Garden Monthly Update: July 2017

Garden News

The July monsoon brought some much appreciated rain for the garden. The lower temperatures allowed some recovery for the cucumber, melon and peppers plants that had all gone a bit dormant mid-month, but started re-leafing and setting fruit again by the end of the month. I did a bit of cleaning/trimming of the old/dying sections of the pepper and cucumber plants to invigorate some new growth.

Our flame seedless grape vine did great this year and even after doing some fruit thinning, it still produced about 10lbs of sweet fruit. I harvested a few cantaloupes and half a dozen muskmelons in July. The armenian cucumbers halted production in mid-July after the last few fruits were harvested early in the month. Early July concluded the second pepper harvest for the season. The plants started recovering at the end of the month, so expect to get another round of peppers before the colder weather arrives.

A few new giant sunflowers started blooming in July, which made the bees very happy. The gaillardia and cosmos flowers continued to bloom and this year I let the oregano bloom, which the bees really like.

The jicama plant continued to thrive and the sweet potato vine has really taken off in July. The okra plants love the heat and continue to provide a steady supply.

I did some trimming and fruit thinning on the pomegranates, which can start getting a bit over zealous with plant growth in the summer months.


What was harvested in July - okra, armenian cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, melon's, grapes, basil.


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




The okra continues to produce a steady supply.

The sweet potato vine is doing great!

The armenian cucumber and melon plants are once again flowering and setting fruit!

The sweet and chili pepper plants have begun to re-leaf and flower.



The chayote and zucchini plants did not survive the heat….very sad!

Return of the hornworms!

"Hot" Topic

Fall planting preparation - now that we are starting the downward trend in temperatures, it is time to start planning and getting ready for the late summer/fall planting season.

This means the soil needs to be revved up by adding a good amount (2" - 3" layer) of organic matter by way of compost that you can mix with some worm castings, composted manure and or a few coffee grounds (if not already added to your compost). This will get the nitrogen replenished back into the garden. You should mix your soil amendment into the soil down 6" - 12" and then put an additional 1" - 2" on top when you are ready to plant your seeds or transplants. If you are using transplants, you can help give them a boost by mixing in a bit of fertilizer (alfalfa pellets, vegetable garden fertilizer mixture) into the bottom of your transplant hole.


See more garden soil preparation:

Tip of the Month

Trimming your herbs - Be patient and delay trimming back the dead areas of your herbs until the temperatures are lower. Right now the oregano, marjoram, chives, sage, mint and others are looking a bit worse for wear from those hot temperatures. It is best to wait until temperatures are lower before trimming out the dead material. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you start seeing some new growth and or it is time to start planting that variety again.

August Do List

1. Check for proper irrigation. Over-watering can cause root rot and fungal disease.

2. Prepare your soil for fall vegetable planting.

3. Continue to shade (no more than 50%) tomato & pepper plants.

4. Plant wildflower seed.

5. Late summer nitrogen fertilizer application for navel oranges & tangerines to help fruit sizing.

6. Apply a nitrogen & zinc fertilizer to pecan trees to produce good leaf growth.


August Don't List

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

August Planting

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

• Seeds - beans (pinto & snap), corn, cucumbers, summer squash

• Transplants - tomato


Note:  The planting guide lists many additional vegetables that can be planted in August, but these are all best grown in cooler weather, so hold off planting these until the temperatures drop and it is the "ideal" time to plant for best results.


• Herbs: Lemon grass


• Flowers: Cosmos, Dianthus (carnation, sweet william), Hollyhock, Marigold, Rain Lily


• Fruit:  all sub-tropical transplants.



Recipe of the Month

-  Meatballs w/Tomato & Zucchini Medley

 -  Long time favorite recipe of ours that I like to serve over penne or bow-tie pasta.

 Best Advice

Grow Legumes: Legumes (peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas + more) are typically soil nitrogen neutral. In that they will pull from the soil Rhizobium bacteria that the plant will store in its root nodule and provide the bacteria with the nutrients it needs through photosynthesis. In return, the bacteria helps to convert nitrogen from the air into plant available nitrogen for the legume plant. Legumes are high in protein for you, heavy producers, but they also have a plant super power that allows them to actually pull nitrogen gas from the air and convert it into plant available nitrogen, which means less nitrogen fertilization is typically needed for these plants. Peas are good companion plants to grow with heavier feeders like those in the Brassica (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) family.

Most plants use up the nitrogen in the soil, which requires us to continually add nitrogen through fertilization.

Some legumes can be used as a cover crop and when supplied with an appropriate inoculant (rhizobium bacteria) for that type, will produce a nitrogen rich crop that can be cut and mixed into your soil as a "green manure".





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: Why did my garden plants not thrive, plants were stunted, slow growth, not setting fruit?

A: Stunted, weak, or slow growing plants can be an indication of:


Nutrient deficiency - (Lack of nutrient in the soil or inability for the plant to extract the nutrients)

Possible causes include:

○ Lack of soil amendment/fertilization - adequate soil preparation before planting

○ Growing the same family of plant in the same location (no plant rotation), faster depletion of certain nutrients.

○ Over-watering or under-watering

○ Disease or pest problem

○ Salt build-up


Mineral Nutrients function:

Nitrogen (N) - required for leafy green growth

Phosphorus (P) - essential for photosynthesis, encourages blooming, root and cell wall development.

Potassium (K) - promotes disease resistance, root and cell wall structure development.

Calcium (Ca) - Cell division, building plant proteins, flowering, fruiting.

Magnesium (Mg) - Plant strength

Sulfur (S) - Healthy growth

Boron (B) - Plant growth

Copper (Cu) - Plant growth, utilization of iron

Iron (Fe) - Plant growth, chlorophyll and carbohydrate  production

Manganese (Mn) - Growth and plant maturation

Molybdenum (Mo) - Essential for converting nitrates to amino acids, conversion of phosphorus into plant forms

Zinc (Zn) - Fruit development


Make sure you have adequate Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium in the soil before planting and additional application of a synthetic or organic fertilizer may be required during the growing season. Organic fertilizers will have lower concentrations, but are slow to release and thus pose little threat to the plant, but may require more frequent application. Whereas synthetic fertilizers can have 10 times the concentration, these can burn the plant roots if not applied properly.


More info:


Did you know!

Any product certified as organic, is by law, a non- GMO (genetically modified organism) product. There is a lot of controversy and misunderstanding about GMO's and each individual needs to make up their own mind about the use of these products. When it comes to GMO seeds, most small seed companies that sell to the gardener, are not selling GMO seeds. GMO seeds are manufactured for the high volume agriculture business and not the backyard gardener. If the seeds you buy are labeled as organic, then they are non-GMO, but many seeds are sold that are not certified organic, so check out the seed supplier website to determine their policy on selling GMO seeds. For instance Burpee clearly states on their website that they do not sell GMO seeds.


The vast majority of corn, soybean, canola and sugar beet crops grown in the US are genetically engineered. Primary products from GMO seeds are processed foods (cereals, baking mixes, protein bars, chips). Foods using GMO seed produce, have been used for over 15 years. Animal studies suggest that there may be some effects to the immune system, liver and kidneys. Long term human studies have not been performed.


Currently only 1 state (Vermont) in the US requires a GMO label. There are 60 countries that require GMO labeling, but not the US.


Learn more: - list of GM crops - Burpee  non-GMO statement


July Pictures

Link to Photos Here


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