July Garden To Dos

July garden to dos

July's to-do list always starts with scouting for squash pests for me. Both squash bugs and squash vine borers usually show up right around the beginning of the month. Squash bugs lay coppery metallic eggs on the undersides of leaves—they're easy to remove with duct tape. Then I put the duct tape in a bucket of soapy water for a few days before disposing of them. The immature insects are tiny and grey and then get bigger as they grow. The adults, typically a ½” long, can be quick and fly but are typically easy to catch and add to the bucket of soapy water.

Squash vine borers are much trickier to catch. You can try pheromone traps, but I find that scouting and removing the eggs and even using a barrier like parafilm around the base of the plants is the best way to protect your plants. Borers usually lay their tawny brown, mustard-seed-shaped eggs right at the base of the plants, but there are ways to control them.

As summer squash and zucchini start to produce fruit, stay on top of harvesting, ideally checking every day or two. When warm weather hits, they can get big fast. If you end up with zucchini baseball bats, try removing the seeds, grating them and freezing for muffins, breads and cakes all winter long.

Japanese beetles also start showing up in July. They are notoriously hard to get rid of as they spend years in the soil feeding on turf grass roots only to pupate and emerge as flying adults. Even if you treat your lawn, you would have to treat all the lawns for miles to make a dent in the population. Instead, I recommend going out with a bucket of soapy water in the morning and at dusk when they are the least active and tossing them in.

I’m also using maggot barriers to protect my peaches from insects like Japanese beetles this summer. They are chunks of nylon material that you wrap around the fruits to protect them as they grow. I have grown Contender Peaches for years with great success. Reliance is another good variety for northern climates. They produce plentifully most years—although smaller, they taste as good as any Michigan, Georgia or Colorado peach when ripe. I usually finish ripening them on the counter for the last week just to beat the squirrels to them.

Now is the time to harvest basil by pinching the top four leaves back to the spot on the stem where more shoots are coming. This will make your plants bigger and bushier. Harvesting shoots from herbs will reduce flowering and keep them productive. Drying them for later use is a great idea, too. Here are some ways to utilize herbs from your garden.

Now is also a good time to remove tomato suckers from the bottom foot of the plant. This helps create good air circulation and can prevent diseases from spreading.

There is still time to plant more beans, summer squash, carrots, cabbage, turnips, lettuce, kohlrabi, beets, dill and cilantro in spots where you've already harvested early plantings of peas, radishes, spinach and lettuce. Be sure to water new plantings in well as they are getting established. Often by this time of the year the spring planted crops are getting enough water from weekly rain, but containers will need more so don’t forget to water those regularly.


Hort society community programs director Courtney Tchida has a degree in Environmental Horticulture, a master's in Agricultural Education and a certificate in Permaculture Design. For 16 years, she managed Cornercopia, the University of Minnesota's student-run organic farm.

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  1. Joyce Nelson on July 11, 2022 at 2:26 am

    We never used to have Japanese beetles. What happened!?

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