Even though home gardens are well established by midsummer, weeds will continue to sprout and compete with garden plantings for water and nutrients. It's important to remove this weedy competition, and hand pulling is my favorite method. Other means of controlling weeds include using mulches, both organic and non-organic. For example, a 1-inch layer of bark dust or sawdust will deter most annual weeds. A mulch of newspaper -- five sheets thick -- covered with bark dust, clean straw, or compost, will help control weeds and conserve soil moisture.
Prevent Cucumber Bitterness
Cucumbers develop a bitter taste if the soil is not kept consistently moist. Harvest cucumbers for pickling whole when they are 2 to 4 inches long. Harvest for table use when they're longer than 5 inches. Remove any overripe cucumbers to encourage continuous production.
Make Handy Iris Tags
I'm always moving my iris around to create more interesting and more pleasing color combinations. The trouble is, their identifying labels seem to drift away. Instead of placing labels in the ground, I've found a better way to keep plants and labels together. I use the extra-wide, green plastic plant ties available at garden centers, and with a permanent marking pen write the name of the iris and the flower color on one end of the strip of plastic. I then wrap the tie loosely around the base of the plant and tie the strip in a knot. When the time comes to rearrange the garden, all I have to do is pick up the loose ends of the ties to remind me which plants are which.
Reseed Bare Spots
Summer is a good time to reseed bare spots in the lawn. Rough up the soil in bare areas with a rake, sprinkle grass seed, cover with peat moss or bark dust, and keep moist. In 7 to 10 days your new grass will sprout and grow, becoming lush and thick before autumn weather arrives.
Provide Morning Showers
This hottest part of the summer is perfect for fungus growth. Make sure you water in the morning, giving leaves and mulch time to dry off before nightfall. Nothing makes fungi happier than a warm, wet, still summer night.