Enjoy the incredible palette of color, texture and sound that warm weather and long days brings to our northern climate for such a short time each year. In the garden, do your best to keep aggressive weeds at bay. They are trying as hard (or harder) as your garden plants to grow to maturity in the short season, and they will steal nutrients and sunshine from the plants you are trying to grow, especially in the vegetable garden. Mulch is a gardener’s best friend in the summer months because it keeps weeds under control, conserves moisture and adds organic material to the soil.
- While enjoying the long periods of daylight, be sure to pick all vegetables as they ripen, to keep them producing more fruit.
- Peppers grow their best when the soil & temperature are above 70 degrees. Planting too early can actually stunt their growth.
- Fertilize your veggies by side dressing with a handful of compost four inches from the stems of the plants.
- Deep watering = deep roots. Mulch helps retain soil moisture.
- Plant transplants of fall crops of arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and chard. You can still get a second crop of beans of you plant early in the month.
- Plant lettuce in a raised bed, cold frame or where you can use floating row cover to extend your season a bit into the colder weather. Row cover, especially the heavier varieties, can increase the temperature by several degrees underneath to keep tender veggies like lettuce going for a little longer. Kale, broccoli and chard can even take some freezing temps and be fine.
- Mulch to help prevent weed growth and retain soil moisture.
- Continue to sow late blooming annuals (cleomes, coleus, mums). Cut leggy annuals back by half to encourage new growth and more blooms.
- Planting complimentary colors in mass provides a pleasant palette. Pinks and red together will visually ‘warm’ the garden. Blues and purples will visually ‘cool’ it down.
- Apply a monthly feeding of fish emulsion or compost tea to potted plants. Water potted plants more frequently than plants in the ground.
- Guide your vines up a wire or trellis to s t r e t c h their color impact. Stake up floppy flowers to protect from wind and rain.
- ‘Deadheading’ is the removal of spent blooms, encouraging more blooms and new growth. Deadhead as often as your time permits. It is worth the energy to prolong the bloom.
- Collect, dry, label and save a portion of your seeds for sharing with friends. Allow the remaining seeds to stay on the plants for the birds.
- Providing fresh, clean water for birds will compliment your garden (and keep them off of your tomatoes if the weather is dry).
- Plant summer flowering tubers and bulbs. Sow biennial seeds, such as hollyhocks, sweet William and English daisies, for flowers next year.
- Lift and divide spring flowering perennials after their blooms are gone but before the foliage dies back so you can find the bulbs.
- If you are a fan of hydrangeas, try the blue mop-head variety called “Endless Summer,” which will grow in Southeastern Alaska. Cut the blooms in early morning, following an evening watering, and hang them upside down to dry. This will give your home the lingering memory of their beauty well into the winter. The addition of aluminum sulfate to the soil will ensure their rich blue color for you.
- You can plant container-grown shrubs now, but make sure they get plenty of water to establish roots if the weather is dry.
- When pruning your hedges, keep in mind their natural growth habit. If you prune to minimize winter damage, allow the base of the bush to remain somewhat wider than the top. This will allow the lower branches to receive more light, and make the whole plant stronger.
- If you are missing some blueberries, you may consider netting them to keep the birds from feasting. Appropriate netting is available at your Home Depot outdoor garden center.
- If caterpillars are devouring your shrubs, try Bacillus thuringiensis, often called Bt. It is naturally based and kills only caterpillars and leaves other insects alone. (Try to leave the caterpillars on your dill, parsley and carrots alone. They will mature into butterflies later.)
- Enjoy remaining color on your Crabapples and “Crimson Cloud” Red Hawthornes.
- Remove dead or diseased branches and dispose of properly. To keep from spreading disease, resist chipping them into mulch, or adding to your compost.
- At the end of the month, ‘top’ deciduous trees, by removing no more than 20% of the umbrella, to reduce winter damage. The pruning scars should have an opportunity to heal before deep freezing weather.
- Research done by the University of Alaska has found that using a combination of Alaskan Native Grass species can facilitate a good lawn.
- Blend a fast growing rye grass with “Nugget Bluegrass,” and “Boreal Red” fescue. Sow in tilled soil at a rate of seven pounds per 1,000 square feet with 40 pounds of lime and 20 pounds of lawn fertilizer. Germination should occur within three weeks.
- Keep established lawns mowed to 2-2.5 inches. Leave the nitrogen-rich clippings on the lawn.