Happy July – a month that promises to be full of garden and landscaping surprises. We always wonder if we will have a driveway left after a rain event – oh the joys of living on a hill! Speaking of rain – water is critical for plants in this hot month.
All plants need more water as temperatures rise. Water is critical in the desert, but don’t let your plants become “drip sip” junkies. Instead of a little bit of water every day, water less often but for longer time, so the water sinks in two or even three feet into the ground – where roots should be growing. Roots need to encouraged to grow deep underground where it is cooler. Trees need to be encouraged to anchor themselves well, so apply their water well away from the trunk. This also loses less water to evaporation so soils become less salted over time – and besides, you will save money.
When to water.
Water at dawn to conserve water, discourage fungus, and give plants the water they need as they “wake up” for the new day. Plants only need water when they are photosynthesizing in early morning, and then they generally close down active photosynthesis for most of the day.
Plant Nerd Note – CAM (Crassulean Acid Metabolism) plants do things slightly differently but even for them watering at dawn is still a good idea.
General Things to do this month:
* If you have lawn and mow – sharpen your mower blades. Sharp blades cut cleanly and the grass heals more quickly and cleanly from the cuts.
+ Protect container plants from excessive sun, or water them often.
* Deadhead flowers for extended bloom.
+ If you wish, apply pre-emergent weed control before summer monsoon rains.
* Summer pruning — none! Prune to remove storm damaged branches. If necessary, prune trees to eliminate hazards to humans or structures, but pruning is better done in spring or fall.
Working With Edibles
* Plant a monsoon garden with native vegetables and herbs like amaranth, short-maturity corn, devil’s claw, epazote, squash and tepary beans. Native Seeds/SEARCH carries seed of these. (on Campbell Ave. and online). More about growing epazote in an earlier blog here.
+ It is not too late to plant non-native heat-loving vegetables like black-eyed peas, squash, okra, pumpkin, and watermelon.
* Mulch your vegetable garden if you haven’t already. Mulch with straw or pine needles to retard evaporation and fertilize the soil.
+ Citrus care was discussed earlier in my blog – here.
* Harvest sun ripened fruit – jujubes, apples, apricots, grapes, melons, peaches — and enjoy.
Please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Western National Parks Association, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press). Note – this is an Amazon link – if you click on it and buy my book I get a few pennies.
© All articles are copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.