Everyone is complaining about how hot and dry it is-but let’s face it – it is July and we are in Texas- and it will only get hotter ( and most likely drier) for the next two months . As gardening addicts (we know who we are) we can feel as stressed –as parts of our landscape in this heat and drought look sometimes-so I hope that this newsletter gives you and your garden some relief.
Here is the plan—I am going to make you a schedule that will help both you and your garden look and feel better! Knowing what to do in the garden when a problem arises is more than half the battle-so let’s talk about what could be happening-and if there is a problem-what to do about it.
First let’s talk about you. I know– that you know–that it is best to be outside in the cooler part of the day –and that it feels much better to work in the shade— and that you should drink plenty of liquids, wear sun screen, sun glasses and a hat-so I’m not going to harp on those kind of things. What I am going to do is to give you some advice about how you choose to manage your garden.
A garden or landscape is a living thing-it continues to grow and in the course of that growth we hope that it will prosper but we have to expect that things will go wrong or get a little untidy every once in a while-and manage that on an ongoing basis. I often see gardeners attack their garden chores as though they are going to stay at it until they are finally finished. It is called gardening-(and we don’t ever “get gardened” or finished). Often we have unrealistic ideas of what a proper garden /landscape should be because of what we see on television or in magazines. Give yourself a gift and drop all of those ideas that push you to be stressed-and start just enjoying your garden with these simple tips on management.
Gardening should be a Labor of Love-Not a Love of Labor
Tip # 1 Decide how much time you would actually have to spend gardening each week (along with everything else that you have on your plate). Be realistic. If you allot two hours each week –that would mean that after a month you would have spent a total of eight hours gardening at your own pace instead of spending a whole eight hours in the heat and being worn out, frustrated and sore at the end of it. You will feel more in control of your garden.
Tip # 2 Pick a chore and complete that-don’t think of everything that needs doing-complete one task at a time. If it helps -make a list and mark off tasks as you do them. If the task involves a large area then do it in sections—that way you can feel like you completed a section if the task is too involved to complete in a couple of hours.
Tips # 3 Monitor your garden at least once a week to make sure that a problem hasn’t come along and caused damage. This is an important part of management and can be accomplished by a pleasant garden stroll. This lets you address problems before they get overwhelming. 4
Now –let’s talk about what you should have on your gardening task list for July-and how to handle common heat related problems.
If you have fall blooming perennials like Asters, Fall Obedient Plant, Pineapple Sage, Autumn Joy Sedum, etc and they are over a foot tall –cut them back to a foot tall in July. The reason is to keep them from getting so leggy and falling over when they put on blooms in the fall. ( do this now or before August ) If you have Copper Canyon Daisy that looks leaned over and woody in the center trim it back enough for the stems to pop up once the weight has been removed from the end- usually 1/3. This year you may have already cut any of these a couple of times-you can still continue to trim until august without losing fall bloom.
Autumn Asters Copper Canyon Daisy
If you have any kind of Salvia Farinacea like Henery Duelberg, Mealy Cup or Mystic Spires and they look beat up and tired- cut them back to about 4” above ground and they will renew and bloom until first frost. (you can do this now –or any time before September.
You may deadhead Salvia Greggii if it isn’t blooming good now by removing about . of the tops- wait until the end of August to give it a true 1/3 trim to bush it up.
Raspberry Pink Royal or Furmans Red
Deadhead old blooms from roses and feed them with Humalfa or some other organic rose food-at the drip line. When you dead head your roses ( antiques ,old roses ,or knockouts) cut them back to at least the next two or three five leaf nodes ( a node with a leaf stem that has five leaves on it). Always cut just above a node-leaving the node on the bush. If you don’t take the stem down far enough you will either have blooms that flop over –or-much smaller blooms then if you had clipped down farther on the stem to a five leaf node.
If you notice a plant that has turned brown –check it carefully to see if it has fire ants under it-or check to see if it is being missed by the sprinkler system. If it has fire ants treat it with Nature’s Guide Fireant Killer using the drench method –except do not add soap as the label suggests. If it is just being missed by the sprinkler system then adjust that. Never assume that the plant is dead just because it got too dry. Once the problem that caused the damage has been fixed –it should come back after you trim off the damage. If the plant is an evergreen plant –it may be fall before it starts to put on new growth.
If you see damage on a plant that can’t be explained by a problem with too little or too much water or insect problems –consider that it could be in the wrong sun or shade to be healthy. Do not go by what the tag that came with the plant says to determine how much sun or shade a plant needs- there is a 50/50 chance -at best -that it is good advice for your area. If you need help to determine this – just e-mail me. If you have the Lucy’s Picks CD –it tells you exactly how much sun or shade a plant needs or can take in this area.
Lucy’s Picks – information on 329 plants for this area. It can be purchased at most Organic Garden Centers- if you can’t find it you may order it by email from me-30.00 +tax
If you dig weeds in a flowerbed with shrubs, perennials and annuals planted — be sure to water that bed well after weeding is completed- even if it was watered before you dug weeds. When you pull or dig around plants it allows hot dry air to get into the soil and this can cause plants to wilt and or leaves to turn brown.
If you notice that plants are looking wilted when the sun is actually hitting them-don’t just assume that the plant needs more water. Check it again after the sun has moved off of it—if it has perked up- it was just wilting because the sun was on it at the time. If it still looks wilted it could be too dry– but the problem could also actually be that it is over watered- so check before you decide what action to take. If the plant is wilted in the shade- the same advice applies- check it before you add more water!
It’s hot out there!!!!
If you notice powdery mildew on your plants-you may be over watering them-or watering too late in the evening-or they may be too thick and need dividing or be in too much shade—or a combination of these problems. Powdery mildew is hard to manage for that season once it has gotten out of hand- so attend to this right away to prevent it from causing too much damage. If you have some of the old RTU Rose Defense spray with that– and correct what caused the problem. If you need to buy something – choose Eco Smart Organic Garden Fungicide- a new product.