Early July Garden Tips and Chores

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Early July is the perfect time to do a little garden make over in the veggie garden and with your potted plants. One question we get a lot - Is it too late to plant beans? Not at all! I recommend that you plant bush beans in small amounts, but every 2 weeks or so for a continuous harvest all summer long. A good rule of thumb is that for every handful of beans you want to harvest, grow about 2 feet of beans. The seeds should be sown about 2 inches apart in a shallow trench about 1/2 inch deep. Seeds should be covered as deep as they are tall, so not too deep. Press the soil down gently with the palm of your hand, and water thoroughly. The seeds will germinate in a few days, and when they are about 6 to 10” tall, you can plant another small patch. I do just 4 or 5 feet at time usually. And if you want to have a large amount of beans for pickling or freezing, make sure that one of your generations is really big. Having a big bean batch is perfect if you are prepared for the harvest bounty. If you just want a few meals’ worth of beans during part of the summer, a small patch is just enough. Too many beans can feel overwhelming and cause you to feel guilty about not harvesting in time. We don’t want that. My favorite variety is Provider. They are really dependable and can be planted from late May all the way to August 1st. So you have another month of bean planting ahead of you. They are the perfect thing to throw in the garden where you may have cleared out a patch of salad greens from an early planting.

Speaking of clearing out spots in the veggie garden, now is the perfect time to use those cleared out spots for fresh batches of cut flowers, scallions, fennel, greens, lettuces, and beets. It is fine to sow beets up until mid-August. I always tuck scallions into little corners of the garden, and lettuces can go into the shade of the tomato plants. If you want a big batch of pesto, plant lots of basil now - if you planted basil early in this cool and wet spring, it might not be happy right now, and you will be better off with a new planting. You will see the difference warm soil makes - basil is much happier planted in July than in May. Cut flowers are such a fun thing to add to the garden - some of my favorites for right now are scabiosa (we have three or four colors available), annual asclepias (a milk weed relative that is a stunning orange and red color), celosia for hot colors and fun texture, sunflowers, euphorbia ‘snow on the mountain’, snapdragons, and lisianthus. Our plants are big and healthy and will start blooming in just a couple of weeks from the time you transplant them.

If you are interested in making a big batch of salsa with your tomato harvest, make sure to plant some cilantro now. Pickles in your future? then plant more dill now too. You should probably plant dill from transplants if your cucumbers are going to be ready soon or you can do it from seed if your cucumbers are timed to be ready in mid-August. You have control over so much in the garden, and there is no reason to have a crazy jungle and bounty all at once. Timing is everything!

On that note, I just took a look at our top Google searches that send people to our website, and was surprised that for three years, our most popular page is this one. Cilantro and dill bolt (go to seed) and that is just their life cycle. The best way to cope with that is to plant often. Both from seed and from plants - it will give you two generations at once if you do that. If you are eager to make lots of salsa this summer, make sure to replant cilantro so that it is ready at the right time - now from seed or early August from plants. We also have another Mexican herb called Papalo which some people love to use as a substitute for cilantro. They don’t taste the same, but are equally delicious in a salsa, and papalo has a summer long harvest window - no need to replant. Next time you visit, feel free to try a leaf from the plants in the greenhouse…we are curious what you think!

Another chore for right now is feeding your containers. As heat sets in, many annual plants will feel stressed. Keep them well watered, and give them a little boost against the stress with a good, well balanced fertilizer. My absolute favorite is Compost Plus from Vermont Compost Company. It is a compost based fertilizer with all the micro nutrients plants need to thrive all summer long. Just sprinkle a handful or two on the top of the soil around the base of each plant, then scratch it in a little, and water gently to soak it it into the soil. I use it on houseplants, hanging baskets, all my potted annuals, and hanging strawberry plants.

And finally, some homework. Please make sure to just enjoy the garden. Sitting with morning coffee, wandering through in the evening with a glass of rosé, taking a morning stroll of appreciation, sitting quietly to hear the birds and watch the bees….creating these moments for myself has been the most important part of gardening lately.