Gardening with Laurie: Surviving the dog days of summer

Aug. 18, 2011 at 3:18 a.m.

By Laurie Garretson

The good news is we are more than half way through the summer season. The bad news is, it still looks like we’ll have several more very hot dry weeks a head of us. This means we still need to keep up our watering and fertilizing schedules, watering being a must.

There are many chores that can be done now that will help prepare plants and flowerbeds for the up coming fall season. This is a good time to add in some compost and organic granular fertilizer to beds that have been cleaned out. Getting beds ready now will give the soil some time to mellow a bit before your fall plantings.

Potted plants can take extra care during the dry, hot summer. Pot saucers can be a big help keeping potted plants well hydrated, but do not let any plant sit in water more than 24 hours at a time. Moving potted plants to an area with afternoon shade will benefit all plant life at this time of year. Potted plants also can benefit from being mulched, just as your flowerbeds do.

Keep in mind that glazed pots hold moisture longer than porous pot, such as terra cotta do. This means less watering will generally be needed for glazed pots. Smaller pots require more watering than larger sizes. When in doubt about watering needs for containers, stick a finger down in the soil to check for moisture. The soil in containers might look dry on top but still be damp below.

With all the watering we are doing in our landscapes, we are leaching out many nutrients from the soil. Keep up with your fertilizing. Nitrogen is one of the beneficial nutrients that can be easily depleted from soils. Cottonseed meal, greensand and corn gluten meal are good nitrogen sources. Natural fertilizers can be applied at any time of the year without being watered in and will not burn.

There is still time to solarize any areas in the landscape to get rid of weeds or unwanted vegetation. The temperatures will be hot enough for several more weeks to provide lots of heat that will do a good job of “cooking” all kinds of undesirable vegetation.

Don’t put off getting your fall tomatoes planted. Now is the time to get transplants in the ground or into containers.

Compost piles need moisture to break materials down. An occasional spraying from the garden hose is needed when it’s this hot and dry. During these hot, dry days of summer you might try covering the pile to help keep moisture in.

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 or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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