Gardening Calendar for
July through August and sometimes September:
The long, hot days of summer
Plant or Transplant Palms. Palms
establish better during summer--the warm soil encourages rapid growth of the
grasslike roots. Set out new plants from containers or transplant young
palms July or August.
Vegetables. Continue to sow seed of sweet corn
and summer squash directly in the garden. Plant corn at 3-week intervals for
a succession of harvests. In
August, start seeds of cool-season vegetables in pots and they'll be ready
to transplant to the winter garden by mid-September.
Soil Prep for Planting. New lawns, as well as
vegetable and flower beds, prefer a well-prepared soil high in organic
matter. Late in August, add a 3- to 4-inch layer of ground bark products or
compost, plus 1 pound of ammonium phosphate per every 100 square feet over
the planting area. Mix into the top 8 to 10 inches of soil. Dig planting
holes (start early in the morning when it's cool) for trees and shrubs
you'll plant from containers September and October.
Summer is the time to be diligent
when watering. Container plants and those recently planted have little
margin for error. Forget to water them properly during the next few months
may cause their death. Water such plants every day, or at least a few times
a week. Established trees and shrubs will generally do with a good soaking
once or twice a month, depending on amount of rainfall received. Best time
to water is early in the A.M. to hydrate plants for the long, hot day ahead.
Monitor Summer Rains. From now until about
mid-September, some lucky regions in the Southwest will benefit from the
localized summer storms called monsoons. Your landscape plants will
appreciate the cooling showers, but the rain often doesn’t do as much good
as you might imagine. Dig down near plant roots to see if enough moisture
soaked into the soil to count for an irrigation.
Mulch to Conserve. Add a 3- to 4-inch layer of
mulch--compost, ground bark, or shredded fir bark--over the root area of
landscape plants and around summer vegetables such as tomatoes, squash,
beans and peppers. It conserves the water you or mother nature applies plus
cools the upper layer of soil.
Prepare for Strong Winds.
A counterpart to summer rains
are strong, sometimes violent winds. Avoid heavy irrigation if you know
heavy winds are in the forecast--young trees can be blown over in saturated
soil. Lightly thin canopy-shaped trees (such as some mesquites and acacias)
so breezes can pass through branches rather than catching “umbrella-style.”
Control Garden Pests. Summer is the most active
time of year for pests. Get in the habit of inspecting your plants at least
once a week (vegetables and fruits even more often) during the warm season
to catch pest and disease damage early. Be on the lookout for spider mites;
they set up housekeeping on the undersides of leaves. Stippled yellowing
leaves and fine webbing are signs of their activity. Wash leaves clean with
water and spray infested areas, especially leaf undersides, with
insecticidal soap. Grape leaf skeletonizers come and go through summer.
Watch for the slow-moving black moths as they fly around your vines, looking
to lay their eggs. Examine undersides of leaves for the egg clusters or the
black and yellow caterpillars. Clip and destroy infested leaves.
Weed Patrol. Pre-emergent sprays kill weed seeds
before they germinate. Apply them late June to early July before moisture
from summer rains prompts the summer crop. Weeds that do sprout thrive in
the summer heat, especially if summer storms are generous. Once a downpour
ends, take advantage of the moist ground and pull weeds--roots and all. Don’t
drop them--toss them--into the trash or compost pile, or they’ll reseed to
plague you later on.
Check Plant Ties. Landscape plants are growing
rapidly. Check plant ties at tree stakes and on vines. Loosen or remove them
to prevent serious damage to trunks and stems.
Fertilize Lawns and Landscape Plants. The
frequent irrigations, necessary in summer, wash nutrients (primarily
nitrogen) out of plants' root zone. Plus the long, sun-filled days
accelerates growth, causing plants to need extra nutrients now. Apply
ammonium sulfate or similar high-nitrogen fertilizer monthly July through
September. Fertilize citrus for the final time this year no later than early
September. A fall application produces new tender growth that's more
susceptible to frost damage.
Move Container Plants. If your container plants
are mobile, give them a vacation from the long, intense hours of sunshine
and move to dappled shade beneath trees, or to an eastern (morning sun only)
Cut Back Tomato Plants. The summer sun has
probably taken a toll on your tomato plants. Cutting them back July-August
results in fresh new growth with fresh new flowers, and with some luck, a
new crop of tomatoes by fall.