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COLUMN: Tips for guarding your garden from pesky pests

Master Gardener John Hethrington delivers his monthly marching orders for your gardening to-do lists
John Hethrington is a Master Gardener living in Meaford where he tends 20 different gardens.

In July, gardeners will need to keep an eye on their growing plants, flowers, and vegetables to protect them against pests and support growth. 

The following list of tips should help your gardens flourish this summer:

  • Watch for the Japanese beetle on your Asiatic Lilies, Roses, Rose of Sharon, Dahlias, Hollyhocks, and numerous other plants. Handpicking and squeezing,
  • combined with a beetle trap, are the most efficient way to limit these ravaging critters. Luckily, the little red devils don’t eat Day Lilies (Hemerocallis).
  • Watch for earwigs and Gypsy moth caterpillars. Spray plants with a 40:1 mixture of water and dish soap.
  • Ants are also a problem. The ant powder does not seem to work for me. Maybe the ants didn’t read the instructions to take it back to their nest.
  • Trim evergreens, cedar hedges, etc., now as needed, not later in the summer.
  • Stake straggly annuals and perennials, or pinch them back to promote new growth and make them bushy.
  • Raise lawn mower blades for summer mowing. Grass should be at least 5 - 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) high to stay healthy and weed-free.
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs like Forsythia and Spirea after blooming, If you really want to be picky, remove individual spent lilac blooms.
  • Water flower beds deeply and try a second round of weeding. Add mulch again to keep the weeds at bay.
  • Mulch your tomato plants. When a ripe tomato drops, it won’t split or get muddy. Mulch holds moisture too!
  • Thin, hoe, weed and water vegetables as required. (This is why I stick to flowers.)
  • Water lawns and beds as deeply as you can. We have had a fairly wet spring, but the hot summer day will dry out your lawn fast.
  • Tackle weeds now before they go to seed. Save yourself from weeding their offspring next year.
  • Stake tall perennials that may be weakened by too-rapid growth.
  • Turn compost regularly and check the moisture level - not too wet, not too dry,- like Goldilocks, just right.

John Hethrington has been gardening since the age of 9. He spent his early life gardening in Toronto and earned his certification as a Master Gardener before moving to Meaford where he cultivates 2.5 acres with 20 different gardens.