Prune Spring Flowering Shrubs
Finish up any pruning of spring flowering shrubs such as spirea, lilac, and forsythia soon so that you aren't pruning off the wood that will produce the buds for next spring's flowers. Remove up to a third of the oldest wood on overgrown plants and head back branches to a lower branch or outward-facing bud to control size and shape growth.
Don't Fertilize Your Lawn
Putting fertilizer on your lawn in the middle of the summer just feeds the weeds. Wait until September to give your grass its main feeding of the year.
Protect Developing Melons and Squashes
As the fruits on melon, squash, and pumpkin vines develop, make sure they are not resting on bare soil, which makes them more susceptible to fruit rot diseases. Place a thick mat of straw under each fruit or set it on a support such as a wooden shingle or a recycled cottage cheese container.
Harvest herbs such as basil, dill, marjoram, and tarragon regularly to keep plants producing new growth. Dry what you don't use fresh. Hang bunches in a dark, airy spot or dry flat on a piece of cheesecloth stretched over a frame for a couple of weeks until dry and brittle. Then store in sealed jars.
Check for Mexican Bean Beetles
In spite of their name, these pests can be found dining on all kinds of beans in our region. The adults look like large lady bugs -- and are in fact a relation -- but these black-spotted, coppery brown beetles feed on bean leaves, turning them into lacy skeletons. Overwintered adult beetles home in on young plants in June and feed for a couple of weeks before females begin laying eggs. Control adult beetles and the spiny, hump-backed yellow larvae by handpicking or spraying with a registered insecticide. Look for and squash the masses of yellow-orange eggs on the undersides of bean leaves.