JULY IS HERE AND CAN BE ONE OF THE HOTTEST MONTHS OF THE YEAR. BE PREPARED TO GIVE YOUR PLANTS A LITTLE EXTRA TLC.
Before I get into the list of gardening chores for July, I want to do a little re-cap of June. For the month of June, we had close to average temperatures. The official rainfall was 5-inches, which is an inch below average. I know some of you had much more rainfall this month, with heavy, isolated downpours. Most of this official rainfall occurs in the first half of June. After the 13th, the rain has shut down. The second half of June has been hot and dry.
ALERT!!! JAPANESE BEETLES ARE HERE!!!
Every day I am talking to customers about the plant damage being done by active Japanese beetles. Japanese beetles love to eat on our beloved roses, crape myrtles, grapes, and other plants. The life cycle of the Japanese beetle consists of four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Female Japanese beetles will leave the plant that they are feeding on to find ideal conditions and soil to lay eggs in. The females will lay anywhere between one to five eggs throughout the area they choose. When done with this egg laying process the females return to a food source (i.e. roses, crape myrtles, etc.) to continue feeding until another mating cycle occurs, where this process is repeated all over again. This process will repeat itself until the female lays over 40 eggs throughout her life cycle (2 months).
WAYS TO CONTROL THESE UNWELCOME INSECTS
Beetle Traps: Traps are a great means to control beetle populations. Place these traps at least 25 feet away from the plants that are being damaged. The lure inside these traps will draw bettles to the trap and away from plants.
Chemical Controls: Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew is excellent. Its main content is Spinosad. Spinosad is regarded as a natural product and approved for use in organic gardening. Spinosad is safe for birds and mammals. It can be toxic to bees, but once dry it is considered negligible. So, timing is very important. Because bees do not fly late in the day or after dark, Spinosad should be applied late in the day.
- July is a good month to give your flowering annuals a trim. Trimming blooming annuals will encourage new growth and more blooms. Also, once pruned, it is a good practice to feed your flowering annuals monthly.
- During hot July weather, be sure to mow your lawn to the appropriate height, about 3 to 4 inches. This reduces water loss and helps lower soil temperatures. Leave grass clippings on the lawn to decompose, as this adds nitrogen back to the soil.
- Check your needled evergreens, such as junipers and spruce for red spider mites, a problem on conifers during hot, dry weather. Test for mite presence by shaking some of the foliage over a white piece of paper. Then, inspect the paper carefully for small, moving red specks. If red spider mites are present, apply an appropriate insecticide that lists mite control.
- Don’t be alarmed with trees dropping leaves. Trees may lose up to 10% of their leaves during very hot, dry conditions. It’s natural! Dropping leaves will help reduce water loss from the tree by transpiration, and does not harm the tree.
- Keep up with the weeding! Don’t let summer weeds go to seed. Personally, I love spending time outside and hand-pulling weeds. I use no herbicides this way. Plus it gives me something to do outside. Bending over and moving around is good exercise.
THE GLORY OF GARDENING: HANDS IN THE DIRT, HEAD IN THE SUN, HEART WITH NATURE!!