What can you do with your NJ garden in July?

Mid July heats up NJ like no other! If you thought it was time to ditch the shovel in favor of sitting in front of the air conditioner, guess again, organic gardener. There’s a whole host of garden veggies that live for the scorching summer weather.

What sort of gardening can you do in July if you live in NJ Zone 6?

Harvest! There’s plenty to pick, eat and enjoy during the bountiful NJ gardening month of July.

Zucchini and cucumbers should be producing by now. Tomato and pepper plants will have begun yielding you some salsa-fresh goodness (depending of course on when you put them in).

Broccolis that you seeded in April will have formed nice heads now. Cut off the crowns soon – don’t wait until they flower because bolted broccoli disappoints when it comes to flavor.

Cabbages should be harvested and stored, or made into a tasty slaw that goes great with smoked and grilled meats.

Green beans are ready to pick – snap some off the vine for a healthy, fresh-from-the-garden snack!

Remove, refresh, relocate. If you didn’t do it at end of June, July is as good a time as any to get rid of those bolted lettuces, broccoli plants that went to seed, beets that keep getting bigger (and more bitter), as well as any other spring stragglers. (Pictured: red lettuce, having sent up a stalk. Get rid of it!)

Peas are finished, making room for green beanssummer squash and whatever else you can squeeze into their space. (Did you know that peas leave behind tomato-friendly goodness in the soil?)

Drop in those last few tomato plants. Tardy with your tomatoes? Not to worry. If there are still plants to buy at the NJ nurseries, then you can still add them to your garden. Look for the biggest, fattest ones you can find, and make sure they’ve got plenty of yellow flowers, or even actual ripening fruits. We’re holding out hope for some heirloom varieties we discovered at Home Depot earlier this month. Don’t forget to bury your tomato plants 2/3 of the way in.

Seed some beets, broccoli, chard, and hot-weather loving lettuceThese are fast to mature (30-60 days), so you should see some edible results for your effort by end of August and September.

Many beginner gardeners don’t think of September as a time to harvest or even grow veggies, but that’s just not so. Peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant make a nice showing of harvest-ready fruits at that time – think chili cookoff.

And especially the cool-weather lovers like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and kale will be growing nicely through September, maturing and ready to pick and eat in October and November. But you have to get them started now, or at least by early August – so clean out those beds and sprinkle or poke in some seeds while the growing is good!

Spread some compost love. Tomatoes and eggplant love eggshells and coffee grinds, so add those to the soil around those plants as well. After you compost, give your thirsty garden a good watering. It’s just the boost your growing plants need after all this extreme heat.

So, with any luck, you’re having as much fun as we are with your July gardening project.