VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

July Growing Tips

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

Welcome to Milner Gardens' 2022 Monthly Growing Tips: Some short-cuts and tricks to help make lighter work of your gardening chores.

July Growing Tips

Tending the Landscape

The bywords for July are water, weed, bask, and barbeque but if you need more adventure it is not too late to plant perennials. These caveats will help:

- Plant in evening so roots don’t get heat damage

- Provide part shade unless the plant was in full sun at the garden centre

- Keep soil moist by watering lightly every evening until autumn.

Although mulch retains moisture around plants, if only finely shredded bark it can form a crust which may provide a fire pathway. Get Firesmart: chop greens when deadheading, weeding, and pruning then stir them into the mulch. They compost quickly, help break the surface so no crust develops, and allow water to penetrate more thoroughly.


In the Veggie Patch

Early crops are happy as long as it remains cool, but some pea and bean cultivars may suddenly flower too fast in July’s heat. Stop watering, let the fruit dry, harvest the legumes for winter soup then compost the plants. In August, plant anew for a feast of fresh legumes.

A resident fungus, Alternaria solani or early blight, has attacked many tomatoes in this year’s cool spring. Though early blight (collar rot) does not usually kill plants it greatly weakens them so you might be further ahead to remove them and plant short season cultivars like Early Girl or Sungold. Garden centres often have sales now so get a bargain, and enjoy bigger harvests well into autumn. Tomatoes that got early blight do not necessarily get late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans, a more deadly fungal disease which flares if summer suddenly turns cool and rainy.

For bigger crops, remove runners from June-bearing strawberries except when new plants are needed. After harvest, prune greenery to just above the crown and dig in around the bottom of each hill. Strong new leaves will regrow, and you’ll get bigger harvests next year, including from planted runners that developed crowns by this September.

Stop harvesting rhubarb now and let its leaves rejuvenate the crown. Take a light second harvest in autumn.


Caring For Our Wild Friends

Place a ramekin of water in a tree branch near a hummingbird well. Ensure bird baths get some shade and float clean wine corks or add stones whose tops are above the surface so thirsty insects don’t drown. No bird bath? A large water-filled plant reservoir tray (include a rock perch) left on the lawn at night will help critters and bats -- who eat up to 75% of their body weight nightly in pest insects. Over 70% of wild pollinators need bare ground to nest and hide, so pull mulch back about 6 – 10 inches from the centre of large shrubs to give them a safe haven.


Green Groaners

Q: What did the gardener do when Japanese beetles ruined his lawn?

A: He got clover it.


Of course, the whole world is a garden: Portland, Oregon, is the City of Roses, the Netherlands is the Land of Flowers, and there is a whole continent called Greenland. In addition, many people rest on their laurels.