Garden Monthly Update: June 2015

Garden News

June saw the temperatures rise and with that some things in the garden start slowing down a bit. The last of the Tomatoes, Cabbage, Onions, Shallots and Pumpkins were harvested. The Kale continues to be okay, but cut down to only 1 plant by the end of June to get ready for new planting in August. The Okra took off with the warm weather and seeds planted in May are already producing. The Zucchini slowed down, but as temperatures are now starting to go down a few degrees, it is once again starting to produce more. The Swiss Chard has slowed down and it will probably be a few more weeks before it really takes off again. The Eggplant really likes the warm weather, and mine get afternoon shade, so continue to produce. I had the first Sweet Potato harvest from a transplant that was started in a pot in April. This was early for Sweet Potato planting, but James had them in the pot before I knew it had been done. Anyway we got a decent amount and then I took some transplants from this and put them  in a couple new areas in the garden. This was the inspiration for this months recipe and hope to get a second harvest with the new transplants. I continued to cut and dry herbs in June (Basil, Oregano, Tarragon, Marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme). The Basil really took off in June, but I did have to cover some of it to protect it from getting burned. I have found that Basil grows best on the East side of the house where it gets shade all afternoon. The Thai Basil loves the heat and is not as prone to getting burned. I transplanted some Baby Leeks to the east side of the house and so far they are hanging in there, so we will see how it goes. I have new Armenian Cucumber plants sprouting in the past couple weeks so hope that these will take hold and produce well. I continued to plant more Sunflowers through June in different areas and all are doing well and providing lots of bee food and some shade for sensitive plants. The melons are just now starting to produce as they also like the heat. I have a few Tomato plants that are hanging in there with some shade provided, so hoping that with cooler temps coming soon, these will be ready to produce once temperatures are below 90 degrees.

Garden Harvest Photo: Lacinto Kale, Tarragon, Thyme, Sage, Savory, Chives, Garlic chives, Sweet Basil, Thai Basil, Purple Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Mint, Pumpkin, Zucchini, Sweet Potato, Garlic, Yellow Onion, Red Onion, Shallot,  Anaheim, Banana, Serrano and Ancho chili peppers, Purple Carrot, Red Vine Tomatoes, Regular and Burgundy Okra, Fairytale Eggplant, and Sunflower seeds.

Highlights

- I have my first gourd starting and hope that it makes it! I was surprised to see that this plant does pretty well in the extreme heat.

- The pumpkin plant produced more than I expected, but the lower temperature in May helped as well as choosing a small size variety.

- The first Sunflower seeds were harvested. Less than a month from planting to harvest.

- I was still harvesting red vine tomatoes in June, though they were smaller, I have not had to buy any tomatoes yet.

- We did not have any tomato hornworms this year, that tend to show up on the pepper plants.

- A lot of praying mantis were spotted in the garden along with many baby lizards, so this will help keep the bad bugs at bay.

Lolights

- My onions did not get very big this year. Not sure if this was due to the warm winter or higher temperature in April or lower temps in May this year.

"Hot" Topic

In these hot months your plants will become stressed. Make sure you give them some good natural fertilizer like fish emulsion, liquid seaweed, and or worm tea every couple weeks. I also replenish with our homemade compost as needed.

Tip of the Month

- You can keep the roots cooler by watering deeply. If you insert a pipe or in my case I recycled a large yogurt container and just cut holes in the bottom.  I water into the container so that the watering is deeper into the ground which will force the roots deeper and in turn will keep them cooler. This is recommended for melons, squash, gourds and cucumbers as they do not like to get direct watering.

July Don't List

1. Don't prune citrus or other sun sensitive plants during the summer

2. Don't over water. Water slowly, deeply and let the soil dry between watering.

3. Don't shade corn, squash, melons.

4. Don't add fertilizer to dry soil. Always water first, then apply fertilizers to moist soils, and then continue with the rest of the water.

July Planting

Plant bush beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumber, pepper transplants, pumpkin, winter squash, tomato. They will produce in the fall. Shade your young plants.

Recipe of the Month

Sweet Potato Bites with  Garlic Dipping Sauce

- Sweet Potato Bite     - Garlic Dipping Sauce

Favorites

Garden Books: Extreme Gardening by Dave Owens and Desert Gardening for Beginners by Cathy Cromell, Linda Guy and Lucy Bradley.

Web Sites:

 

Questions/Answers

Q: How much garden area do you have planted?

A: About 10 years ago I decided that I would start replacing any non-editable plants in my front and backyard with editable plants. I managed to do this in about 3 years, so today I can say that almost everything we have in our yard is editable either by us or by our desert tortoises and bearded dragon. I am distinct about this as the turtles do require a small area of Bermuda grass and prickly pear cactus as well as they like morning glory and the flowers from the trumpet vine. The bearded dragon also likes the purple flowers from the Texas sage shrub, so we do have 2 of those as well. So, basically my yard had already been designed with planting areas for trees, shrubs and ground covers, so for the conversion I removed all non-edibles from these areas and turned them into edible planting areas, namely for vegetables and vine fruits, but we do have a grapefruit tree, several pomegranates, heat tolerant cherry tree, a new grape vine as well as banana trees. I did expand this a bit by adding some raised bed areas along the east side of the house and along the edge of the front walkway and 2 years ago we put in a display planting bed at the very front of our yard where neighbors could see what could be grown. This does mean that all areas other than the fruit trees and the herb planting areas are changing as needed and it is a lot of work. The good thing is that the neighbors are very supportive and really like seeing what is new in the yarden (as we refer to it now). I also have some things in pots, mostly pepper and eggplant and a few herbs. I am lucky that James can throw nice large ceramic planting pots for me when I need them and as some may know we have our own ceramic studio with kiln. This also allows me to find the best locations for specific plants, which can be a challenge for those of you that may only have a single location for your garden plants.

Q: How to control pests in the garden? This came from someone whose sunflowers were devastated by aphids the previous year and impacted other plants in their garden.

A: I have added pest control sections to the planting guide to help with your specific pests. I have also added companion plant information as comments on the main planting guide page first column. As for aphids, there are some companion plants that will deter them (basil, chives, cilantro, garlic, lavender, marigolds, mint, onions, nasturtiums, parsley, petunias, radish, tansy, thyme). You can spray your plant leaves on the underside with mild soapy water or just a spray of water may remove them. There are several good bugs to have in the garden like ladybugs, lacewings and praying mantis. Sometimes I will just simply rub off the aphids with my gloved hands to remove them if needed. We do not do any un-natural pest control, so it is important to attract and maintain the "good bugs" and of course other helpful predators like bats, lizards, geckos and birds.

Q: How can I remove pests from my fresh produce?

A: I, for as long as I can remember, wash all of my fruits and vegetables in approximate 1:5 solution of distilled white vinegar and water. You can do this right out in the garden before you bring your harvest into the house if needed. I have found this will effectively remove un-wanted pests and will not change the flavor and it can also revive them if slightly wilted. You can reuse the vinegar water in the garden as a touch of vinegar helps lower the pH.

Q: Do we ever include photos of the turtles and or dragon on the site?

A: See photos this month include a picture of Pebbles (aka turtle dog) enjoying a prickly pear pad for breakfast.

Please continue to send me your questions, comments, suggestions or additional information and I will try to address them with a personal response to you and include them in the next monthly update.

June Pictures

Link to Photos Here

 

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