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    Save the Date: Perennial Plant Society’s 30th Plant Sale is April 4, 2020, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the new Expo 3 Building at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Here’s where you can find the newest varieties of perennials, shrubs, vines and annuals from local growers, along with long-time, never-fail favorites, ready for spring planting. Learn more at the PPS website.

     

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July garden tips & tasks

Things are heating up! Here’s a to-do list to keep the garden at its best this month.

Early in the month

It’s time for summer tomatoes! The fruits tend crack when watering is inconsistent, so keep the soil around tomatoes evenly moist.

 

ColeusColeus’ 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. Wax begonias also benefit from periodic pinching to keep them from becoming leggy.

For the best flavor, pick squash and cucumbers while they are still small and tender. You can plant a second crop of bush beans, zucchini and cucumber, summer veggies that grow quickly.

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Plan your squirrel deterrents

We’re about to plant tomatoes again in our small garden, and it reminds me that last year the squirrels got most of the tomatoes before they had a chance to get ripe. Is there anything we can do to keep that from happening again?

This tomato might be tempting to a thirsty squirrel.

This tomato might be tempting to a thirsty squirrel.

When you find that several of your green tomatoes has disappeared from the vine overnight, it’s a pretty good bet the squirrels have been at work. What’s even worse is finding half-eaten green tomatoes on the ground. I’ve had it happen, and I’m sure most other tomato gardeners have, as well.
Suggested deterrents range from blood meal or cayenne pepper sprinkled on the ground around the garden, to bird netting cages built to enclose the plants as they grow.
Some gardeners say that they leave a pan of water near the garden to provide the moisture the squirrels are looking for, hoping they’ll leave the tomatoes alone. Others hang aluminum pans and other shiny objects around the garden to scare the squirrels away. Those things may work for a little while, but squirrels are pretty clever and will realize quickly that they’re harmless, so it’s not a long-term solution. Last year, I draped a large inflatable snake over one of the cages, and that may have spooked them a bit; I moved the snake around every couple of days to try to keep them guessing.
Other ideas? Readers of The Garden Bench: If you’ve tried things that work to keep squirrels from grabbing the tomatoes, tell about them in the comments. They’re ideas worth sharing before tomato season arrives.