Soil pH Levels

Today it’s all about what to plant in July. Yes, you can still plant some seeds this month. It’s not too late to harvest a fall crop. By the way, how is your garden doing? I finally got some zucchini this year, I know people grow a ton of that great vegetable. Well, not me, at least the last 2 years. Good grief. I taught myself how to pollinate the flowers this year because we have a bit of a shortage of bees where I live. So, this year I took care of it by doing the pollination myself! And I have zucchini growing like crazy, just like years ago. Mission accomplished. Where I buy my garden seeds: SeedsNow

Are you wondering what the term pH level is when gardening? Each plant prefers a different level of acidity to grow the very best harvest. The level of acidity desired varies between each plant. Therefore, you can adjust the pH of your soil by adding lime or sulfur to bring it up or down depending on what your soil needs. You can have your soil tested, possibly by your state extension service, or try and do it your self with a soil tester. pH Tester

All you need is a paintbrush or cotton swab (see above). If you need to hand pollinate because you are not seeing any fruit develop, here is something you may want to try. You do this by removing the male blossom (male blossoms do not have fruit behind them). They produce pollen leaving the center covered in the pollen to collect with the brush or swab. Use a brush or swab to apply the pollen you collected to the center of the female flower. This works for squash, melons, and cucumbers every time.

Cucumbers thrive when the weather is hot and they receive a lot of water. Plant them in full sun. If you planted seeds inside make sure you don’t set your seedlings outside until the weather is in the 70-degree range. Check the last frost date and wait two weeks before planting the seedlings or seeds outside. You can plant a second set of cucumber seeds the first week of July and still be able to harvest them before the first fall frost date.

Decide if you want to grow bush cucumbers or cucumbers on the vine. I have always had better luck with bush cucumbers. Bush cucumbers work great in pots or in small gardens. This is why they do better in my raised gardens. I suggest you stagger when planting the seeds because you will have cucumbers bearing at different times during the growing season, instead of all at the same time producing a huge picking.

Cucumbers like compost and composted well-rotted manure. They need well-fertilized soil. Cucumbers grow fast and don’t depend on a lot of care or work to get them to thrive. When watering, try and keep the leaves dry to keep leaf diseases from forming. Male blooms show up first and drop off. No worries, within a week or two, a female flower will appear. If not, you may have to do hand pollination. You do this by removing the male blossom, leaving the center covered in the pollen. Use a brush or cotton swab to apply the pollen you collected to the center of the female flower.

Use metal cages for vines, the cucumbers will hang better on those because they will attach easier to the wires when growing. Plant two to three seeds about one-inch into the soil, and cover with the soil. If the soil is moist and warm you will see sprouts within a few days. Plant the seeds or plants 36-60 inches apart. Bush cucumbers can be planted closer. Cucumbers grow start to finish in 50-70 days.

pH level for Cucumbers: 6.5 to 7.0

I have always grown bush beans, they have a shorter growing time, from 60-70 days. Just enough time if you plant the seeds in the first few days of July.

This is one of my favorite vegetables to grow. When our girls were growing up we grew a lot of green beans. We canned bushels of them in our pressure cooker. They taste so good when they are freshly picked. I only grew bush beans, but you can plant pole beans if you have a way to support them up off the ground. Bush beans grow about 2 feet tall, and the pole beans grow up to 10 feet tall. Bush beans are ready to pick about 50-55 days after planting. Pole beans take a bit longer, so plan on 55-65 days to harvest.

Please remember, if you can stagger the plantings every 2 weeks you can harvest green beans for weeks rather than all at once in one week.

Green beans like a good composted rich soil with rotted-manure. You plant the seeds 1-2 -inches deep and cover with soil. Space the seeds in rows about 6-8 inches apart. Water immediately and keep regularly watering them until they begin to sprout. After they begin sprouting they need 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week. They need full sun, so plant accordingly. They grow best when the air temperatures are between 65 to 85 degrees.

When the green beans are the size of a pencil they are ready. They can toughen up very quickly, so check on them often. You pick them by snapping them off at the vine.

pH level for Green Beans: 6.0 to 6.2

The nice thing about lettuce is it’s so easy to grow and it sprouts up pretty fast. Just make sure the soil is loosened, loamy, and well drained. Lettuce loves nitrogen and potassium, so keep your eye on the leaves as they start to grow. Work in a lot of organic matter or compost. Lettuce matures in 55 to 60 days. Romaine takes longer to mature, and so does head lettuce varieties.

Summer Lettuce Seeds: Summer Bibb

Other heat resistance varieties, Adriana, Coastal Star, Red Cross, and Muir.

Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep, tamp them in the soil, and water them in. Easy and simple. Read the package to space according to the lettuce you choose. Seeds will not germinate in soils above 80 degrees F. You can start some seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings into a shady spot when the weather is too hot outside. You may want to choose heat resistant varieties if you live where the temperatures get too hot in the summer. It’s better to pick early than late because the leaves become bitter if you wait too long.

pH level for Lettuce: 6.0-7.0

Summer Squash: zucchini, crookneck, and straight-neck (harvested in the summer before they reach maturity). Yes, you can start a second planting if you plant the summer squash seeds by the first week or so of July.

Winter Squash: pumpkins, butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squash (harvested in the autumn months after they reach maturity).

When you plant the seeds, test the soil to make sure it is at least 60 degrees F. before sowing your seeds. They need full sun exposure. They need loamy soil, rich in nutrients. The soil must drain properly. Plant the seeds in hills (2-3 seeds each) one-inch deep. Space them 2-3 feet apart. Thin as needed to produce the strongest plant. Use a cloche to keep the plants warm in case of cool weather. Mulch the plants to keep them moist and weed free. When the first blooms appear, fertilize the plants.

Water deeply, at least one inch of water per week. The soil needs to be moist 4 inches down. If your blossom ends turn black and rot, then you have blossom rot. It’s usually caused by uneven moisture in the soil. It could be a calcium problem. Water must be consistent and frequent for the fruit to produce. If the fruits are misshapen they may not have received enough water or fertilizer. Check for fruit you can pick daily, they grow faster than you may think.

pH level for Squash: 5.5-6.8

It’s all about being self-reliant, and gardening is a great way to do it. It doesn’t have to be the biggest garden on the block, it can be on a small deck with pots planted with the seeds you love to eat. It can be a shared piece of property or several acres. Whatever we can do to produce our own food is one of the best things we can do to teach our family to take care of themselves. So, if you are wondering what to plant in July, now you know and you can pass this information on to your neighbors. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world, Linda

What To Plant In June

What To Plant In May

What To Plant In April

Linda ~
I can not give a review of my Grow Boxes. So, initially I planted a bush cucumber (now deceased), a bush cherry tomato (growing well but no fruit yet), oregano (doing well), basil (not doing as well as I expected), thyme (doing well), carrots (deceased – didn’t develop a good root structure), radishes (same as carrots), lettuce (same as carrots), hyssop (doing well), lavender (not doing well), mint (already harvested some and drying some for teas). I have now planted stevia and garlic chives in place of the lettuce, radishes and carrots. Still hoping what I do have growing well continues but I’m disappointed to say the least. I’ll continue to use the Grow Boxes but will likely only plant herbs as they are the only thing that is really doing well.

Oh, Leanne, that’s interesting. Could you use different soil next time? This year I totally changed the soil in my raised garden beds, and I have the best garden I have had in years. I did not buy Miracle Grow soil this year. Linda

Linda ~ I used just potting mix as they recommended although they did recommend Miracle Grow. I could not afford that so I just got a generic mix. The grow box that I have (had) the cucumber and tomato have the fertilizer that they provided while the other boxes did not. I think that the lettuce/carrots/radishes just did not develop any root structure though. The herb plants were starts and are doing well.

Hi Leanne, every year I learn something new in my garden. We will keep trying to plant those seeds that will produce for us. I think I’ll try and do some research on those. Thanks for letting me know. Linda

Linda- I am happy to say my tomato plants in huge flower pots are doing very well. I have around
2 dozen tomatoes ( mix of cherry and regular ones). My cucumbers I planted in another huge
flower pot is doing great. Working on getting them to trail on they item I have put up.
My mom always planted green beans in the fall besides the spring that way we had fresh green
beans all the time. I didn’t get any planted this year but I’m o.k.
The small farm town I live 5 miles from has been flooded all spring so NO crops this year. So
We do need to try to keep teaching people about where food comes from. About 10 years or so
ago I was talking to a lady and I mentioned I had a lot of cucumbers. She asked me what I was going
to do with them. I said make pickles. She looked at me and said ” I didn’t know pickles were made from cucumbers”. I was in shock and tried not to laugh. That is really sad but yet I grew up in
the country and know about these things. Got to keep teaching the small things.

Hi Judy, oh I love hearing you are having really good luck using large pots to produce tomatoes and cucumbers!! That’s awesome!!! I just fixed my first tomato sandwich a couple of days ago! Pure bliss! Your comment about pickles, oh my gosh, I had to laugh!! I watched my grandmother make watermelon rind pickles and therefore I made them. I watched my mother make pickles from the cucumbers we were growing. So, of course, I made all kinds of pickles. Life is so wonderful when we can harvest our own food. Linda

Hi Linda! So sorry that the Grow Boxes are disappointing, Leanne! But nice that most of the herbs are doing well. Would strawberries like the Grow Box?

Here in NW Florida, it’s very hot, humid (over 85% until afternoon most days) & frequent heavy storms. The sweet potatoes and the vining Malabar spinach are very happy. The onions are about ready to be pulled. The Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato is doing well, the other varieties not so hot. The eggplants are setting blooms, the banana peppers are loaded with fruit and blooms. And I have two teensy bush cucumbers that are just loaded with blooms.

The elderberry cuttings I’ve been transplanting out of the reach of the goats are growing well. A few even bloomed and are setting berries this month.

I was interested in creating more earthworm castings and ordered a lb. of composting worms this month. For now, they are living in one of the recycled 100 gallon livestock tanks that are used as container gardens. I dig a trench about 12 – 15 inches deep and at least a foot long, lay shredded leaves, cardboard or paper in the bottom of the trench, then add kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, old manure, grassclippings ,etc. , then cover the trench. I’m doing this about twice a week. The worms seem to be doing well. As I get trenches made in the 4×8 raised beds, I hope to transfer excess worms there. I also hope to have deep trenches between the two fig trees I started from cuttings this spring and transfer more composting worms to help with soil fertility and increase the water holding capability of that part of the garden.

Hi BDN, I love hearing your garden is doing so well. Each year we learn something new. You are going to have great compost by doing what you’re doing! WOW! Talk about inspiration. It’s crazy we have “critters” that visit so I always worry about doing the composting. They have a buffet via my garden!! LOL! I have to gather my harvest every day or it may come up missing!! Life is so good! Linda

Linda, we too have “critters” that raid the garden beds! I drive 6′ T posts at the corners of the raised beds, use 3′ tall chicken or rabbit fence, use bird netting over the tops of vulnerable crops, even put out live traps,

Burying the food scraps at least a foot deep in the raised beds and deeper in the future worm trenches, then covering with the soil from the trench and adding a hefty layer of mulch has worked pretty well so far.

We also have black drainage pipe composters in the raised beds and bigger container beds. My husband cut the pipe in 15-18″ sections, then drilled several holes about 3-6″ from one end. We dig a hole deep enough that just a few inches of the drainage pipe is above ground, place the pipe with drilled holes end down in the bottom of the hole. Layer shredded paper, leaves, kitchen waste, eggshells, coffee grounds, grass clippings, etc. & fill the pipe. Wet all the compost down and keep it covered. Water it weekly just enough to keep the contents moist. We use recycled food containers that fit the diameter of the pipe as covers and weight the cover with a brick. A patio stone would also work as a cover. 6″- 10″ diameter white pvc can also be used as the pipe.

These composter pipes attract & feed any earthworms that may already be in the garden bed. Also any kitchen scraps are protected from the critters as there should be little odor if layered correctly. In addition, as the contents decompose nutrients are released directly into the garden bed and feed the roots of the plants growing in the bed.

Long process to improve soil, but the end results are well worth the effort!

Hi BDN, oh my gosh, thank you for these instructions, I love it! I have got to do this, it will for sure improve my harvest! Thanks again, Linda

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I’m Linda Loosli. I’m the owner and editor of Food Storage Moms. I’m so happy you’ve found us. Our goal at Food Storage Moms is to help “one family at a time.”

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