Garden Monthly Update: June 2017

Garden News

June brought the dreaded sizzling temperatures and in turn the slow down of zucchini production and the final tomatillo harvest. The sweet potato slips are taking hold and the melons have gone a bit crazy with lots of melons in progress. The okra is beginning to have a steady harvest and the armenian cucumbers have stepped up their game. My eggplant is continuing to produce while the ancho and cayenne pepper plants have set their second round of fruit for the season.


The sunflowers started dying back as they do once they have bloomed. I kept some flower heads to harvest the seed for planting next year. I started some new sunflower seeds and will transplant those into the yarden once the temperatures come down a bit in July.


The jicama plants are doing great as expected, however the chayote is suffering from the very high temps, so time will tell if it will survive.


What was harvested in June - okra, armenian cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, tomatillo's, basil, sage, chives, parsley, thyme, oregano, marjoram


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




The armenian cucumbers and melon vines have really taken off.

Lots of lizards about the yarden and some babies have been spotted!



The sizzling hot temperatures in the last 2 weeks of June!


"Hot" Topic

Fruit & Nut Tree watering - Summer can really stress out the garden as well as the fruit and nut trees. Make sure that your irrigation system is set-up properly to water your trees deeply every 7 - 10 days down to 3ft. The irrigation system should be set-up along the edge or drip line of the tree's root system as water uptake is done through the end of the roots that will be located at the edge of the tree's canopy. Citrus trees, in general, require a lot of water, refer to the citrus watering guide for more information. Symptoms of too little water include, dry soil, older leafs turn yellow or brown and drop off, leaves are wilted or curled. Symptoms of too much water include, constantly damp soil, new leaves become yellow, leaves are green but brittle, algae or mushrooms are growing around the tree.



Citrus watering guide:

Tip of the Month

Choosing fruit & nut trees - there are many fruit & nut trees that grow in the low desert, but you need to choose the right variety for our climate and soil conditions. It is possible to have some kind of fruit to harvest throughout the year. Best results will be by selecting varieties that require 250 or less chill hours to set fruit (number of hours between November 1st and February 15th that are between 32 - 45 degrees F). Deciduous trees should be planted as bare root in the dormant season (January 15th - 30th), or just before bud break. Citrus trees should be planted after threat of frost has passed (late February or March). Selecting trees that have been grafted locally and sold at a local nursery is recommended. Ensure you are planting the tree in the best location with enough space and well draining soil. There are many dwarf varieties if space is limited. I have a dwarf garden prince almond tree that is only about 8ft tall, but perfect for a small yard. See resources below for more information on types and varieties that do best on the low desert as well as planting and caring for your trees.



July Do List

1. Check for proper irrigation. 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 tomato & pepper plants.

5. Apply chelated iron to plants that exhibit an iron deficiency/chlorosis.


July Don't List

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



July Planting

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

Seeds - beans (pinto & snap), corn, armenian cucumbers, cucumbers, melons (cantaloupe & musk), pumpkin, winter squash

Transplants - tomato, peppers


Herbs: None for July


Flowers: Cosmos, Hollyhock, Purslane, Sunflower, Vinca, Zinnia


Fruit:  Cantaloupe/Muskmelon

            - Transplants: all sub-tropical


Recipe of the Month

-   Dilly Cucumber Salad

 - Very quick summer salad and great made with Armenian cucumbers. Add a little extra dried dill to garnish.


Try growing armenian cucumbers: These are by far the easiest "cucumbers" to grow in the low desert. They are, however, actually part of the muskmelon family (c. melo). It looks and tastes like a cucumber and is most flavorful when harvested  at 12 - 15 inches long. These can become giants if not harvested early, growing to 2 - 3 feet and 4 - 5 inches in diameter if left on the vine. The vine can grow on the ground or trellis. The fruit is light green with a bump less scalloped thin skin that is not bitter and these are best served without skinning. They are heat loving and very productive plants. They are best planted from seed in March, June or July in the low desert. I planted mine at the end of March and started harvesting cucumbers in early June, so roughly 60 - 70 days.



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 often and when should I fertilize my fruit trees?

A: Starting with the second growing season after planting, deciduous fruit trees should be fertilized with a nitrogen fertilizer each spring. Citrus should be fertilized with a nitrogen fertilizer 3 times per year (January or February, April or March, and May or June), after it has been in the ground for 2 years. Correct fruit tree fertilization will ensure healthy foliage, promote vigor, and maximize fruit quality. See publications for more information on fertilizer selection and application rate.


More info:

Fruit trees:



Did you know! (New)

Clay soil has the most nutrients and micro-nutrients of any soil. The issue with using just clay soil for a vegetable garden, is that the clay soil is so compact/dense, that plants will struggle to grow roots and get the nutrients easily. You will need to mix 2 - 3 inches of organic material (compost, composted manure, leaf mulch) into the clay soil before planting, to create the best growing condition for your vegetable garden. The organic material should be mixed into the soil at 10 -12 inches and should be done before each planting. The organic material will break down and if you do not continue to mix in new material, the soil will return to clay only. The organic material improves soil drainage and will provide a boost of nitrogen, which is very important for your vegetable garden. So don't throw out the high nutrient clay soil, just make sure you incorporate plenty of organic material to allow good drainage, and help your plants to be able to extract the nutrients from the soil.

Before transplanting, add some alfalfa pellets to the planting hole. They contain a good amount of nitrogen and potassium with slow release, and it is a staple fertilizer used at the master gardener demo garden at the Maricopa extension office.


Home soil test:

1. Take a cup sample of soil from 6" depth in your garden.

2. Place the soil sample into a quart size jar with a tight lid and straight sides.

3. Fill the jar with water up to the shoulder of the jar and add a teaspoon of dish detergent.

4. Place the lid on tightly and shake the jar vigorously until all of the sail is broken up into solution.

5. Let the jar sit for 24 - 48 hours to allow the soil layers to settle and the water to be clear.

6. Once the layers have settled, you can measure the height of each layer to determine the percentage of sand, silt, and clay.

The ideal garden soil is what is classified as loam soil or 40% silt, 20% clay, 40% sand. See textural triangle.




10 steps to a successful vegetable garden:

Organic Fertilizer information:

Determine your type of soil:



May Pictures

Link to Photos Here


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