This is the time to "solarize" areas of the garden where weeds have been a problem. Prepare the soil as if you were going to plant; rake smooth and break up clods. Water thoroughly, then place 1- to 4-millimeter, impermeable plastic over the area. Seal the sides with 4 to 6 inches of dirt. Leave in place for six to eight weeks. To plant, don't disturb soil below 2 inches. University of California scientists found plants grew better than expected after soil was treated this way. For more information, search http://extension.oregonstate.edu
Don't cultivate mosquitoes. The type that like stagnant water are the same breed that carry West Nile virus. Change water in birdbaths every other day and use mosquito-eating fish or chemical controls in ponds. Protect yourself — especially during the hours after sunrise and before sunset — with repellent. Preparations that use DEET are recommended. Effective natural products contain oil of lemon, eucalyptus, citronella, peppermint or cedar oil.
We love flowers, but plants love seeds. Deadhead flowers and side-dress with flower-boosting fertilizer so flower production will continue. To deadhead easily, use garden or hedge shears.
Mulch will maintain soil temperature and minimize water loss in garden beds and containers. Use pot "feet" to allow free drainage for containers. Don't use catch basins — or drain them if you do — to prevent mosquito breeding.
Seed flowers for the fall garden: ornamental kale, pansies, snapdragons and dusty miller are easy to start in cell packs or flats.
When you fill your birdseed feeders, wipe the bases with handy bleach or disinfectant wipes. To prevent disease in wild bird populations, give the feeders a thorough monthly cleaning with a 10-to-1 water-to-bleach solution. Hummingbird feeders should be changed daily or every other day. Ditto for birdbaths. Clean them weekly with the bleach solution.
Plant growth stalls at about 86 degrees, so vegetables will produce slowly. Protect tender leafy crops, such as lettuce, with shade cloth. Keep picking flowering produce, such as beans, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers and other summer squash, in order to keep plants producing. Protect ripening berry crops with bird netting.
Watch for potato vines to yellow; then begin to harvest.
Fertilize crops midseason. They need the boost. Sprinkle organic fertilizer to the side of the plant and scratch in with a cultivator, then water deeply. Organic fertilizer is less likely to damage roots in hot weather.
From midmonth on is a good time to plant fall-garden vegetable starts: cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Shade cloth can protect starts from dehydrating until their root systems develop.
Seeds to plant include beans, beets, carrots, peas and kale. Keep seeds moist by using a floating row cover and monitoring the seed beds.
Adjust automatic sprinkling systems to deliver 2 inches of water per week. Mow lawns 2 1/2 inches high to shade soil and conserve moisture.
There are between 1,000 and 3,000 blades of grass in a single square foot of lawn, and you run your mower over them about 30 times a season. If the tops of your grass look ragged after you mow, your mower blade needs sharpening or replacing.
Stay away from fertilizers during hot, dry spells.
North Mountain Park Nature Center, 620 N. Mountain Ave., Ashland, is offering a wide variety of programs of interest to gardeners "… or gardener wannabes. Call the center at 541-488-6606 for information and class locations. Register online at http://ashlandparks.recware.com.
Kitchen gardening, taught by former chef and now Ashland Community Garden manager Bryan Holley, includes information on soil health, what to grow and when to plant. You'll leave with some kitchen-tested recipes. Cost is $15. Time is 10 a.m. to noon July 17.
Learn the best summer harvesting techniques and how to prepare for a fall/winter garden with Jennifer Ewing. Fee is $10. Time is 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 28.
Learn urban composting with master composter Denny Morelli and never wonder what to do with your lawn, garden or vegetable clippings. The free class runs from 10 a.m. to noon July 17.
"Summer Floral Arrangements 1-2-3" is taught by Ashland Garden Club members Gena Goddard and Darlene Fenwick using flowers from the Nature Center garden. Cost is $12. Time is 10 a.m. to noon July 21.
Learn to catch the rain at the rain-barrel workshop from 7 to 9 p.m. July 27. Bring a barrel and buy the right fittings at the workshop. Cost is $5.
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