What to do in your garden in July

KIM NELSON

EXPLORING

Tour gardens in Santa Fe. Join the Behind Adobe Walls tourJuly 19 and 26 for a look at four featured gardens and homes inSanta Fe. Tickets ($75 with lunch and parking, $65 without) include bustransportation to each garden. Proceeds benefit localbeautification, conservation, and education projects. For moreinformation, call 800/283-0122.

PLANTING

Install landscape plants. Sunset climate zones 1a-3b: Plant tough deciduous trees andshrubs now so they can get established before winter. Considerquaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), squawbush (Rhus trilobata), and white spruce (Picea glauca). Zones 10-13: Set out drought-tolerant treesand shrubs like apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa), desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), Texas ebony (Pithecellobium flexicaule), and Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora). For accent plants, try agave, barrelcactus, Dasylirion, prickly pear, and yucca.

Plant warm-season veggies. Zones 1a-3b: Sow seeds of beans,beets, collards, cucumber, lettuce, melons, pumpkins, radishes, andspinach. Zones 10-13: Sow cucumbers, eggplant, and okra, plus anyof the "monsoon crops" listed below. At month's end, plant seedpotatoes (try 'Red Dale' and 'Yukon Gold').

Set out summer color. Add heat-tolerant plants to flowerbeds and pots. Good choices include agastache, celosia, cosmos,four o'clock gaillardia, gazania, globe amaranth, kochia,lisianthus, Madagascar periwinkle, portulaca, and zinnia.

Sow monsoon crops. To take advantage of rains during thesummer monsoon, sow seeds of traditional Southwest crops such asbeans, black-eyed peas, corn, melons, and squash. For a wideselection of heirloom varieties, including 'Chimayo' melon and'Mayo Blusher' squash, order from Native Seeds/SEARCH (www.nativeseeds.org or866/622-5561).

MAINTENANCE

Control pests. If you spot aphids on new growth, cochinealscale on prickly pear pads, or lace bugs on sunflowers, blast themoff with a strong jet of water. Treat fungus gnats and white flieson annuals, herbs, and potted plants by spraying insecticidal soap.Handpick caterpillars and grasshoppers.

Test your soil. If plants fare poorly in a particular spotin your garden, the trouble is likely related to the soil. First,call your cooperative extension for advice; if they can't suggest aremedy, consider a soil test. For a fee, a professional lab willanalyze a sample of your garden soil to determine if it has anutrient deficiency or other problems and give recommendations forimproving the soil. The following labs perform this service: AtlasConsultants in Nevada ($195; 702/383-1199); IAS Labs in northern Arizona ($68; 602/273-7248); New Mexico State University SWAT lab ($17; www.swatlab.nmsu.edu or 505/646-4422); Texas A&M Soil, Water, and ForageTesting Laboratory ($10; soiltesting.tamu.edu or 979/845-4816).

Zap weeds with vinegar. USDA Agricultural Research Servicestudies show that household vinegar is an effective biodegradableherbicide that kills many weeds, including Canada thistle, duringtheir first two weeks of life. Spray young weeds with undilutedwhite vinegar (5 percent acetic acid) when the air is still, takingcare not to spray desirable plants.

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