With all the crazy weather we had in June, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen this month. I must admit that tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and beans did extraordinarily well. And, despite the presence of the squash vine borer, unaffected squash produced substantially.
Predictions can be wrong
As for July, the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts thunderstorms throughout the month, with the average rainfall four inches above average. The Almanac also predicts temperatures about 2 degrees below average and warns of a possible hurricane July 23-26.
Accuweather also predicts lower than average daytime temperatures, higher than average nighttime temperatures, and thunderstorms at the end of the month.
What to plant now
There are some options about what to plant (or not plant) during July. It’s not too late to plant okra and Southern peas (blackeyes, purple hulls, zipper cream, and crowders). Water your plants at least twice a week. The idea is to keep the soil moist, not muddy. Most herbs that we raise here originated in the Mediterranean, and therefore need less water than other crops. Take this into account when irrigating.
On the other hand, some gardeners prefer to let their beds go fallow during the summer, amending the soil, and preparing it for fall crops. If you plan to do this, add mulch (pine straw, straw, etc.) over the beds to keep down weeds and preserve moisture.
Don’t bag you clippings
According to Texas AgriLife Extension Horticulturist Mike Potter, don’t bag your grass clippings. Instead, use a mulching lawnmower to return the clipped blades back into the soil, decomposing quickly. Some people worry that mulching clippings add to thatch. The fact is that well-cared-for St. Augustine does not need to be de-thatched. Thatching is caused by over-fertilizing and over-watering, not mulching.
Flowers and ornamentals
If your spring beds are looking a little shabby, remove the old plants and lay in some compost. Texas Gardener magazine recommends adding some heat-loving plants like salvia, Mexican bush sage, and mountain sage. Bright-colored cannas and celosia are also attractive, as are some nice foliage plants like caladiums, St. Joseph’s Coat and copper plants.
Flowering plants that are looking down in the dumps can be reinvigorated by shearing them back about one third. You might also look at Texas Superstars as replacement plants. This interactive site will allow you to choose a wide variety of plants that do well in our area.
Also, while taking care of your plants, remember to take care of yourself during these warmer months. That means keeping cool, drinking plenty of fluids, and resting periodically.