Now comes the payoff for gardening

July 18, 2012 

Get into your garden this week to harvest the cool-season crops that are just now maturing and fertilize the crops you intend to harvest later this summer.

Right about now, you should be able to harvest peas, lettuce, chard, radish and beets. While you’re out there picking, fertilize the young plants of warm-season crops such as corn, beans, cucumbers and squash. A side dressing of slow release or organic plant food this week will help them gear up for big-time veggie production.

Side dressing is not a fashion statement – it refers to the technique of spreading a band of fertilizer along the side of a row of plants where the tips of the roots would be growing.

July is a good month to consider adding a water feature to the garden. Birds and other wildlife are naturally attracted to water and gardeners now have a lot more options for adding water beyond the traditional in ground pond or pool.


Apartment dwellers or those with a balcony or tiny patio can enjoy the sound of water and visiting hummingbirds by choosing a table-top recirculating fountain. Even a small water feature will add humidity, sound and the soothing look of water. Table top fountains can be found at home and craft supply stores in kits that include the pump, water receptacle and tubing


If you have room for a half wine barrel or similar sized porcelain container you can enjoy growing miniature water lilies and floating plants and make a great home for a gold fish or two.

Self-contained water gardens in pots work best when you pay attention to the delicate eco-system that is created when you group plants, fish and water together. The best place to explore your options for a mini-pond like this is to visit a garden center or nursery that sells aquatic plants. This is where you can also buy the container and special water plant fertilizer to get you started. Never use regular plant food near or in a water garden. The nitrogen will cause an excess of algae growth and this robs oxygen from the fish.


A recirculating pump and pondless waterfall is the answer if you have safety concerns about adding water to the landscape. A pondless water feature can include a recirculating waterfall that splashes into a bed of rocks and boulders before draining below to a hidden catch basin and is recirculated back to the top of the waterfall. There is no standing water so no risk of drowning and very little maintenance.

Simply use the hose to top off the water basin under the rocks every few weeks during periods of no rainfall. In our garden, the pondless waterfall we had installed 10 years ago needs filling just a couple of times during the summer. It runs all year long with no other maintenance, no algae buildup, no chemicals, no insects but plenty of birds, butterflies and a resident frog.

There are many versions of a pondless water feature including large boulders drilled with a center hole that spouts a trickle of water. The water overflows from the top of the rock and is captured below in the rock-filled basin. These drilled-rock water features take up little room in the landscape but add plenty of drama especially when located near a front door or back patio and lighted at night. .

Rock quarries and landscape supply companies are a good place to start your hunt for the perfect rock fountain. For the installation or a pondless waterfall or to learn how to install one yourself in a weekend of work, contact author and local water garden expert Mark the Pond Guy at

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