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Summer Gardening: July Garden Checklist Zones 4-5

Those erratic spring and early summer days have leveled out for a lovely summer now that July has rolled in. Nights are warm, the sun is high in the sky, temperatures are soaring, and gardens are growing and producing just like nature promised.

There is a lot to enjoy midsummer, but to extend your growing season and keep plants at their best for as long as possible, there are some summer gardening items that need to be tended to. Check out our July Garden Checklist Zones 4-5 for tons of tips and to-dos to keep your garden lush and bountiful.

Hands in green gloves plant flowers in pot

Summer Garden Planning Zones 4-5

Keep your garden journal close at hand as you move through the month of July. You’ve undoubtedly experienced some successes, setbacks, and gardening mishaps that you can learn from for next year.

Here are some things to think about on your Summer Gardening Checklist Zones 4-5:

  • If you are planning a summer getaway, plan to have someone tend to the basics of your garden, especially watering and harvesting. Reward friends and neighbors with the treat of your harvest while you are away if they are willing to spend some time nurturing your crops.
  • Take some photos of your garden as it grows and add the photos to your garden journal. It’ll give you tons of inspiration as you dream in the off-season.
  • Gardeners are always looking ahead. It’s time to start thinking about extending your growing season by planting a fall garden. You’ll start seeds indoors this month, so make a list of all the seed starting supplies you need and any seeds you need to acquire.
  • Think about protective measures you might need for fall and winter, such as hoop houses, cold frames, and greenhouses.
  • When planning for a fall vegetable garden, don’t forget about planting some fall flowering plants to keep the pollinators happy, so they will stick around and nurture your crops. Think about flowering fall perennials; add sunflowers, marigolds, alyssum, nasturtium, cosmos, and more.
  • Use your garden journal to sketch out what you planted and where and how plants are growing in their locations. Have you had any pest or disease problems? Write them down, so you can address them at your next visit to your local extension office.
  • What crops are you planting this season? Think about what you will be growing and do some research on recipes, canning procedures, supplies, and jot down ideas on what you will do with your fruits and vegetables once picking time arrives.
  • Walk around and assess what pests are showing up in your yard right now and note any traps or companion planting options that can help you combat them.

July Garden Maintenance

Aside from some succession planting veggies and indoor planting for a fall crop, your summer gardens have all been planted and are hopefully thriving in the warm days of summer.

While summer gardening has been well underway, there are plenty of tasks on the to-do list on the July Garden Checklist Zones 4-5 to keep your gardens growing strong and looking fabulous.

Summer Garden Weeding

It’s worth repeating that weeds are a gardener’s nemeses. It’s a constant job to cull the quick-growing weeds from your garden spaces. Keep after the process of organic weed removal, and hopefully, there will be fewer weeds in subsequent years because of this year’s vigilance.

  • Those pesky weeds make quite an entrance throughout July, and they can take over a garden if you aren’t on top of them early on.
  • Bare spots in the garden welcome weed propagation. Plant a ground cover or fill in empty garden spots with mulch.
  • Pull them early in the month; they are much easier to eliminate when young.
  • Continually patrol the garden area for weeds and pluck them out whenever you see them.
  • Keep other late-spring and early-summer weeds from propagating by adding a couple of inches of organic mulch to the garden beds.
  • Use organic weed control methods to eliminate difficult weeds.
Wheelbarrow with garden tools in front of the flower beds

Mulching & Amending the July Garden

A couple of inches of organic mulch will go a long way to keep your plants happy throughout the growing season. Mulch regulates soil temperature and helps keep your plant roots cool as the temperatures soar in the heat of summer. Mulching your garden beds can also help stomp out reseeding weeds, regulate moisture.

It also will help keep your soil from eroding during bouts of heavy rain or strong winds. When doing your summer gardening, keep a supply of mulch at the ready and if you see any bare spots in the garden, cover them with a blanket of organic mulch.

Summer Garden Watering Tips

July is one of the hottest and driest times of the year for most grow zones. Watering plants deeply and regularly will help to ensure a successful garden.  As always, if there are water usage restrictions in place where you live, always adhere to those guidelines.  You may even want to consider a rain barrel system so that you can harvest water from rainfalls.

Here are some watering considerations that need the most attention this month:

  • Water fruit trees thoroughly and deeply to avoid fruit splitting.
  • Inspect your irrigation system. Troubleshoot any irrigation issues that you may have had and make any necessary adjustments or repairs.
  • The heat is on in July, and containers and hanging baskets need daily watering to keep them thriving.
  • Keep your vegetable garden well hydrated as well, preferably watering in the early morning, so that plant roots get the most out of the watering session.

July Garden Pruning

  • Thin out the fruit on your fruit trees by removing some of the fruits, allowing 6 inches of space between them. This will help your fruit trees produce a more ample harvest.
  • Avoid any further pruning of spring-flowering shrubs. These bushes should be setting their buds for next season by this time, so you will want to let them be, so they will have bountiful blooms come springtime!
  • When doing your summer gardening, be sure to deadhead spent annual and perennial flowers to encourage secondary blooms.
  • As you prune away dried-up blooms, save seeds from your best-performing plants and save them in seed envelopes for next year. You’ll be pleased that you did! Be sure to label them!
  • Cut back nonfruiting blackberry and raspberry canes.
  • Continue to remove tomato suckers and prune tomato plants to push more energy back into the plant.
  • Continue to shape hedges and shrubs as necessary, avoiding spring-flowering shrubs.
  • Before the 4th of July, cut back fall perennials to avoid plants getting leggy and to encourage a bushy habit with abundant blooms.

Composting in Zones 4-5

Compost adds essential nutrients for overall plant vitality, moisture retention, and soil health when mixed into your existing soil. Create a compost pile in your own backyard if you don’t already have one. If you already have one established, take some steps to bolster the nutrient-rich soil that is brewing from within.

  • Continue to add organic matter throughout the year.
  • Add water to your compost heap so that it will heat up and break down efficiently.
  • Add some fish fertilizer to the heap and turn the pile. This type of organic fertilizer does wonders for promoting healthy soil and microbial life.

Fertilizing Summer Lawns & Gardens

Plants and lawns have been using up nutrients abundantly throughout this growing season. The soil might need some replenishing to keep plants growing healthy and strong so that they are not susceptible to pests and disease.

  • Give lawns a second feeding with an organic lawn fertilizer.
  • Fertilize rose bushes.
  • Hanging plants and containers may need an additional boost of nutrients. Feed them with an organic fertilizer to keep plants lush and vibrant.
  • Your high-performing vegetables have been using up lots of nutrients in the soil. Summer gardening is the time to give vegetables a feeding of organic fertilizer this month, so they will continue to be disease-free and continue to produce.
Little girl picking strawberry on a farm field

Other Must-Dos in the July Garden

  • Add support to fruit tree branches that are heavy with fruit.
  • Side dress potato tubers and onions to ensure that they are entirely covered.
  • Monitor gardens for pests. Spider mites love the heat, and Japanese beetles are making their presence known throughout July.
  • Divide daylilies and irises this month.
  • Plant debris can draw pests, encourage disease, and diminish airflow around your plants. Remove any dead leaves from around the base of plants.
  • If any cool-season annuals remain in your garden, it’s time to remove them and toss them in the compost pile.
  • If you have unused garden spaces, plant a summer cover crop to enrich the soil.
  • As you observe your garden, pull out any underperforming annual plantings.
  • Continue to take care of the wildlife in your yard by refilling feeders and birdbaths.

Starting Seeds for the Fall Garden

You can start sees indoors toward the end of the month, so you have a head start on your fall crop. This is key, especially if you are still harvesting your summer crops. These seedlings can easily be tucked into the garden as you cull spent plants as they reach harvestability.

Some seeds to consider starting indoors include:

  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Squash
  • Pumpkins

Outdoor Planting in Zones 4-5

Zones 4-5 are all in for planting this month. Set out transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, as well as a second crop of green beans, radishes, and summer squash.

Direct sow these seeds during summer gardening for a fall harvest:

  • Bush beans
  • Summer squash
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkins

Summer Garden Harvest

Harvest time is here! That means your first juicy tomato is ready for picking this July!  It’s time for some of your hard work in the vegetable garden to pay off with the start of a fruitful harvest. Remember to harvest often so that plants will keep producing!

These garden goodies should all be ready for harvest this month:

  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Onions
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Okra

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