Gardening in July

Rain, rain, rain, and more rain! I hope to hoe weeds in the garden tomorrow, but I might have to lay down cardboard so I don’t sink down in the mud. All the tomatoes are blooming and I have picked a few little yellow tomatoes that mysteriously did not make it to the house.

The wet weather has been tough on my pepper plants. They just seem to be sitting “still” and waiting for hot weather. The okra continues to grow, but no blooms yet. The cucumbers are blooming away and I have sliced onions and cucumbers chilling in the fridge.

How is your garden doing? My basil is not enjoying all the wet weather. The deer have eaten all my Hosta leaves down at the cabin and have actually moved closer to the house. The Asparagus ferns in my pots on the porch have been stripped and my poor pansies were eaten to the ground.

I had hoped that the leaves on my Big Blue Hosta would be too tough to eat … wrong.

As I watch the doe with her twin fawns romp around the Spruce trees in the lower yard, it is hard to smile after the destruction they have caused this year.

The butterflies are enjoying the mud around the property. The Zebra Swallowtails were happy to pose for a photograph. They are Ohio’s smallest swallowtail and among the showiest. Their host plant is the Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), a shrub or small tree of rich woods, particularly on stream terraces. July is a great time to get out your butterfly reference book and walk around your gardens.

My favorite Garden Almanac list includes the following tasks for the month of July:

Turn the compost pile – remember to balance the “wet and green, brown and dry”; keep up with weeds in garden beds; water your garden during periods of drought – plants most vulnerable to the effects of drought include seedling, young plants and recent transplants; finish transplanting annuals; fertilize container plants regularly; stake tall plants growing in windy sites; cut spent perennials to the ground to encourage new growth; deadhead flowers to prolong bloom time; cut back daffodil leaves after they turn yellow; continue planting broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower transplants for fall crops; continue direct-seeding vegetable and herb crops; beginning mid-month, direct-seed vegetables such as spinach for fall crops; harvest onions and garlic after the tops start to yellow and die back; harvest and dry herbs for winter use.

Give your vegetable garden at least 1 inch of water per week during periods of drought. Remember that leafy crops such as lettuce are especially sensitive to dry soil, and will develop bitter-tasting leaves or set seed prematurely as a result.

Have you ever considered planting an edible edging in your flower bed? Lettuce – especially colorful or frilly-foliaged leaf varieties – can be used instead of sweet alyssum, or other low-growing annuals that are often used to edge flower beds.

Now is the time to be taking notes on your developing color schemes in your flower beds. Watch how your garden evolves during the growing season and how you can improve it by adding, subtracting, or rearranging elements of color.

Don’t forget to email your gardening questions to Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer Mike Hannah at

I hope that your gardens are growing and that we will all be enjoying the rewards of our labor soon.