Often the warmest month in the Pikes Peak region, July brings the heat. It also brings a variety of gardening activities, with the main chores being maintaining, weeding and sometimes harvesting. Here’s a checklist:
• Apply or reapply mulch; it retains moisture, keeps the soil cooler and helps to prevent soil compaction.
• Mow lawn as often as needed, keeping grass height between 2½ inches and 3 inches.
• Stop pinching fall-blooming perennials such as asters and chrysanthemums.
• Do pinch back petunias when they get “leggy” to encourage the plant to become fuller.
• Cut back delphinium and perennial salvia to encourage a second bloom.
• Fertilize hybrid tea and standard roses. Remove faded flowers to encourage new blooms. Cut back the stem of single flowering roses to the first five-leaflet leaf.
• Pinch back or disbud dahlias for larger flowers. Remove at least two pairs of side buds below the top bud.
• Dig and divide bearded iris and spring-blooming poppies. Divide all iris that are crowded, discarding old, large or diseased rhizomes.
• Keep deadheading perennials to keep the garden neat and flowers blooming.
• Tomatoes need consistent watering to prevent blossom end rot. Water at the base of the plant; they do not like overhead water.
• Harvest zucchini when they are 6 inches to 8 inches long.
• Replant leaf lettuce and sow seeds of sugar snap peas for a fall harvest.
• Watch for powdery mildew on pumpkin vines, Virginia creeper and roses. Prune roses with a focus of keeping an open vase-like shape. This method will encourage air circulation and help to prevent powdery mildew. If mildew is present, it won’t hurt pumpkin vines, but using a product containing sulfur is a safe and environmentally friendly way to control the disease.
• Control pests using the least toxic measure possible. Tomato hornworms can be picked off the plant and tossed in the alley. Check Alberta spruce and juniper for a sprawling white web; it’s a sign of spider mites. A strong spray of water will temporarily get rid of them. Insecticidal soap is an effective control for aphids that seem to appear overnight in the billions. Lady beetles (lady bugs) are beneficial insects and will help control aphids and other unwanted garden pests.
• Slug damage is extremely common in shady, moist places. Hostas are often a favorite target. Slugs are gray or pale beige, soft-bodied, slimy and approximately a 1/4-inch long. When they attack, they often leave a shiny trail on the underside of plant leaves. They damage inside the leaf blade instead of along the leaf edge, making holes larger than a pencil eraser but smaller than a nickel. Beer often is used to trap slugs. A beer trap can be a shallow container, such as a tuna can, buried to within a half inch of the rim and filled with beer. Slugs will crawl in and drown.
The El Paso County Extension is operating remotely due to COVID-19. You can submit gardening questions by email at email@example.com.