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What To Do In Your Iowa Garden This Month

July 10, 2011
By Veronica Lorson Fowler
Don’t let the heat and humidity keep you out of the garden! A few minutes of weeding and watering a day will make all the difference.

• Weed, weed, weed! All this rain followed by warmer weather is perfect conditions for weeds to take off with seemingly sonic speed. After weeding, mulch with 1 to 3 inches of wood chip mulch (not fresh) to prevent weeds from returning.

• Plants in containers benefit greatly from regular fertilizing. All that watering flushes out nutrients. Feed them every two to four weeks with a liquid fertilizer, such as Miracle-Gro or an organic formulation. For flowering plants, I look for a fertilizer with a “bloom booster” formula to make sure I get as many flowers as possible.

• Deadhead--that is, trim spent blooms--from annuals, perennials, and some shrubs. It keeps your garden more attractive and in many cases, it will encourage more flowers longer.

• Continue to plant container-grown or balled-and-burlapped trees, shrubs, and roses now. However, avoid planting bare-root roses and other bare-root plants. This late in the season, they'll struggle to get established.

• Time to practice tough love. If a tree or shrub is still struggling with winter damage or overall sickness, with significant amounts of dead wood, it's almost certainly time to dig it up or cut it down.

• Remove the browning foliage of tulips and daffodils once it pulls away easily. Until then, the plant is using it rejuvenate for next year.

• Harvest early and often for the most tender, sweetest produce and to keep plants producing well. Pick zucchini, for example, with the yellow flower still attached.

• Most lettuce by now has started to bolt, that is, send up tall, elongated stalks. At this point, it turns bitter. Pull it up and pitch it on your compost heap.

• It’s been a great year for creeping charlie. The best thing in flower beds is to pull it diligently and mulch. In lawns, use a broad-leaf herbicide in fall. For more tips on creeping charlie, visit our web site at

• Check out the bulb catalogs and on-line sources. Ordering now assures the type and quantity you want this fall, when supplies run low.

Fact Box

Veronica Lorson Fowler lives in Ames and is the author of several garden books, including "Gardening in Iowa" published by the University of Iowa Press. Subscribe to her free electronic Iowa gardening newsletter or ask her your garden questions at .



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