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Keep Picking Produce

In the Pacific Northwest, July is the first month we might see consistently warm temperatures. Warm-season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, cucurbits (melons, pumpkins, squash, and cucumber), and green beans are responding with good growth – so long as you keep them watered. Production plantings (things you eat) need at least 1” of water per week to keep producing. Cool-season crops have already bolted (set seed) and turned bitter. Peas have long since dried up in the heat. Lettuce has bolted unless it was planted in the shade. You might be picking the first beans and cherry tomatoes.


Just like deadheading your annuals, keeping your vegetables picked will stimulate them to continue producing. Pick them small and often. Not only are the vegetables more tender, but they are usually tastier too.

07 tomatoes-1561565_1920 kie-ker from pixabay.jpg

Tomatoes-1561565_1920 kie-ker from pixabay

Fresh tomatoes are a daily treat for picking.

If you planted consecutive crops, you’ve been harvesting for quite a while. Maybe your neighbors are starting to run when you arrive with more zucchini. But eating your produce fresh (within a day or two of picking) is best for nutrition. If you have extra produce, consider branching out into preserving or donate to your local food bank, where your extra produce will be welcomed with enthusiasm.

Keep Monitoring for Insect Pests

Pests can detect when plants are stressed. Spider mites quickly go from a nuisance to devastating when plants don’t get enough water. Look on the underside of leaves, where you might see very fine webs and tiny moving spots. Use a magnifying glass to see the mites or hold a sheet of paper underneath while you gently tap on the branch.


Beetles of all sizes can be chewing holes in your leaves. Caterpillars tend to eat from the outside in and you’ll notice their frass (insect poop) that looks like lumps of dark blobs in the notches of leaves. You might notice sticky areas that turn black – a sure sign that aphids are producing dew that gets colonized by mold. Ants might be visiting in great numbers and along a specific path; they actually “farm” aphids for the dew produced.

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Photo used with permission

Look closely to see the mites on this green pepper plant.

Make an easy monitoring trap by coating a yellow or red, apple-sized/shaped ball with tanglefoot. Suspend it by wire or on a stick. Check it regularly for any insects that adhere. Familiarize yourself with what fruit flies and other pests look like. Be aware that pheromone baits will bring insects to wherever you hang them, so don’t hang them next to your crops.


If you see pests, address it in the least impactful and most specific manner possible. Using pesticides indiscriminately will also take out your pollinators.

Monitor for Fungal Disease

Powdery mildew, rusts, and leaf spots are regular visitors to Pacific Northwest gardens. They get started in cool and damp weather and progress through the season.


Splashing water is an effective way to transmit spores, so water from below without wetting foliage if possible.


Judicious leaf pruning is the first step to limiting the damage. Do not put the diseased leaves in your compost pile but dispose of them in a manner that will not re-inoculate your plants.

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Photo used with permission

Blackspot on roses is common in our area.

Monitor for Bacterial and Viral Diseases

Bacterial diseases often look like weeping sores on hardwoods. Viral diseases often look like angular “bleached out” spots on leaves. Treatments for these usually aren’t effective or long lasting. It’s better to remove the plants and either burn them or take them to the landfill.

Monitor for Nutrient Deficiencies

Jaundiced leaves can indicate a lack of nitrogen. Dark green veins in light-colored leaves can indicate an iron deficiency. Tomatoes that have black necrotic tissue at the flower end is probably caused by a calcium deficiency.


Having a soil test done is the surest way to identify nutrient deficiencies, but your plants will give you hints too.


An excellent, picture-based diagnostic manual is Landscape Plant Problems, available for sale from Washington State University Extension.

Divide Spring-Flowering Perennials

After your spring-flowering perennials have stopped blooming and the foliage has died down, it’s a good time to divide them. Indications that it’s time to divide are reduced flowering and congested growth.


Research individual perennials to determine how best and how often to divide them.

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Photo used with permission

Bearded iris, Iris germanica, will flourish if divided every few years.

Authored by Katie Reid Levine, Island County Master Gardener
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