Release date: July 8, 2014
Contact: A. Lynette Parsons, 409-550-3065
Summertime, and the livin’ is brutal, to change the song. Our near-drought conditions of June changed as the floodgates have opened, and getting the mowing done between the raindrops can be a challenge.
The lawns are green and healthy, but the flower beds and the vegetable gardens are looking a bit peaked right now. Dead-heading your roses and zinnias, for example, to keep the bushes looking more presentable, will also assist in future blooms. If you haven’t already planted some seriously heat-tolerant flowers, consider plumbago, yellow bells (Tacoma stans), pride of Barbados, salvias, and cuphea. Garden centers generally try to cut their losses this time of year, and you can get some bedraggled plants for rock bottom prices. And while their survival may be hit or miss, it’s always fine to brag when you have brought a plant back to life in your yard.
Remember, whenever the sun hits the soil, nature plants a weed! Anytime you disturb the ground, for construction projects, for tilling a garden, or even just weeding by hand, you are stirring up seeds that may have been lying in wait, or knocking off seeds from nearby weeds. “Constant vigilance” is the key, and of course, that goes for the nasty bugs as well. Attention to these tasks is not easy in July, but after 7:00 in the evening, it can be almost pleasant to take a stroll outside to check out the activity in the yard.
Trees and shrubs that are less than 3 years old are still establishing their root systems. Watering them so the soil gets wet a foot deep on a weekly basis will really help them thrive. So if these rainstorms slacken, keep that watering schedule in the back of your mind. And while the water is trickling in, check your fruit and nut trees for those usual summertime problems, like aphids, scale, and leafminers. If your leaves on your citrus look like they have a charcoal coating, for example, it’s a dead giveaway that you have those insects, because the sooty mold is a direct result of their activity. Spraying with oils designed for summer use (not dormant season oils) will clean everything up for you.
And if your crape myrtles are getting a little sooty as well, thin out some of the branches. Their biggest foes are a lack of air circulation and no sunlight, so opening up the crape myrtle canopy will allow them to flower disease free. Vitex can be trimmed heavily right now, and will bloom again after you do so.
Vegetables that can be planted now include heat-loving okra, our southern peas, and melons; and if you can find pepper and eggplants to transplant, they should survive well. You can get pumpkins and the winter squashes started; just remember with all of this, that water and a good layer of mulch will be deciding factors on whether your plants will survive our good Texas summers.
As always, if you have yard and garden questions, contact the Chambers County Agri-Life Extension office for assistance.
– Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.