Gardening with Laurie: Surviving the summer heat
By Laurie Garretson
July 4, 2013 at 2:04 a.m.
Gardeners love planting and growing things. We also enjoy harvesting all our homegrown vegetables and fruits. Usually by the time July gets here, we gardeners are not as anxious to do much of anything outdoors except sit in the shade with a cold drink.
Just because it's hot, the garden chores do not stop. We still have lots to tend to in the gardens. If you still have plants producing in the vegetable garden, keep a close watch on them. High temperatures and lack of rain can easily stress plants. Stressed plants can attract pests and disease problems.
Check daily for signs of trouble. It will be much easier to correct problems as they first get started than after you have an infestation.
I look forward to this time of year when I have fresh figs available. Without much rain, I'm trying to keep enough water on my figs to keep them happy.
Figs have a very shallow root system that can quickly dry out in this heat. Keeping a few inches of a good organic mulch all under the plant sure helps keeping the moisture in the soil.
If figs are smaller in size than normal and don't seem to be ripening, it is most likely due to the lack of water. Increase your watering and in a few weeks, the figs should get bigger and ripen.
Another good thing about mulch is that it will help to shade out weed seeds. Mulch will help prevent pesky weeds from taking over and competing with your desirable plants.
If you are putting down a new lawn or just a few pieces of grass, you will have to keep it well-watered for the first few weeks. Even drought-tolerant Bermuda grass will need frequent watering to get established.
Limit the amount of foot traffic on all new sod. A smooth, new lawn won't be smooth for long after it has been walked on while it's getting established. It is not easy to level out a bumpy lawn after it's rooted in.
Try to keep dead blooms snipped off all blooming plants. This along with fertilizing will help them to continue blooming. Keeping the blooms pinched off your caladiums will help these plants to keep producing the beautiful, colorful foliage we grow them for.
It is a good idea to allow your lawn to grow a bit taller during these hottest days of the year. The taller blades of grass will help to shade the soil and help to reduce moisture loss. This means less watering for you.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.