“If it rains on the first ‘Dog Day’ (July 3), it will rain for forty days.”
From Secrets of a Kentucky Gardener by Karen Angelucci
15 Minutes gardening
Prevent herbs from going to flower or seed. Snip a handful of herbs, rinse, chop, fill ice cube trays and freeze to use in summer drinks or winter stews.
- Deadhead to force flowering plants to fool the plants in producing more flowers.
- Daylilies: As they cease blooming divide and replant.
- Ivy: Thicken ivy by watering it with a mix of ¼ teaspoon ammonia to a gallon of water every two weeks.
- Hollyhocks: Condition hollyhocks by putting the cut stem in boiling water for a few seconds.
- Container Gardening Keep container plants moist. Watering at night allows the plant to soak up water and start the day well hydrated. Bury the end of one end of wet cotton rope in the container plant’s soil and the other in a container of water. Place ice cubes on container plant soil to give it slow release water.
- No more moth balls: Once a popular animal repellent, never use moth balls around plants to control or repel animals. They are EPA-certified only for use in a sealed container for clothes moths only. The ingredients are not initially poisonous but can cause serious problems that can be lethal.
- Beware of commercial compost: Do not use commercial compost if you garden organically. Insecticides may have been used on the composted plant material and they may break down or not.
- Conditioning hollyhocks and dahlias, immediately place cut stems in water. Recut, dip in boiling water and then singe the stem ends.
- Watermelons contain lots of water, but do not need excess water as they originated in arid areas and are adapted to storing water. Reduce water are they start to mature and avoid getting leaves wet as to reduce rot.
- Garlic: Cut flowering society garlic to the ground to prevent going to seed. The seed have a high germination rate and soon will invade other plants. Cut flowering stems to dry readily for fall decorating.
- Harvest herbs by cutting back at least 1/3. Sweet marjoram, oregano, sweet thyme and thyme respond to cutting to the ground. Gather bunches with elastic to hold them as the stems shrink and using a drapery hook, hang in a cool, airy, dark place to dry.
- Tomatoes need 6 hours of full sun for best production. Big Girl tomato plant (Burpee) requires only 5 hours of sun.
- Plant pumpkin (90-120 days to mature) until July. Soak the seed 6-24 hours before planting to soften the hard-shelled seed. As the fruit grows, inscribe a design or drawing for special Halloween decorations.
- Replace mower blades and have the old sharpened. Keep beds clean and cut grass from piling up around trees, mow away from the tree trunks.
- Protect the trunks: String weeders are wonderful when edging beds and walks but can be deadly to trees when they break the bark, permitting insects and disease to enter. To prevent damage, place a one-liter plastic drink bottle around the base of the trunk. Cut off the top and bottom of the bottle, and slit along one side. Secure in place by mounding mulch or dirt on the outside.
- Crape myrtles: Now is the time to start planting crape myrtles as they love hot soil. The Crape Myrtle Company (crapemyrtle.com) recommends feeding them now and early August with 10-10-10 as they are heavy feeders.
- “Ann” Magnolia soulangeana (tulip magnolia)is a rebloomer. Not as many blooms as in the spring, but still a delight to see.
- Pruning: Finish pruning spring flowering plants by the end of July.