Garden Monthly Update: August 2015

Garden News

The first week of August started out very hot and overall temperatures ran above average all month, but we did get a few rain showers that are always welcome in the garden. All of the sunflowers finished blooming and were harvested. The okra and eggplant continued to do well with continuous production. Many cantaloupe were harvested from seeds planted in June. Some of the chili pepper plants struggled and a couple did not make it, but they had produced for many years and I will start new plants to replace them. All pots and planting areas for August were re-composted and re-mulched.  I planted seeds for melon, zucchini, lettuce, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green onions, snap beans and marigolds. The zucchini and melon planted from seed just 2 weeks ago are already 6" high and doing well. The cabbage and Kale seeds sprouted in just a few days and even the carrots and green onions are beginning to sprout after just 5 days from planting the seeds. The 2nd set of Armenian cucumber vines planted in July are beginning to produce. We have 1 mystery vine that volunteered from the compost back in May that now has started to produce. Originally, I thought it was a cucumber, but turns out it is some type of melon, possibly watermelon.

 

We are entering into the most productive garden season for Arizona, so get planting!

 

Planting guide updates include - Natural/organic fertilizers and garden pests and their foe.

Highlights

- The okra and eggplant really took off and started producing consistently. Harvested 8 cantaloupe's and 4 large Armenian cucumbers over the month.

- The 2nd set of sunflowers bloomed and seeds harvested.

- The tomatillo is doing well and flowering again.

- Lots of red wigglers, praying mantis, baby lizards and gecko's about the garden.

Lolights

- Several Locust had to be removed from the garden.

- The herbs started suffering the effects of several months of hot weather, but this is the normal cycle and as the nights and days get cooler in September, they will revive.

- The very hot days from 8/13 - 8/17, took its toll on the garden when there are consecutive high temp days. A few pepper plants did not make it and will need to be replaced.

"Hot" Topic

Provide shade to new transplants. Keep seeds moist for proper germination. Make sure water penetrates 6" into soil each time you water. Keep soil/roots cool with 2 - 4 inches of mulch.

Tip of the Month

Grow short season tomatoes like Early Girl, Roma, Celebrity or Pearson varieties. Keep the soil moisture consistent and fertilize with fish emulsion every 2 weeks. Do not plant with fennel, peppers or eggplant. Rotate tomato placement every year to keep soil healthy.

 

Peppers also need consistent moist soil and afternoon shade is necessary. Apply fish emulsion every 2 weeks and occasional blood meal also works well. Peppers will grow through the winter if protected from frost. I grow most of my peppers in pots, but I do have a couple locations with shade and frost protection that they also do well. Plant with sage and tarragon.

 

Use chicken manure in your soil mixture when growing carrots as steer manure will produce very hairy carrots

September Do List

1. Fertilize all planting areas, especially peppers and tomatoes.

2. Foliar fertilize with worm tea or seaweed/fish emulsion solution.

3. Remove summer flowering perennials spent flowers.

4. Prune sun or salt damaged foliage.

September Don't List

1. When fertilizing citrus, don't sprinkle the fertilizer next to the trunk, since the roots won't get the benefit there. Fertilize the outer 2/3 of the root area.

2. Hold off on transplants of broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower until after the end of September or beginning of October. The temperatures must be consistently below 100F.

3. Don't over water after transplanting trees and shrubs. Too much water can drown and rot the roots.

September Planting

Plant seed for fall vegetables:  Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Corn, Cucumbers, Endive, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Green Onions, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Turnips.

Plant seed for fall herbs: Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Lavender, Lemon Grass, Sage, Thyme.

Plant wildflower seeds from late September to early November.

Remember to keep planted seeds moist for proper germination and if using transplants, wait until daytime temperatures are below 100 degrees.

Recipe of the Month

-Marinated Zucchini Salad

 

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: Why are my cantaloupe not sweet?

A: Over-watering can dilute the sugar content as the fruit ripens. You can hold back on the watering in last week before harvesting as your melon ripens. You can also reduce the number of melons on a single vine, which may help with the sweetness. Make sure you do not pick it too early.

When a cantaloupe is ready to pick, the stem will start cracking slightly where it meets the stem base. It's overripe when it falls off completely. It's also common that you'll start smelling the distinctive musky smell of a ripe melon when you're near the patch. If you can smell cantaloupe, they're ready to pick.

Most varieties of cantaloupe will ripen within 4 weeks of appearing on the vine.

Q: What should I do with too much Basil?

A: It is good to trim back your herbs and when you do that you just need to dry them to have fresh dried herbs. You can dry them in a de-hydrator, but I just dry them naturally either indoors or putting them in the AZ sun for a day in the summer months and 2 - 3 days during the colder months will get them dry.

 

Follow-up to a question covered in the June update regarding the total planting area of my garden. A plan view of my front yard showing the garden planting areas in brown.

- Yarden layout

September Preview

Making your own compost

August Pictures

Link to Photos Here

 

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