Summer is here for certain. It was 101 degrees in Smithville yesterday, a record, I believe. Though not a big time for planting (except for some heat tolerant annual vegetables and flowers), the garden still requires some attention this month.
The drought remains, and you will need to water any non-native plants deeply at least twice a week unless we have a rain event. Be sure to soak the plants rather than just sprinkling them; deep watering encourages deep roots. Potted plants may require daily watering unless they are in almost complete shade.
You should have some sort of fertilization program in mind. I usually apply organic granular or ground fertilizers in March, and then follow up over the summer with a monthly (or sometimes more often) foliar feeding with a liquid organic preparation. I use the Medina “Hasta Grow Plant” preparation, which is a mixture of fish meal, kelp, and other micronutrients. Looking out of my breakfast room window later in the day, I swear I can see a difference in their deep green color and size. It’s very easy to apply with a hose end sprayer; simply pour into the bottle, turn the dial to 1 Tbs. per gallon, and spray the foliage until it runs off. I can apply it over my large two lot garden in less than an hour.
If you are watering regularly, you’ll have to mow at least every week. Remember to mow high at 1 ½” or more (again encouraging the roots to grow deeply) and to leave the clippings on the lawn. I use a mulching lawn mower that circulates the clippings beneath and chops them fine. I only fertilize twice a year in March and October with corn gluten meal, and always get many compliments on the vigor of my St. Augustine lawn.
We should be cutting off dead blooms from roses and other flowering plants to encourage rapid re-bloom. You can cut dead and diseased wood from shrubs and trees at any time, but avoid cutting oaks now as the insect that transfers oak wilt is at work in summer and you don’t want to risk introducing that deadly disease to you or your neighbor’s trees.
Now is the time to plant more Okra, Squash and other cucurbit fruits/vegetables like Cucumbers, Pumpkins, Watermelons, and Cantaloupe. Southern Peas and Potatoes can also be planted now. If you start your own transplants for Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant, start them indoors now. If you can find the seed or small plants, try the Cherry Tomato variety ‘Sungold’. I believe they are the tastiest and sweetest of any tomato I’ve every grown. Warm weather annual flowers like Blue Daze, Cockscomb, Cosmos, Gomphrena, Periwinkle, Salvia, and Zinnias can also be seeded or transplanted now.