July started out really well in the garden – I had a number of tomatoes forming and ripening on my plants, I’d harvested the first batch of Hungarian wax peppers (they start early and keep going until the frost), the herb garden was looking good, and the dye garden area was looking a bit less like a dirt patch.
By the middle of the month, my tomatoes started disappearing. Turns out that the hawks that had taken up residence in the trees behind the house moved on, and the squirrels came back. I think one of the tomato plants ended up with leaf curl, and another with either blight or a fungal issue (I watered too late in the day for a while, and soil was splashing up on the leaves). I also learned that longer days are crucial for getting tomatoes to fruit. I had enough hours of sun for the plants to grow, but not enough for the larger varieties especially to produce fruit. We’re having a large tree cut down around the end of August, so I’ll give tomatoes a go again next spring and see if the light conditions are better. If that doesn’t improve the situation, I’ll probably try something else in their place going forward.
We also got really hot and dry this month, and there were a lot of days I just didn’t want to go out and mess with the garden. Since I’m watering by hand with a hose, things got really dry, and a number of things crisped up and died. Or drowned in the heavy rains that came through a few times. Seems like the peppers have been the only things not really bothered by the weather.
In terms of landscaping, I finally got around to starting to cut back some massive gardenias out front. They still need additional shaping and a bunch of blackberry canes and volunteer trees pulled out from in them, but they’re already smaller than they were earlier this week. We also cut down a thick stand of privet in the backyard where we want to put up a gazebo/tent. The stumps still need to be pulled, but a 10 foot wide area of the yard is clearer than it’s been in years.
In August and September, I need to get ready to switch over to the fall garden. The tomatoes will come out, and I’ll get ready to plant cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, and seed some root vegetables. I’ll also get ready to plant garlic (going to try something besides the Grocery Store Leftovers this year).
I also need to do a bit of infrastructure improvement. Since North Carolina summers are unlikely to get any cooler in the coming years, I should probably go ahead and run drip hoses to the raised beds and figure out a better solution for plants in grow bags and pots. I also want to build some narrower raised beds to accommodate more spring bulbs and summer annuals for next year. The soil in our yard is mostly silty clay, so most bulbs seem to rot if it’s a wet winter.