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Garden Gossip

July, 2020


The blueberries are still very plentiful so the u-pick fields will be open in July. Stop by to pick some or buy them already picked from our cooler. If your blueberry patch has been very kind to you this year and you have more than you know what to do with, make some blueberry jam or jelly and freeze the rest for later use. I have found that it is best to freeze the blueberries on a cookie sheet before vacuum sealing them or putting them in freezer bags. This keeps the blueberries separated and allows you to to get them out individually for a snack or cooking.

Meyer Lemon - 3 gal.-0


Citrus can have a problem with two spotted mites.  Spray with Neem Oil or ultra fine oil as per label directions.  This will also control greasy spot. aphids and white fly.  Be sure to spray on the top and bottom of the leaves and spray in the early morning or late evening never in the hot part of the day or you could burn your leaves.


The blackberry harvest is finished and we will be cutting back our old canes and preparing the new ones for next year’s crop. We are planning to start pruning around July 10. Two vigorous primo canes should be utilized to establish a fruiting system for production next year.  Allow one primo cane to grow to 6 to 8 inches above the bottom wire (which should be 36 inches above the soil level), and cut such that 1 to 2 inches of cane is above the wire. As branching resumes on the new primo cane, select two branches each of which will grow along the wire in opposite directions and tie to the wire. All other branches should be removed.  This same type of training procedure should be used when the second primo cane grown above the top wire which should be 60 inches above the soil level. 

All other branches should be removed.  This same type of training procedure should be used when the second primo cane grown above the top wire which should be 60 inches above the soil level. 

All excess shoots should be removed periodically to permit the energy of the plant to develop the four branches along the trellis wires.  All other primo canes which arise at soil level should be removed. Once the old floricanes are removed in mid July, an application of 1/2 cup of calcium nitrate or 1/4 cup of ammonium nitrate is applied. We sometimes duplicate the application in late August.

Use of pine bark mulch greatly conserves moisture. This year we will spray the blackberries twice with copper. Once in Late July and again in late August or early September.

Weed control is important to reduce competition around plants especially when they are young. Hoeing or hand pulling is fine.  If herbicides are applied, care should be used to avoid damage.  Don’t apply glyophosate herbicide (such as Roundup) around young plants less than one year old or later than July. Still Confused? Check out our Blackberry Pruning Video.

Cumberland Spur Apples, Fresh Fruit-0

Apples, Pears and Figs

If you are seeing some fire blight on your apples and pears the only thing you can do now is cut off the infected branch.  Remember to dip your pruners in a 10% clorox solution before each cut. Burn the branches you cut off don’t be tempted to put them in the compost pile. Finish thinning apples and pears at this time. It helps to increase the size of the fruit and the excess fruit can cause your branches to break. Keep your figs watered during dry spells. A fig tree will drop its leaves and fruit to protect itself during drought situations.

Starting a Blueberry Patch

Are you planning to start a blueberry patch? If you are, you will need at least two different varieties of blueberries for cross pollination. We usually recommend three different varieties. If you should lose one plant you will still have one that will cross pollinate with your other plant.

You may plant blueberries this time of year as long as you can give them at least weekly watering. The most ideal planting time is late fall and winter which allows for the greatest plant development during the first growing season. Blueberries are very sensitive to the use of the nitrate form of nitrogen.  Applying fertilizers such as sodium nitrate, calcium nitrate or ammonium nitrate can result in severe damage or death of the plants.  Always use ammonium forms of nitrogen such as urea, ammonium sulfate or ammonium phosphate and avoid any fertilizers that contain more than 10% nitrogen in nitrate form. A fertilizer such as Grower’s Special (12-6-6) that contain slow release nitrogen and micronutrients is recommended.  The only pruning needed initially is to reduce plant height at planting time by 1/4 to 1/3 usually 7 to 14 inches.   Remove broken roots and separate roots at 3 to 4 areas around root ball where they may be growing in a circular direction. Blueberry plants do not require annual pruning for the first several years except to remove low branches lower than 15 inches from the soil and diseased or broken branches.


Oakleaf, mophead,and lacecap hydrangeas should be pruned by August 1 or you could be removing next years flowers.

If your Blue hydrangeas have turned pink there is nothing you can do about it this year. However you can use a soil acidifier or aluminum sulfate to make them blue again. If you wish to keep them pink just add a little pelletized lime around your plant.


Our crews are out combing the muscadines. This term means separating the shoots for ease of harvest, otherwise the tendrils wrap around the vines and make it difficult to pick the fruit.  Cut off excess growth.  Leave about 30″ to 36″ in length.  Cutting off the excess vines puts all the energy of the plant into increasing the size of the fruit.  Keep watering well during dry periods.

Summer Color

There is still time to plant some summer flowers such as zinnias, sunflowers and cosmos. We planted a patch of zinnias last year and it probably was the most photographed thing we have ever done. The butterflies love zinnias and the birds can feast on the seeds of the sunflowers.

We have seed available by the teaspoon or tablespoon depending on the size of the seed. Remember when planting seeds to make sure that the seed makes good contact with the soil and water them regularly.


I you haven’t done so already it is time to prune back your roses that only flower once in the spring. You can prune them hard if you want then you will only prune to shape them the rest of the summer.

Your repeat bloomers can also be pruned to shape and given a little fertilizer now in preparation for the fall bloom.

Fall Vegetables

It is also time to give some thought to the fall vegetable garden. July would be a good time to start seedlings for cabbage, broccoli, and other cool season vegetables so that they will be ready to set out in the garden in August. Order your multiplying onions now. They should be planted in August too. Often it is still too hot to plant lettuce. Get your seed now but wait to plant lettuce until about the middle of September.

Order garlic if you decide to plant some. Plant it in October and it will over winter and you can harvest in about May of next year. It is such an easy crop to grow and does not take very much space in the garden. The cloves can be planted fairly close together and really require little attention other than some fertilizer starting in about January or February.

It is hard to find tomato plants this late in the season. If you wish to have a crop of fall tomatoes you can just take cuttings of your favorites and place them in damp potting mix in light shade. Keep them moist for a couple of weeks and they will be rooted in. Then plant out in the garden.