Gardeners are picking their first home grown tomatoes, the hydrangeas and daylilies are blooming and most of our color annuals are bursting into full flower.  It looks like summer has arrived not only on the calendar but in real life.  We appear to have left the rainy cycle and moved into the heat of summer.  Our gardening issues can and will change from battling fungus and diseases and poor drainage or standing water to needing to water and battling insects.

The erratic and wet weather has left many of our greenhouses and garden centers with more choices and supplies than normal for the end of June.  Please consider planting those flowerbeds you had not planted yet or add some new container gardens.  You can still plant successfully as long as you are ready to water the new plantings.  We have been spoiled by the wet, moist weather this spring and have rarely had to water so for this year.  That is changing quickly with the hotter dry weather and you need to be prepared to start watering your plantings when they dry out.  Depending on your soil type, how well established your plants are and whether the soil is mulched or not mulched you may need to water once a week without rain or two or three times per week.  Feel the soil for moisture and watch your plants for wilting or even a graying of the usual green intensity of the plant foliage that can signal your plants are thirsty and need water.

It is always better to soak or water thoroughly when you do water than to squirt or just spray the foliage and top of the ground with water.  You can water personally as you observe and enjoy your garden with a water hose, set up an overhead water sprinkler, install a drip irrigation system or install an automatic sprinkler system.  All these watering techniques work and each has their strengths and limits.  The important thing is to select a watering style and to remember to water your plantings as we get hot and dry.  Plant’s can’t get up and turn on the faucet on their own, they need your help!

You can significantly reduce your watering by mulching the top of the soil surface with two or more inches of a bark or hull mulch.  Mulching will often reduce watering by half or more.  You can add a top cover of cedar, cypress, fir or pine bark.  You can mulch with cottonseed hulls, pine straw, cocoa hulls, pecan hulls or well aged compost.  All these natural mulches will reduce watering; keep the soil slightly cooler and plants happier in the summer heat while dramatically reducing weed pressure.  Over time the mulches will compost and add more humus or organic matter to your soil and improve the soil quality.

Roses are really blooming now but remember on roses and many other ever blooming plants you will get more flowers if you prune off the old flowers when they are done blooming.  This deadheading diverts the plant energy to more flowers rather than to developing seed pods.  This is a pretty season in our yards and garden as many of our plants celebrate the long days and bright light and are putting on a show.  Take time to get out and enjoy your garden as you water or just for fun and relaxation.


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