Summer Garden Temperatures Have Arrived!

Summer temperatures have arrived and the warm season crops like sweet potatoes, okra, periwinkle and many of the tropical plants are loving it and putting on a burst of growth. These warm, even hot temperatures can be a little more challenging for the non tropical humans and plants. Some areas of the state have enjoyed some June tropical rains with these higher temperatures while others have missed out on the rains. Your plants will dry out much quicker and more often as these temperatures rise and as the hot wind blows. We see hot air blowers in restrooms to dry our hands; this is the same dehydration effect many of our plants experience as the hot dry summer winds blow across their exposed leaves, stems and the soil they call home. You can reduce this water evaporation from the soil by mulching the soil with a good layer of bark, hulls or straw mulch. Watering is the most important summer gardening practice and can be a life or death issue for new plantings or plants that are especially thirsty or heavy drinkers. Watch your vegetables and flowers for signs of heat or water stress that are cries for human help, like wilting foliage or a pale tone of grayish green instead of the usual more intense green that plant usually exhibits. Most new or thirsty plants need the equivalent of one to two inches of rainfall per week in our hot Oklahoma weather. If your trees, shrubs and flowers are not getting this regular dose of water from natural rain they need you to help out with hand watering, overhead sprinklers, soaker hoses or drip irrigation to provide their life saving water needs.

You can still plant most all container grown annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees as long as you are prepared to provide regular watering for these new plantings. I have spent the better part of the last two weekends and many late evenings the last several weeks preparing and planting several new flowerbeds. A little over two months of the growing season are gone but we still have over four and a half months to enjoy before the normal November freeze wraps up the season. There is still a great selection at most of our local nurseries and garden centers and since the crowds have thinned out you can often get more personal attention and garden counseling or advice to help you select the best plant material for your soil type, light exposure and growing style. With camera phones so common, take a picture or pictures of the area you are planting and your nurseryman can help you make the best selection for your garden spot. If you see something you like at a local park or while visiting friends, take a picture or two and show that to your local nurseryman for help and advice.

With the warmer temperatures, we are starting to see a lot more pest issues. If you have a specific disease or insect problem, get a picture or grab a sample and take it in a paper bag or bottle with breathing holes to your nurseryman to diagnose and suggest several remedies to address the problem. Our fungus or disease problems usually go away as the weather gets drier and the insect problems can explode as we get hotter. We have had enough rain this year that the weeds, like most of our desired plants, are growing well this year. The best control is hand pulling and then mulching to reduce future weed problems. You can also help control weeds by hoeing but have to be careful not to hoe the good guys along with the weeds. There are some pre and some post emergent weed killers you can use in vegetable and flower beds but you must read and follow the label directions to make sure you don’t also kill your good plants. A farm friend recently told me that weeds are a lot like sin. They can look really good at first but soon they have taken over everything else in your garden or life. May your garden and life be beautiful and bountiful and your weeds be few.

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