A Green Thumb | The Summer Months

July 6, 2011

Sharon is back with tips to save your yard this hot, dry summer!  Remember last time she told a story about wishing her grass was as green as her neighbors?  Well, the Lord was good to bless her!  Also, Sharon will share a sweet devotional written by Charles Spurgeon.  Spurgeon’s heart is just exactly where I feel the Lord leading mine.  I know his writing will greatly bless you!

Praise God that He saw fit that I not only would I learn a lesson in humility regarding my neighbor’s grass but then to top it off, and just like the Lord, after repenting He blesses me with an email sharing that I had won a $100 gift card to Houston Garden! Thank you, Jesus. I had forgotten that I had signed up at the cash register back in March for the chance to win a $100 gift card; as I was waiting in line, I happened to notice the entry box and kind of as a joke, I thought, “Well, why not? I will not win and hopefully I will not start receiving junk garden mail, but here I go.”  Lo and behold, I actually won! I just wanted to give God the glory in this. I am so blessed by my Savior that He would see fit to surprise me with a present—and not just any present, but FREE PLANTS!

A note about the drought: If you haven’t already guessed it, we are in an extreme drought. We have had the driest winter, spring, and summer on record so far. What normally happens is we get our good spring rains to prepare our landscapes for our blasting, hellish-heat in the summer. However, we did not have these so we are left to the mercy of running our own sprinklers (bye-bye water bill). With that said, make sure you are watering three times a week for at least 30 mins. -1:00 (for large portions of grass) and three times a week for at least 15-30 mins. (for raised beds). Our raised beds and grasses here in Texas need good, deep watering so watering just three times a week for 10 minutes is not going to cut it. The roots need time to soak up the water. And only water between 1-6 a.m. If you water between 7-10 p.m., you attract disease—which is no good. And if you water between 3-7 p.m. during the day, most of the water is evaporated due to wind and sun. You need a good inch of rain or a little more each week during this drought.

Early Summer To Do List

In your yard:

  • Time to do your summer application of Nitro-Phos Super-Turf Fertilizer (15-5-10) or 3-1-2/4-1-2 controlled release fertilizer of your choosing.
  • Be on the look out for cinch bug (tiny black bugs with white wings) damage to your yards. Look around the turf nearest to the sidewalk and driveways. The best line of defense is good watering practices (since they hate moisture), following the fertilization schedule, and mowing tall. Best method of attack if you sense a problem is to apply Permethrin, Cypermethrin, or Bifenthrin every 7 days, up to 3 applications.
  • Ants a problem? Make your own ant killer with a blend of garlic, liquid dish-soap, hot peppers, and water; strain and pour over the mound. “Hasta la vista, baby!”
  • Consider night lighting your yard to add light for outdoor, nighttime fun!

With your plants & flowers:

  • This is a good time to walk your yard and make notes of what is working and not working with all this heat. Is there a plant getting too much sun or too little (like roses need at least 6-8 hours or sun to bloom)? Plus, some plants might be overgrowing their bounds.
  • Plant a Hibiscus. They love heat, but not in afternoon, late day sun. They perform better in morning to early afternoon sun. Enjoy all the colors and textures. I personally like the double-blooming ones. You can special order these. They will freeze if your Hibiscus is not a Hardy Hibiscus, so if you want to still have it for next year, don’t forget to cover it up when temperatures fall.
  • Feed tropical plants like Hibiscus and Bougainvilleas with tropical plant foods, but not bloom-boosters, which have too much phosphorous (or high middle number). You can feed them Nutri-Star food specifically formulated for Hibiscus and Bougainvilleas. They are slow-release fertilizers as opposed to liquid fertilizers such as Miracle Grow.
  • Keep your azaleas well-watered, especially in this drought. They are setting blooms for next year. But don’t over-water.
  • Plant some heat-loving annuals such as coleus (pinch the flowers off that pop up), cosmos, mistflowers, pentas, zinnias, or vincas.
  • If your plants are looking yellow (especially with green veins on the leaves but yellow tissue), then you should put out some iron/soil acidifier supplements. You can get these almost anywhere.
  • Hit insect-infested plants with a strong spray of water under the leaves early in the morning.
  • Sprinkle earth worms on beds and lawns. They do wonders.
  • You can re-apply your shredded wood mulches to help retain moisture and cut down on weeds.

In your vegetable garden:

  • Pick your okra quite often. The bigger they get the harder they are to eat.
  • Put a bird bath near tomatoes to distract the birds looking for water from your tomatoes. Or you can hang red coke cans on your stalks like my mom used to do. Pick the tomatoes at first pink blush and set them in the window to ripe.

I read the following a few weeks ago from Morning & Evening by Charles Spurgeon. If you don’t currently subscribe to a free Blue Letter Bible devotional, such as Mr. Spurgeon’s classic Morning & Evening, then you are missing out. Check out what the Lord showed to Spurgeon that touched my heart! Enjoy.

Evening Reading

 I am come into my garden, my

sister, my spouse.

 —Song 5:1

The heart of the believer is Christ’s garden. He bought it with His precious blood, and He enters it and claims it as His own. A garden implies separation. It is not the open common; it is not a wilderness; it is walled around, or hedged in. Would that we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear Christians saying, “Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that,” thus getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in that soul which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity. A garden is a place of beauty, it far surpasses the wild uncultivated lands. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christ’s garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor compared with Christ’s deservings; let us not put Him off with withering and dwarf plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses ought to bloom in the place which Jesus calls His own. The garden is a place of growth. The saints are not to remain undeveloped, always mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the Husbandman, and the Holy Spirit the dew from above. A garden is a place of retirement. So the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our souls as a place in which He can manifest Himself, as He doth not unto the world. O that Christians were more retired, that they kept their hearts more closely shut up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving, so that we have not the room for Christ that Mary had, and do not sit at His feet as we should. The Lord grant the sweet showers of His grace to water His garden this day.

Mid-summer To Do List

In your yard:

  • Have you ever seen those fairy-ring mushrooms pop up in your yard after a rain (LOL…not lately, though), then rest assured. Those are signs of good organic matter in your soil.
  • Drink lots of water yourself when working out in the yard!

With your plants & flowers:

  • Mist plants in the morning. They try to go dormant with all the heat and will wilt in the evenings, which is normal. They will perk back up when temps drop.
  • Roses can be pruned lightly to keep them productive and vibrant during hotter summer months.
  • Watch for signs of lacebug damage on azaleas, indicated by a mottled, washed out leaf. Treat with systemic insecticides like Acephate, Merit, or Disyston. Also, do at least one application of liquid insecticide, like Bifenthrin, on the undersides of the leaves.
  • Check your azaleas, hydrangeas, and magnolias for pale leaves due to too-alkaline soil. Use soil acidifiers and/or mulch with oak leaves and pine needles.
  • Don’t over water azaleas and camellias. Some wilting is normal at this time.
  • You can try to extend the blooming season of Crape Myrtles by pruning off the expiring bloom heads. This can encourage a new– albeit somewhat smaller—flush of blooms.
  • “Dead-Head” or pinch off non-budded branches or old-budded flowers on annuals and perennials to encourage bushier growth and more blooms.
  • Divide crowded perennials like summer phlox or day lilies.
  • Try rosemary and wormwood to deter snails; catnip, chamomile and wax myrtle for fleas.
  • Don’t water bulbs with no greenery showing. They are dormant, and you will cause them to rot.
  • Cut utility bills with vines on a trellis to shade the west side of your house! Try black-eyed Susan vine, coral vine, mandevilla, Mexican flame vine, passion vine, or trumpetvine.

To your trees:

  • Hold off on any major pruning of larger trees and shrubs. December through March is considered the best time to perform major pruning or even planting of trees and shrubs for that matter. Light pruning of hedge shrubs is acceptable.
  • Keep pecan trees well watered to protect developing pecans.
  • Open tent caterpillar webs in trees. Birds will eat the worms. Worms won’t kill healthy trees.

Lastly, I thought I would share a good article from Kathy Huber, writer and Houston Chronicle contributor to the gardening section. Currently, we are trying to save our only Bradford pear tree in our yard that is dying due to the heat. I am praying for the tree and hopefully it will not die, but if it does, then the Lord has something better for us in store, like maybe an Aristocrat Pear tree. LOL. Alas, I am not looking forward to removing a huge tree. Anyways, this is a link to a good recent article on trees and drought.

Late Summer To Do List

In your yard:

  • Start thinking about building a compost pile. This will accommodate all your fall leaves and grass clippings during the fall.
  • This is a good time to control nutgrass/nutsedge with a selective herbicide called Mange. I know why they call them “nutgrass.” They drive me nuts!
  • If Brownpatch was a problem in your turf last year, be prepared to start a monthly treatment of systemic fungicides as early as August.
  • If you missed your early summer lawn fertilization, please don’t do it this late because it’s too HOT, like 100+ degrees. However, you can add iron supplement if there is a general yellowing to the grass because of all the irrigation.

With your plants & flowers:

  • Give perennials, annuals, and roses and fall-blooming shrubs a light feeding and slight haircut.
  • Work ½ cup of Epsom salt around roses, hibiscus and other bloomers for more flowers.
  • Watch for hummingbirds and keep the feeders clean every 3-5 days.

To your trees:

  • Consider (I know I am) deep-watering of your established trees.
  • Prune deadwood from trees. Hurricane season is upon us!

In your vegetable garden:

  • Set out fall tomatoes (plants), green onions, cucumbers, corn and green beans.

Finally, remember to just take a break and enjoy your garden, but definitely early morning or late evenings due to extreme heat!

What a blessing to have an experienced gardener help those of us just beginning our gardening journeys figure out what we should be doing!  If you have any questions for Sharon or if you have any suggestions yourself, please comment!  How strange is it that the next time we hear from Sharon it will be autumn!


One Response to “A Green Thumb | The Summer Months”

  1. Lashunda said

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