Water and mulch time

Tomorrow will be the longest day of the year as we enjoy the summer solstice and the official start of summer. Temperatures flirting near 100°this last week have already introduced us to the summer season.

Watering is the most important garden activity of summer and can make the difference in how much vegetables and flowers you produce or taken to the extreme can be the difference between life and death for your plants. Your plants are not particular about whether they get the water from rain, overhead sprinklers, the water hose or drip irrigation. Plants just know they need water to grow and support the life processes of photosynthesis. The more light that is available the more water the plant can use to keep their “leaf factories” operating at full capacity. The irony for Oklahoma gardeners is that we enjoy the brightest natural light for the most hours each day at this time of year and have the least rainfall or water to go with all that light. Being diligent with your watering and not over stressing your plants through drought can pay big dividends in plant growth and yield. If you have not mulched the tops of your flowerbeds with a 1” to 2” layer of hulls or bark mulch, please consider this natural “comforter” for your flowers to reduce watering, weeding and to keep the soil temperature cool. If you have not experimented with drip irrigation yet, this is a great season to install some and get comfortable with this water saving concept that also produces even better crops.

You can plant most all container grown trees, shrubs, annual and perennial flowers all through the summer as long as you are committed to get them regular watering as needed. Remember the new plantings will require more water , more often until they are rooted into their new environment and their roots get deeper in the soil to access the more consistent water at deeper depths.

Not only do the plants grow faster with light and water at this time of year but so do the insects. They have more sex, more often, produce more eggs and more little bugs in much quicker cycles with the hot weather. These quicker generations with many more, sometimes thousands more insects per generation can make it seem like they are exploding in population. Most insects love this time of year and are in a party mood ready to hit the plant world smorgasbord, often on the veggies or plants you love the most.

Be on the lookout for scale on euonymus, bagworms on junipers, aphids, whiteflies, mealy bugs, thrips, leafminers and red spider mites on many of our soft tissue plants. Worms of many types are attacking the veggies and watch for webworms in your trees.   There are a number of good chemical and organic methods to help control these pests if they start to take more of your crop than you want to share. Take a sample of your pest or disease problem to your local nurseryman or garden center and they can help you select the proper product to solve your problem.



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