I'm Melting, Melting....
Lately when I am in the garden, those immortal words said by the Wicked Witch of the West come to mind, but not because someone has thrown water on me. Quite the contrary, I wish someone would throw a bucket of water on me. The heat and humidity definitely get to me these summer days. Pity poor Europe and Britain where they do not have the luxury of our air conditioning to escape into.
Here are a few things to watch for in your gardens during this steamy time of the year –
Irrigation – For heavens sake, if we get one of those afternoon thunderstorms, turn off your irrigation. More plants are killed from too much water than too little. Rain water is much better for your plants than county water with its chemical treatment, but too much of a good thing is just too much of a good thing. Root rot and fungal diseases are very real problems right now. If you do need to irrigate, remember that early in the morning is the best time – before the sun heats up the soil. If you water at night, moisture can cause some disease issues and if you water in the heat of the day, most of the water evaporates before the plant is able to take it up from the roots.
Mulch - Mulching is always helpful any time of the year. I have been using mushroom compost as a mulch. It helps enrich the soil as the nutrients leach down, it keeps weed growth down, and it helps to keep the soil cooler.
Weeds - Weeds love hot and moist conditions. The worst weed you will see now is Chamberbitter. This innocuous looking little weed has hundred of seeds under its stems and can grow to six feet tall. It spreads like crazy, but fortunately can be easily pulled out when young. Dog fennel grows well here and looks like a small fluffy tree. Various spurges will try to take over your garden beds as well. Pull, pull, and pull. Do not compost these unless your yard waste goes to a professional composter where the temperature is so high that weed seeds will be killed.
Sad Plants—Some of your plants may look sad right now. It is fine to cut them back. I have cut my Geraniums (Pelargoniums) way back and put them in the shade. When the weather gets cooler, they will come back. I have also cut down some Salvias that look tatty. It will not hurt plants to have a mid summer hair cut.
Fertilizer – With all the rain we have been getting, you may need to fertilize. I try not to and opt to just depend upon compost for nutrients. Container plants will definitely need a slow release fertilizer. Do not use a liquid as it will just wash away.
Granular is better to use.
These are just a few tips to help you get through these drippy, three t shirt, two shower days.