Hands in the Dirt: MLT gardening tips for July 2021

How did your garden fare through the heat wave? The Ballinger Organic Garden (BOG) did pretty well, with only the tips of some rhubarb leaves a bit crispy and a bit of leaf curl on some plants.  The high water table at Ballinger Park may have helped keep everything hydrated.

Many folks weren’t so lucky and have a lot of sunburned plants. If that’s you, some of the “experts” are recommending to leave your plants alone for a bit.  It can hurt to see it in the garden, but by leaving the damaged plants alone for a while you do two things: 1) allow the plant to recover from the heat damage prior to pruning off damaged leaves, and 2) allow the damaged leaves to provide shade for the newer, healthy leaves that are just developing.

To prevent heat stress if we get another stretch of intense heat, water deeply first thing in the morning, mulch to reduce evaporation, and reduce competition for water by pulling weeds early. The good news is that these are all things we recommend on a regular basis and are always good ideas, heat wave or not!

It’s not too late to get short-season (50 days or less) summer crops in the ground. These include some cucumbers, bush beans and even some summer squash. Salad greens can be planted, but may immediately bolt in the heat.

Don’t forget to plant for fall – it can be easy to miss out on planting for fall harvest when the garden is so full of life, but now is the time to be starting those seeds for the cool season garden. Fall crops of beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peas, spinach, swiss chard and turnips can all be planted now to be enjoyed later. Remember that most seeds need to stay evenly moist to germinate, which can be difficult in the garden in July, and some seeds may do better started inside (or in a pot where you can easily watch the water level) and transplanted after germination.

Have a question about gardening? Ask it on our Facebook page.

About the BOG

The Ballinger Organic Garden is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park. The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (creek restoration and trail installation) are completed. Phase 0 includes maintenance of the existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park. Phase 1 will involve installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain.  Want to volunteer, or have an idea of what you want to see in the future garden? Please let us know.

To stay up to date on what is happening at the BOG, including what’s growing, work parties, and events, follow us on Facebook  or Instagram.

— By Robyn Rice

Robyn Rice grew up in Eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking up rotten fruit as dreaded chores assigned by her Master Gardener father. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm, and has been gardening in the Seattle area since 2010. Her science background leads to endless research about the “correct” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and sense of adventure leads her to garden fearlessly because hey, what’s the worst that could happen?




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