Garden Chores for July
By Bob Dailey
It’s not too late to plant some vegetables. Okra, Southern peas (black eyes, purple hulls, crowders),l Malabar spinach, If you want to grow pumpkins or winter squash, do it this week. As far as tomatoes, here in Montgomery County, the first week in August is the best time to plant transplants, if you can find them. Make sure you keep the soil moist and use a mulch to help keep moisture in the ground.
Summer is a stressful time for perennials and annuals, although native plants will fare better than introduced ones. Ensure you irrigate at least 8 inches deep. Drip irrigation works best. Find emitters that will provide a gallon per hour to thoroughly penetrate the soil in your flower beds. Robert “Skip” Richter, an AgriLife horticulturalist, points out that zinnias, marigolds, Mexican sunflower, sunflowers, and moss rose, among others, are good summer annuals. Check for insect pests, like spider mites and aphids. Usually, a quick, hard spray of water will dislodge them.
Turf grass-like St. Augustine needs no more than one inch per week. That includes rain. So if it rains a half-inch, you only need to irrigate a half-inch more. Use the cycle and soak method when irrigating. If you plan to water each zone for 20 minutes, water each zone for 10 minutes, and then run each zone for another 10 minutes. That will leave time for water to sink into the ground instead of running off into the street. More than an inch of water a week can wreak havoc with your yard, weaken grassroots, encourage damaging fungi, and invite unwanted pests.
Mow weekly, but set your mower to the highest level. The less of the grass blade you cut off, the more able the grass to produce more food.
Do not fertilize your lawn during the summer unless there is an exceptional reason why you may need to. If you mulch your clippings, you are actually returning a lot of nutrients back into the soil. Also, don’t use any broadleaf weed control when the temperature is above 80 degrees. They can stress St. Augustine. Stressed St. Augustine is more susceptible to disease and pest damage.
A Gardeners Health
We are entering a scorching period. Drink plenty of fluids. Wear a hat. Try to protect areas that are exposed to the sun. Too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancer and other skin problems.