As we get into the month of July, we begin to see the “fruits of our labor,” and start to enjoy vine-ripened tomatoes and many other summer vegetables. Of course, as things begin to get ripe in the garden, we often find problems as well – perhaps your plants aren’t growing as quickly as you’d hoped, or you’re finding that insects are damaging them. In organic gardening, of course, we take the long-term view and forgo the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, knowing that ultimately, we do not want to harm the beneficial insects or the soil in our gardens. But there is still much we can do, so do not get discouraged! If your plants are not growing very vigorously, try side dressing with compost or worm castings. Fish emulsion can be used as a foliar spray to add nitrogen. Visit our Garden Resources page for lots of helpful advice on pest control and soil amendments. In particular, the Beginning Organic Gardening and Organic Pest Management handouts have great information and lists of books, websites and other resources that can help you with garden problems. Also, many experienced gardeners are eager to share their tips and knowledge with new gardeners. We would love for you to join this blog to ask questions and give your help to other gardeners – just email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive signup information.
July is also the perfect time of the year to begin the garlic-harvesting process. Once the garlic’s leaves begin to turn brown, begin to water the garlic less. When there are about eight leaves left (a week to 10 days from harvest), discontinue watering and let the soil begin to dry out. This will make harvesting easier and allow the plant to go into dormancy. Garlic treated in this way will keep better. Once it’s ready for harvest, dig the garlic carefully so as not to cut or bruise it in the process, and do not remove the leaves. Bunch the garlic together and hang these bunches in a dry place out of direct sunlight.