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  • July garden tips & tasks

    Make sure the trees and shrubs you planted in spring get plenty of water. The Nashville Tree Foundation advises that trees planted in the last three years should receive 10 gallons per week per inch of tree caliper. Water your trees slowly with a bucket, soaker hose, slow drip hose or watering bag.

    As tomato plants continue to grow and produce, keep the soil around the plants consistently moist. Inconsistent watering is the reason tomatoes develop cracks.

    Summer annuals and perennials such as daisies, glads, zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos and others make beautiful summer bouquets. Cut them early in the day when they’re at their freshest and put them in water in a vase right away. Change the water daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Pick summer squash and zucchini while they are still small and tender for best flavor.

    Watch for tobacco hornworms on tomato plants and Japanese beetles on just about everything else. Pluck the worms off the tomato plants and dispose of them. (If you see one with its back covered with white eggs, leave it; it is being parasitized by a tiny wasp.) Knock Japanese beetles off plants into a bucket of soapy water.

    Cut back the stems of mums once more, before they begin to form flowers. This allows them to delay flowering until fall.

    Lawn growth (and lawn mowing) may slow down as the heat increases. Continue to mow as needed, but don’t cut the grass too short. Provide about an inch of water if it doesn’t rain.

    Don’t forget about those hanging baskets and container gardens in the heat. If it doesn’t rain, you may need to water them daily during the hottest part of summer.

    Overgrown beds of bearded irises should be divided every three to five years. July is a good time for this task.

    You can plant a second crop of summer vegetables that grow quickly. Cucumber, bush beans and zucchini can usually produce a crop by fall if seeds are planted early in July.

    Coleus’ beauty is in the foliage, so when it begins to bloom, pinch off the flower spikes to encourage the plant to grow fuller and bushier.

    Take a daily walk around the garden to enjoy the scenery, but also to spot problems with weeds or bugs before they get out of hand.

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Transplant a peony

When can peonies be separated and transplanted?
Peonies can be kind of fussy about where they’ll grow and what they’ll do if you try to move them. In fact, most garden experts will tell you that peonies seldom need dividing, and recover poorly from any attempt to do so.
That said, there’s a good time to do if, if you must, and that time is late summer or early fall. Make divisions or root cuttings with at least three growing points, then replant the divisions 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant them in a new bed that has been dug 12 inches deep, into which you have worked good compost or other organic matter. Pick a spot in full sun or a place that gets a little afternoon shade. Set plants in the ground at the same level or slightly higher than they were growing before you dug them up.
The cuttings should begin to grow next spring, so make sure they have sufficient moisture when they do. Judy Lowe, the author of Month-By-Month Gardening in Tennessee & Kentucky, suggests placing a half-inch of compost on top of the soil in spring and summer, and applying a slow-release fertilizer in mid-spring.
Then sit back and be patient. Even with this good care, it may take a couple of years for a transplanted peony to recover and bloom well again.

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