July in the garden in Louisville brings a harvest of ripe summer fruits and vegetables and the full flowering of beautiful blooms and plantings. Even as they reap the benefits of their previous labors, vigilant gardeners watch the weather, manage possible drought, avoid overwatering, and battle pests throughout the month. Some planting possibilities remain, along with maintenance and cleanup to be done.
What can still be planted now: beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, peas, onions, spinach, summer squash, and nightshades like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Most well-developed tomato plants need spraying and staking or caging by this time. Don’t forget to pull some early for fried green tomatoes!
Examine plants for diseases and insect infestation and treat accordingly. Do not fertilize flowers, lawns, or plants in the hotter, drier conditions. Instead, wait until temperatures moderate and there is more humidity in the air. Deadhead faded blooms, pick ripe berries, fruits, and vegetables, and pull up the old annuals. To plant another round of summer annuals, some good choices for this Plant Hardiness Zone are begonias, salvia, helenium, euphorbia, impatiens, purple fountain grass, coleus, elephant ears, Scaevola, and Zahara zinnia.
Lawn care can be tricky in the heat of summer. Check your water hoses and sprinkler system to be sure they are functioning properly before the hottest weather strikes. Mornings are the best time for watering. Evenings are fine once in a while; but regular night-time watering may subject your lawns and gardens to fungus, mildew, molds, snails, and slugs. Watering more deeply, but less frequently helps plants develop deeper roots that can protect them from drought and extreme temperatures. Spruce up mulching and move that sprinkler around to keep from wasting water.
Hot July afternoons are better spent indoors but don’t necessarily have to be unproductive for your gardens. Get the manual labor done in the mornings and early evenings. In the meantime, plan summer to fall transitions and the fall garden. Browse the internet for tips and tricks. Crack the gardening books you already own and shop for new ones.
GARDENING BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
Reward your hard work and research with Kentucky Style Fried Green Tomatoes for supper. Heat bacon grease in a cast-iron skillet. Dip ¼” green beefsteak tomato slices in a beaten egg whisked with ¼ cup whole milk, then dredge in a dry mixture of ¹/³ cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup cornmeal, and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Fry 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and sugar. For extra decadence, top with pimento cheese.