July Organic Gardening Tasks

This calendar was originally published for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Please note that the world of organics is ever-changing with new products on the market. I suggest you find your local organic nursery and get to know the personnel, ask questions and know what Gardening Zone you are in to purchase your best plant selections.

  • Make an herbal vinegar for cleaning oven. Choose and cut thyme or lavender or rosemary. Fill a Mason jar 3/4 with plain white vinegar. Add one handful of herb. Set in sunny window for a few days. Pour directly over burned‑on areas on stove and in oven. Soak for an hour before wiping off.
  • Grasshoppers eating plants? Apply a light dusting of flour straight from the kitchen on susceptible plants. It will become paste when chewed by insects.
    Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

    Eastern Lubber Grasshopper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Apply a light dusting of diatomaceous earth (DE) to lawn areas, if necessary, to destroy fleas, ticks, chiggers, and mites. Begin on the outside perimeter of the garden and work toward the center. Use only 1 to 2 cups of DE per 1,000 square feet. Wear a mask and goggles and apply on a non‑windy day.
  • Plant fall pepper and tomatoes plants. Keep well watered during periods of drought.
  • Feed the birds, and they’ll repay you by eating pests in the garden. Some of the most beneficial birds are chickadees, wrens, sparrows and nuthatches.
  • Make an herbal vinegar for cleaning oven. Choose and cut thyme or lavender or rosemary. Fill a Mason jar 3/4 with plain white vinegar. Add one handful of herb. Set in sunny window for a few days. Pour directly over burned‑on areas on stove and in oven. Soak for an hour before wiping off.
  • Grasshoppers eating plants? Apply a light dusting of flour straight from the kitchen on susceptible plants. It will become paste when chewed by insects.
  • Apply a light dusting of diatomaceous earth (DE) to lawn areas, if necessary, to destroy fleas, ticks, chiggers, and mites. Begin on the outside perimeter of the garden and work toward the center. Use only 1 to 2 cups of DE per 1,000 square feet. Wear a mask and goggles and apply on a non‑windy day.
  • Plant fall pepper and tomatoes plants. Keep well watered during periods of drought.
  • Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

    Carolina Chickadee (Photo credit: Larry Meade)

    Feed the birds, and they’ll repay you by eating pests in the garden. Some of the most beneficial birds are chickadees, wrens, sparrows and nuthatches.

  • No fruit on tomatoes? Sidedress 1/2 cup to 1 cup of greensand (approximate analysis of 0‑1‑5) at base of plant. Feed plant with a fish and seaweed mix every 6 weeks.
  • If you have synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, left over paints, or other toxic or hazardous products, there are drop‑off sites for these materials. In Tarrant County, call 817-392-3279 for more information. In Dallas, call 214-553-1765.
  • If your lawn or plants need iron, apply Ruffin or greensand or Sul‑Po‑Mag at a rate of 20 to 40 pounds per 1,000 square feet. One handful distributed lightly around the base of a specific plant will help with chlorosis. Plants in need of iron, show signs of chlorosis on the foliage at the base of the plant. In the lawn, yellowing and dullness may occur. Earthworm castings may also be applied by spreader to green up a lawn.
  • Pinch tips of mums one last time. When buds appear, give the mums a bit more fertilizer.
  • Replace bay leaves on pantry shelves to deter insects in and around dry products, such as cereal and rice.
  • Cut off spent blooms on roses, annuals, perennials and daylilies to encourage fall blooms
  • Harvest and dry herbs such as thyme, rosemary and lavender for potpourri and for cooking. Thyme in plastic bags now will provide tea material this winter during cold seasons. Thyme kills germs.
  • Give extra attention to azaleas: Aerate and granular feed plus fertilize with Ruffin and sulphur or Rabbit Hill Farms Azalea Food or Bunny Trails.
  • Water lawn deeply during early morning hours if it hasn’t rained in more than 7 to 10 days. Water no more than one inch per week and be aware of any water restrictions in your neighborhood.
  • Watch lawn for chinch bug damage. Damage will appear as yellowing on stems and leaves of grass. Adult chinch bugs are one‑fifth inch long, black insects with white wings. Young chinch bugs are red with a white band across the back. They are the size of a pinhead. To test a sick turf area for an infestation, cut out both ends of a 1 pound coffee can and press it firmly in the turf. Fill the can with water. If more than 20 chinch bugs float to the surface, it is an infestation. If you are uncertain that the floating bugs are chinch bugs, crush one. They have an offensive odor when crushed. Diatomaceous earth (DE), pyrethrum or pyrethrin or a combination of both will kill chinch bugs. Apply while wearing a mask on a non‑windy day so the products reach only the intended area. Lightly dust the products in the infested area. If the entire yard is infested, then apply lightly beginning from the outer perimeter of the yard and walking toward the center of the yard. The dusty products will float and cover a wide area. Use a total of 1 1/2 to 2 cups per 1,000 square feet of the products in equal proportions.
  • If you are nursing your Christmas poinsettia, outdoor summer sun will stimulate growth. Place it in a protected area such as a patio or porch away from damaging winds. Fertilize every week during the summer with a high‑phosphorous fertilizer such as a bat guano product.
  • Scatter marigold, zinnia, cosmos and tithonia seeds outside for fall color. Soak seed overnight in liquid seaweed mixture before scattering.  This will speed the germination time. Lightly cover with soil and keep moist until seeds have germinated.
  • Comfrey Leaf

    Comfrey Leaf (Photo credit: Smoobs)

    Harvest comfrey to make an ointment for scrapes, insect bites and stings. Lightly rinse and chop the leaves and roots of the plant. In a large glass container, heat canola oil. Pour over comfrey material. Simmer on low until the leaves are crisp. Cool and strain out solids. For every four ounces of oil, add 1/4 teaspoon each of Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Add a tablespoon of any essential oil for scent. Store in glass container. Refrigeration will prolong use.

  • Oil on the garage or driveway floor? Soak it up with kitty liter or perlite. Sweep up and trash. Then sprinkle on baking soda, scrub with water and rinse.
  • Plant a second round of tomatoes, melons, beans, corn, cucumbers, squash and peppers for fall garden. Companion plant with herbs to deter pests.
  • Fertilize caladiums and continue to water them routinely, especially if natural rainfall is sparse. This will ensure they will remain lush and active until fall.
  • It’s time to sow seeds inside of snapdragons, pansies, calendulas, dianthus and other cool season flowers for outside fall planting.
  • Order spring‑flowering bulbs now so they’ll arrive in October or November for planting or browse local nurseries for bulb arrivals. Although more expensive, buying individual bulbs instead of packaged bulbs allows the shopper to select the largest bulb without mildew or rot.
  • Continue release of beneficial insectsto establish a population in your garden.

    Lady bug (Coccinella septempunctata) on a leaf

    Lady bug (Coccinella septempunctata) on a leaf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Inspect lawn for damage of the larvae or grub of the June beetle (Phyllophaga species). The winged, one‑inch adults are brown, black or green. They emerge by July and feed on the foliage of hardwood trees and deciduous shrubs. The adults can be handpicked when their wings are still wet with dew. Put them in a jar of water with 2 tablespoons of detergent to kill them. The young white grubs are one‑half inch to one and one half inches long, with a dark head. They usually curl into a “C” shape when dug up. Grub worm damage appears as patches of brown grass. The grass easily peels back when pulled. To test for an infestation of grubs, peel or dig one square foot of lawn with a spade. If there are more than ten grubs in the square, treat with beneficial nematodes.
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