Garden Monthly Update: May 2017

Garden News

May was the month of zucchini. I harvested no less than 10 - 12 large zucchini every week for the past 6 weeks, from my 2 plants. They have slowed down in the last week, which is actually a good thing because all our friends/neighbors are ready for something different.

The okra, chayote and jicama plants are all doing great and expect to have some okra to harvest in a couple weeks as they have begun to flower in the last week of May.

The sunflowers started blooming in mid May and they are lovely. I planted a couple tall varieties along with an elf variety. The elves are great for cut flowers as they produce a lot of stems with multiple flowers and the plants are about 2' - 3' tall.

I harvested the first armenian cucumber of the season in the last week of May. The melons are going crazy and baby melons have been spotted.

I harvested the last of the kale, cabbage and tomatoes at the end of May and replaced the spent nasturtiums with marigolds, cosmos and zinnia.

The tomatillo harvest is coming to an end, but overall, though they were not real large, I collected 4 - 5lbs of tomatillo's.

All the garlic, remaining bulb onions, and several fennel were harvested in May.

The brussel sprouts never matured to full size, so I removed the plants to make room for the sweet potato planting.


Web site updates - Separate recipe page and separate Q&A page added for easy access to all recipes and Q&A's.


May garden harvest picture - kale, cabbage, fennel, onion, garlic, zucchini, tomato, peppers, parsley, basil, oregano, sage, thyme, marjoram, marigold, nasturtium, gaillardia.



A number of assassin bugs and baby mantis have been seen in the garden!

Zucchini, Zucchini, Zucchini!


My brussel sprouts never matured to full size.

"Hot" Topic

Shade & Water -  Make sure you adjust your watering accordingly for the summer and specifically be aware in June, which is the driest month in our low desert region. Look for signs of water stress: wilting limp leaves that do not recover in cooler evening temperatures, yellow or curled leaves that drop, loss of green leaf luster, small new leaves, blossom end rot. If you see any of these signs of possible water stress, then check your soil using a soil probe and adjust your irrigation to ensure proper soil moisture to a depth of 1' for your vegetable garden. Improper watering/soil moisture (too little or too much) can lead to nutrient deficiency of your plants leading to slow growth, low production and possible death.


More on nutrient deficiency


Provide 50% shade to your tomato and pepper plants through the summer and continue to keep the soil moist. Once the temperatures drop, they will have renewed growth and start setting fruit (below 90 degrees for tomatoes). Peppers can typically be kept for 1 - 2 years, however assess the condition of your tomato plants and determine if replacing them is a better option for the fall. I pulled my tomato plants once the set fruit had ripened and will plant new transplants in August. This cuts down on maintenance of plants that are not producing during the summer and I have found that the new transplants have higher production as the plant is healthy at he beginning of the cooler weather versus a struggling plant that then needs to regain its vigor before it will set fruit.


Tip of the Month

Blossom end rot - this condition, which appears as a small water soaked lesion at the blossom end of the fruit, can affect more than tomatoes. I have seen this affect tomatoes,  peppers and squash specifically in the low desert gardens. It is caused by a calcium deficiency, which can be due to water stress from improper or irregular irrigation and sometimes by calcium available in your soil. Impacted fruit should be removed, and your soil moisture checked to ensure proper moisture to 1'. If your soil moisture seems to be appropriate, then an application of gypsum may be needed to increase soil calcium availability to the plant. Application of calcium soil or foliar fertilizers have not been proven to be effective in correcting the problem.



June Do List

1. Increase water application as the weather warms. Vegetables to 1', small-medium shrubs 2' and trees to 3' deep. Use a soil probe (long thin metal device like a long screw driver) to check water depth (probe should easily penetrate in moist soil and stop at dry soil).

2. Water trees (special attention to deciduous) deep (down to 3ft) and every 7 - 14 days.

3. Apply mulch to keep roots cool and reduce evaporation.

4. Place shade cloth (no more than 50%) over tomatoes to keep out leaf hoppers.

5. Cover fruit trees with mosquito cloth to protect from birds.


June Don't List

1. Do not expose citrus and other sun sensitive plants to sunburn by pruning during the summer.



June Planting

Vegetables: (Blue font identifies "ideal" planting time items)

Seeds - armenian cucumbers

Transplants - sweet potato


Herbs: Basil


Flowers: Celosia (wool flowers), Cosmos, Hollyhock, Four O'clock's, Purslane, Sunflower, Vinca, Zinnia


Fruit:  Cantaloupe

            - Transplants: all sub-tropical


Recipe of the Month

-   Zucchini Pasta Primavera

 -  This was a great find in a time of need. I had so much zucchini from the garden and this recipe turned out to be a winner for us.      Tasty and timely!


Grow sweet potatoes: This sun-loving vine is gorgeous and is a abundant producer. I like sweet potatoes, but I love this beautiful vine in the garden. The hot summer is a difficult time to grow anything, but sweet potatoes like the heat, so it can be a welcome addition to your garden even if you do not like sweet potatoes as you do not have to harvest them if you do not want, or you can harvest and donate to a local food pantry. If this vine is just left to grow, with restriction of tuber growth and when the daylight hours are less than 11 hours, it may eventually produce spectacular flowers.

You need a well draining, medium texture soil with a pH 4.5 - 7.0 for best results.

You will need to make sure you clean out all of the tubers when you harvest, or you may have volunteers come up later.

Sweet potatoes are propagated by root or stem cuttings, or by adventitious shoots called "slips" that grow out of the tuberous roots during storage.

More info:


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

Web Sites:



Q: How can I manage aphids in my garden?

A: The best way to control the bad bugs (those that feed on plants) is by having enough good bugs (those that eat other bugs), and natural predators like gecko's, lizards and toads in the garden. This is not always a simple task, but you can buy praying mantis egg pouches and lady bugs from local nurseries. You need to get them at the beginning of the spring season and if possible it is best to get lady bug larvae (before they have wings), as they can not just fly away to another yard. In order to be able to keep them in your garden, they need to have an ample food supply and the right habitat. If you are spraying the outside of your home and yard with pesticides, then the predators will not have the food supply needed and will travel to the yard that does. Simply spraying with water or soapy water is not always a very effective remedy for aphids, especially if not caught early. So, in my excel planting guide take a look at the insect control recipe's sheet for other natural sprays that can be used to manage aphids, but keep in mind that you may also kill good bugs with any of these methods. Some beneficial bugs that can help out in the garden are: praying mantis, lady beetles, assassin bugs, green lacewings, parasitic wasps.

Keep ants under control and away from the honeydew that is secreted as a result of aphid feeding, as they will protect their food source and ward off the predators.


More info:

Did you know! (New)

Every state/county, have university supported extension offices that can provide help with your garden questions. You can typically email or call in your questions to the local office and a team of educational experts and master gardener volunteers will provide the best answers possible using educational research based information.

If you are searching online for some information and would like to get good educational research based information, then follow your search topic with *edu (ex. Controlling aphids*edu). This will bring up educational publications that are research based for your topic.


AZ Maricopa County

Org. Name:Maricopa County Extension





Find your local office:

Info on cooperative extension system:

May Pictures

Link to Photos Here


Related Topics