Taking care of those July chores

The rush to get our gardens planted is pretty much over. Here are some tips to help you manage what youve planted. Mowing lawns We encourage you to follow the one-third rule of mowing where you never remove more than one-third of the grass blade. This means if you set your mower to cut at 3 inches high, you can wait until your lawn is 4 1/2 inches tall before you need to mow. It takes about 10-14 days for your lawn to grow this much, so youll mow much less often this way. If you insist on keeping your lawn shorter, youll need to mow it more often to follow the one-third rule and keep it lush. If you set your mower at 2 inches, you have to mow your lawn when its 3 inches tall, and if you set your mower to 1 inch, you have to mow when your lawn reaches just 1 1/2 inches long. This can be done, but it means a lot more work on your part. Lawns respond to drought and summer heat by going dormant. When this happens, stay off your dormant lawn as much as possible and, of course, you dont need to mow it. Shorter lawns go dormant sooner than taller lawns because taller lawns have a larger root system. Last chance to prune Remember that pruning in June and July controls the growth of a plant so this is a good time to prune plants that are getting a little too big. If youre trying to thicken up a hedge or make your tree produce more fruit, now is not the time to prune. Fertilizer Early July is a good time for one more feeding of all your gardens, vegetables and flowers. Do not fertilize your lawn now, or your trees and shrubs. Make sure you provide plenty of water with the fertilizer to avoid burning your plant roots. You can either use a water soluble form of fertilizer that will soak through an inch or so of mulch or, if you want to use granular fertilizer, youll need to rake back any mulch, scatter the fertilizer then replace the mulch. Water your plants well before fertilizing and water in any granular products immediately after applying. Organic fertilizers come in easy to handle granular forms now that can be used as described above. Liquid sources such as fish emulsion can be used as a drench through natural mulches, too. Rotted manure and compost are best when dug into the soil before planting. You can add an inch-thick layer on the soil surface now but that wont be as beneficial as if you mixed it into the soil. Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. CCE offices may be reached in Clinton County at 561-7450 and Essex County at 962-4810. More information may be found on-line at ecgardening.cce.cornell.edu or by sending an e-mail to a Master Gardener volunteer at askMG@cornell.edu.

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