct seeded, but because of the heat of mid- and late summer, it’s better to start them indoors and then transplant them into the garden.
Do your transplanting in the late afternoon or evening so plants have the whole night to begin to recover before they’re hit with a full day of sun and heat. Water the transplants well and provide shade from the intense midday sun. Water enough to keep soil around transplants moist for at least a month until they’re well-established. Mulch transplants to lessen evaporation so your irrigation water lasts longer. Keep the soil moist and shaded until they’re up, and then gradually allow them more direct sun over a week’s time.
It’s wet and rainy, in fact too wet for some things to grow happily. Let your geraniums dry out between waterings, and herbs, too. At the viveros, you will find dahlias, gazanias, larkspur, lobelia and monarda. You may have to protect some things from too much water, particularly new seedlings in flower and vegetable gardens. And it’s still quite hot. Keep up with the garden pests and beware of diseases like powdery mildew. Flower seeds to think about planting are asters, balloon flower, cone flower, lobelia and freesia. You can still plant Swiss chard, peppers, eggplant, leeks and okra.
Container gardening gives you an opportunity to add more interest to your patios and terraces and also to move things out of heavy rains and hot sun. With the heavy rains, fertilizers leach out of the soil very quickly. Compost helps.
Keep high-nitrogen fertilizers away from beans, beets, carrots, parsnips, sweet and white potatoes, and tomatoes, or there’ll be more foliage than fruit. As veggie gardeners, we’re pulling a lot of nutrition out of our soil every time we harvest, so make sure you’re amending with high-quality compost and organic matter.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com