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July To-Do List for Vegetable Gardening

Let's get started...#1) Pest Patrol:  

Walk through the garden regularly to scout for insect pests and diseases. Frequent scouting is the only way to catch problems early on, so you have a chance to control them before they have caused significant damage.
Virus symptoms and spider mite damage are
seen side-by-side on tomato and parsley,
Photo: Annie Klodd
To scout for pests, look closely at the leaves, stem, and fruit of the plants. Look for areas that are discolored, wilted, mis-shapen, or have holes. It is useful to carry a camera phone and a hand lens, in order to see small insects and capture photos of the problem up close.

Often, a symptom like discolored leaves could be due to a number of causes, and it's not always something obvious. Consider multiple causes, including the weather, and examine the plants closely (see photo below).
Sometimes, digging up a plant helps reveal the cause of a
problem. For example, wilted leaves on melon could be
due to squash vine borer at the plant's base (Photo: Annie Klodd)

Once you have pictures of the damage, use the UMN Extension diagnostic tool to identify the problem. Knowing what the problem is will lead you to the solution.

Tomato diseases are one of the more common problems in vegetable gardens. Learn about them here: Spot Check for Tomato Diseases Now 

Common July Insects are Out

Potato beetles and Japanese beetles are both currently out and about right now. They are both very common and can cause rapid damage to plants. Beetles can be kept out with exclusion, or hand-removed into soapy water or killed with insecticides. Organic and low-risk insecticides are available.  Click here for information on controlling Japanese beetles.

Aphids and spider mites should be sprayed off with water or killed with pesticides. Aphids can transmit viruses such as tomato mosaic virus, which significantly affect yield and plant health.

2) Maintain your garden for healthy plants


Keep the garden consistently moist to several inches deep, especially in hot, dry weather. If using a watering can or hose, water each plant for several seconds rather than just passing the hose over them.


The garden should be weeded regularly. Keeping weeds to a minimum helps your plants thrive without having to compete with weeds for nutrients, sunlight, and water. Additionally, remember to weed around the edges to keep turf and weed from encroaching on your garden’s square footage.

When weeding, carry weeds out of the garden so they don’t re-root. They should be removed before they grow large enough to produce flowers and seeds. If they have produced flowers or seeds, do not put them in your compost pile. Dispose of them in the garbage or burn them in a designated burn pile.

Thistles are especially burdensome. They spread underground, so one thistle left behind will turn into a whole patch rather quickly. Remove thistles’ taproots several inches into the soil and remove them as soon as you see them.


Cucumbers thriving on a trellis of plastic
netting mounted on wooden posts
(Photo: Annie Klodd)
Keep cucumbers, melons, pole beans and other vertically-growing plants tied to their trellis or cage. Vining plants growing vertically will produce best when they are securely on their trellis.

3) Harvest and store the bounty

Lots of vegetables are ready to be harvested in July, such as:
Cherry tomatoes
Bell peppers

Gardeners enjoy a flush of vegetables in July, and can’t eat them all at once! Store them properly so that they will last until you are ready to eat them. Information on harvesting and storing vegetables can be found here: Harvesting and Storing Home Garden Vegetables

4) Share vegetables with friends and family! 

Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator – Fruit and Vegetable Production

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