- David Salman
Summer 2021 Garden Care
The official start to summer this year (summer solstice) is Sunday, June 20. The heat has already arrived after a nice, mild spring season. With good fortune, the summer monsoons will kick in around the 4th of July. But with hot, dry conditions currently ruling the weather, it’s an important time to spend caring for your new transplants. The most important thing to be doing in your garden and landscape is mulching and watering. Protect precious soil moisture by shading the soil with plenty of mulch.
The Monsoon Season
Predictions for summer monsoonal rains say we’ll likely have normal to slightly below normal precipitation. However, once the rains get started, don’t assume that your plants have been adequately watered after a shower. Buy a rain gauge so you’ll know how much rain was received! Gardeners almost always overestimate how much rain fell. Unless it’s a good soaking rain event (1/2” or more), don’t skip irrigating. Continue your regular schedule of deep watering.
Regular Deep Watering is Essential
If you are watering by hose, be sure you have well-formed saucers around the base of new transplants to contain the water. When it’s time to water, fill them with water twice. Fill it, wait 5 minutes and re-fill it again. This ensures the water moisten both the plants original root ball and the surrounding soil. You should be watering every other day or every third day to keep new plants hydrated and healthy.
If your plants are on a drip system, be sure you have one (1) gallon/hour emitter just off to the side of the plant but close enough to fill the saucer. Using the same timeline as above, schedule a 20-minute watering every other day or every third-day interval. Keep your established plants on a separate schedule where they get 2 to 3 hours of irrigation once every 7 to 10 days.
How do you know when water is needed? Plants will tell you when they need water. Look for visual clues such as flagging foliage or an off-green grayish color to the leaves. Too much water will turn the foliage yellow.
Mulching is the best way to protect soil moisture from the sun and wind. And it provides cool soil temperatures that are best for root growth. I generally use Back-to-Earth Cotton Burr mulch or similar compost. When mulching your plants with compost, every time you water, some of the nutrients are absorbed by the water, making a mild compost tea which is liquid gold for new transplants.
Fill both the watering basin (depression in the soil at the base of the plants) and cover a wider circle around the plant as well. A one-inch thick layer is just right. Other suitable mulching materials include small, crushed gravel, pine needles, pecan shells (excellent for keeping dogs and cats off your flower beds) or finely shredded bark/leaves/stems (available at the city dump). Use all at the same depth of 1 inch.
A twice-monthly watering with Medina Fish Blend
Put 1-2 tablespoons of Medina Fish Blend in a gallon of water and water new transplants with the mixture. Also, get a good misting bottle and fill it with Medina/water blend and coat the leaves in early morning as the sun is just coming up. You’ll be amazed at how the plants respond. Apply every 10 to 14 days.
Pinching new transplants
Pinching is an invaluable technique for helping to stimulate root growth and create more numerous stems. This helps young plants bloom with more flowers. Typically, recent transplants (annual or perennial) and year-old perennial plants planted last year are most in need of pinching. Pinching is the simple technique of cuttings off the tips of the new growth. June is an ideal month to pinch off the new growth one of two times. When pinching new transplants or established perennials, remove several inches of new growth from the top of the growing stems.
This year the weeds are mainly found around irrigated plants. It’s been too dry for most weed seeds to germinate and grow. However, with a few soaking rains, the weeds will sprout and grow seemingly out of nowhere. Keep an eye open for summer weeds when the monsoons kick in. Goat Heads or Puncture Vine (Acanthospermum hispidum) will likely be especially bad. Pull or cut as soon as the young plants appear. Don’t wait for the horrible seeds to ripen because it will be too late to control them.
Mycorrhiza inoculant can be applied spring through fall. Our Soluble Root Zone_organic mycorrhiza formulation is best to use in early summer and applied to individual plants. When the monsoon rains kick in, then the granular can be broadcast around the base of established plants where the rain will germinate the spores.
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