In July, it’s time to do some maintenance in your garden. Taking a little time now to do some upkeep and fertilizing will help to make sure your garden looks great through the summer and produces a good crop of veggies this fall.

In the vegetable garden, you should be able to start harvesting some crops. Lettuce, beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, eggplant, peppers, garlic, okra, radish, and tomatoes will be ready to pick soon. It’s a good idea to go out to your garden for a few minutes every day to check for ripe veggies, as well as to get a head start on any pests that might be making a meal out of your garden. Beans and peas should be picked regularly, as they will stop producing if mature fruit is left on the stalk.

The warmer weather of summer will mean that some of the early vegetables that you planted in your vegetable garden will be going past their prime. If you pull up these plants, don’t leave any empty space in your garden. There is still time to plant vegetables in your garden. Green or yellow beans will still produce a decent crop if planted now. If your lettuce is going to seed, pull up the plants and put in some Swiss chard. There are lots of other things that you can still start from seed. If you have some open space in your garden, stop by the store and we can show you what can work in your garden.

Keep an eye out for pests, including hornworms, spider-mites, cucumber beetles and japanese beetles, to name a few. Mitigate infestations early to prevent population explosions. If birds are a problem, some tulle can keep them at bay while keeping them from getting tangled. It can also be helpful to pick your tomatoes once they become orange and let them counter-ripen instead of letting the birds poke holes in all of them. Sunflowers can also work well to keep the birds distracted and away from the rest of your garden. Pull weeds for a few minutes as you walk through your garden to prevent a buildup that will take a weekend to remove.

If you haven’t fertilized your lawn in 8 weeks or more, now is the time to give your lawn an application of fertilizer. At this time of the year, you should be applying an organic lawn fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are slower to release all of their nutrients. During the summer, you want to maintain your lawn’s growth. If you think about the early spring fertilizers, they tend to push out lots of new growth. The new growth needs a lot of water to keep it going. It will help to raise your mower blades up to 2.5″. A longer lawn retains moisture better and is more resilient to hot days.

If you didn’t get around to trimming the hedges yet this year, now is a good time. If you trimmed them in the early spring, a light shave will keep them looking sharp through the rest of the summer. Check your trees for dead or crossing limbs and remove as necessary.

Many of you have blue hydrangeas in your yard. In some cases, the blue color isn’t really blue at all but rather more pink. You can make the blue hydrangeas a more intense shade of blue by adding aluminum sulfate to the soil. The aluminum sulfate is dissolved in water and the plants are watered with the solution. You can do this every 2 weeks until you get the desired shade of blue.

If you have any empty pots or spots in your bed, this is a great time to fill them. Flats of flowers are one of the most cost-efficient ways to beautify your home. Pick a few different types of flowers and co-plant them to create a color scheme that complements your home. These extra flowers will also attract pollinators, adding to the bounty of your vegetable garden. Check the moisture in your pots regularly to make sure they don’t dry out too much. If it hasn’t rained, they’ll be a lot happier with a drink in the afternoon.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself while you’re working outside. Wear protective clothing, stay hydrated, and take breaks when you get hot. Doing your chores in the early morning or evening will help keep you cool and make them a lot more bearable.