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July 2014 gardening in Tulsa

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Summer has officially arrived and the temperature is starting to rise. So what happens in our gardens this month?

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For the vegetable gardeners, pick tomatoes, cucumbers and squash when young and tender. Leaving them too long on the plant makes them bitter. Harvesting often also encourages new vegetables to form. If any plants look diseased, now is the time to replace them with new plantings for a second crop in the fall.

Intermittent rains and watering of plants can cause standing water which encourages mosquito growth. Empty any pots or plant saucers of water. Bird baths should have the water changed daily. Water gardens or even ditches and low lying areas where water accumulates can be treated with products that prevent the larvae from hatching. These products come in solid or granular formulas.

If your lawnmower is cutting the grass too short, this puts stress on the lawn and allows it to dry out faster. Raise the setting on your mower to about 1 1/2" for Bermuda grass and 2 - 3" for fescue. And when watering your lawn, water less often but allow it to soak down past the roots. This encourages deep root growth which carries the plants through times of drought.

To add some color to your garden, try introducing coneflowers. Now is a good time to plant container grown ones. Just plant at the same depth as they are in the pot and water well to help them get established. They come in different colors of purples, oranges and yellows; even some white ones are now available. They prefer full sun and well drained soil with some organic matter added.