In 44 BCE, the Roman Senate renamed the month Quintilis in honor of Julius Caesar.
July is typically the warmest month of the year in the northern hemisphere, and the coldest in the southern. In a non leap year, no other month ends on the same day as July.
In our gardens, July is usually the month of cleaning, assessing and watering. The queries we field at the store this time of the year reflect gardens that are past the excitement of spring, and in full growth, weeds included.
Top five questions we've been getting at the store, and a paragraph of easy fixes for other things:
1. What is eating my basil? 90% of what people are bringing to us is slug damage. See photo below. It's been wet, cool and rainy - the ideal environment for slugs and snails. There are many effective organic controls for slugs, including copper and iron phosphate.
For a full slug overview, try our amazing repository of garden information: University of MN garden extension.
2. Why does my vegetable garden look stressed? The reasons for this can be quite numerous, but let's start with what's been unusual this spring: rain and cooler temps. It may be the year that you need to test your soil, and potentially add some specific organic fertilizers. Excessive rain can also increase the acidity of soil, which can change how plants take up nutrients. Again, the first place to start is a soil test. And last, rain helps weeds to grow faster, and weeds steal space, water, light and nutrition from your plants. See the next question.
3. I don't want to spray chemicals. How do I deal with weeds? It's hard to say it, and even harder to face it, but we know of no garden that does not have to be weeded. As in, using a human hand to pull, hoe, dig or otherwise manually extract weeds. We have had some success with child labor rewarded with popsicles. Compartmentalizing also helps - 15-20 minutes a day, just keep rolling on through the property one area at a time.
There are organic sprays and pre-emergent controls, but they are non-specific. In other words, they kill seeds and plants, all of them - you have to determine when to apply and where to apply to hit the undesirable ones, aka weeds...
4. What are these tiny round marks on the leaves of my perennials (and some annuals and veggies, too)? If it looks like the non-basil photo below, it is four lined plant bug. Both the nymph and the adult cause these lesions. Ohio State entomology department describes it this way: Most plant bugs appear to insert their mouth stylets into host plant tissues and inject a tissue dissolving saliva. They then suck out the liquified plant tissues. Yum. They have a relatively short lifespan, and the nymphs are easier to hit with insecticidal soap (look under the leaves), but the best way to control them is to clean up the stalks of your perennials in the winter. They lay their eggs in open woody stalks, so best to actually throw these away, rather than compost.
5. Do you have any lettuce? We have been surprised how many people have been looking for lettuce into June this year. So for next year: we bring in lettuce in April, as it prefers cooler temps and can tolerate frost. It tends to get bitter as the heat of the summer comes on. We will have lettuce again in late July or early August for fall harvesting. There are many things that can still be planted by seed this time of year. For info on this, cover crops, and other stuff I hope I didn't repeat here, see last year's July newsletter.
Quick and easy to help keep things relatively under control:
Use mulch - and yes, you can mulch with compost. Don't have hay for the vegetable garden? Try bark fines, coconut coir or cocoa bean. Make the watering easier by adding a hose, storing your watering implements closer to what needs watering, like a sprinkler under the porch steps or a watering can near the front stoop. Deadhead annuals while you do your morning or evening garden inspection. You'll get plumper plants and better blooms.
And how about this radical idea: pay someone to help with the things you can't, won't, or don't want to do.
Scroll down for store happenings and dates to keep in mind.
SAVE the DATES:
• We will be closed July 4th. Our hardworking staff needs a day.
• Where's Waldo will be running all of July in South Minneapolis. Find Waldo at participating businesses and become eligible to win prizes. Sponsored by Moon Palace Books.
• New Hours starting July 7th: Monday - Friday 9a - 7p, Saturday 9a - 6p, Sunday 10a - 6p.
• Come see us at the Midtown Farmer's Market, July 12th, 8a-1p. Spin to Win! We are the market sponsor that day.
• Pollinator Party: We can't wait till Thursday, July 24th 5p-8p for a celebration of the life and work of honey bees and wild bees, at Lyndale Park Gardens. Bees, honey, games, food and music. Visit our booth!
• Tomato Pageant - We are hosting a pageant of tomatoes. Teaser. More info later....