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July begins the hottest time of the year.  Only August is hotter.  Outdoor chores are really hard to perform in 90-100 degree weather.  Early mornings and late afternoons are tolerable.

Vegetable Gardens
Keep vegetables picked regularly to encourage more bloom production and therefore more food.  Squash, okra, cucumbers seem to go from an inch long to fully mature in just one day.  Look carefully at your tomato plants for horn worms (big, ugly, green caterpillars) camouflaged among the stems.  These worms can strip a limb in no time.  Carefully remove the horn worm because they produce a painful sting.  A spray or dipel dust maybe used.  Plant a crop of green beans, tomatoes, and turnip greens.

Trees and shrubs planted within the past year probably need supplemental water.  Depending on local regulations you may or may not be allowed to use outdoor water.  Here’s where you need to get creative and use waste water, dish washing water, rain water captured in a rain barrel or large garbage cans.  When you are allowed to water give plants a good soaking once a week rather teasing them with a little sprinkle.  Remember the bucket method?

Deadhead / Prune
Deadhead faded flowers of coneflower, black-eyed susan, azalea, daisy and other perennials to encourage a second bloom.  Pinch mum plants back to about 6" high to promote bushy plants with lots of blooms.

Flowering Shrubs
The blooms on azaleas and camellias are now being set for next spring's flowers.  Fertilize with osmocote for acid loving plants and water as necessary.  If crepe myrtles have sticky, black leaves you have aphids, not a disease.  The aphids suck sap from your crepe but don't digest all of it and the excess is excreted as honey dew.  Orthene or Bayer All In One will get rid of the aphids, but the black stuff will be there till the leaves fall off.

July Heat
During the hottest days of summer, some vegetables such as green beans, peppers, and tomatoes may drop their blooms.  Geraniums and marigolds will stop flowering.  Once it cools down, the plants will hold their blooms again.  To reduce the effect of the heat, apply a three inch layer of mulch around plants and water regularly.

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