Garden Monthly Update: August 2017

Garden News

The beginning of August continued to give us rain about once a week and the temperatures did drop below the 105 mark. So, the melons, cucumbers, and peppers started flowering and setting new fruit. Unfortunately, the last week of August brought back the +105 temps and no substantial rainfall at all for the last 2 weeks of the month. As we entered into the first days of September, the daytime temperature is starting to drop a bit.

The sweet potato vine started taking over the neighborhood and required a little trimming at the end of the month. There were lots of little musk melons, a couple watermelons and cantaloupes harvested in August, along with armenian cucumbers, okra and a few peppers. I continue to harvest basil every other week for drying.

The sunflowers were done by mid-August and I dried the heads and collected the seeds.

I am know allowing the okra to over-mature and will let it dry on the plants in order to collect the seeds that I will package and donate to the UFB (United Food Bank) seed library.

The jicama plants are doing great and hope to see some seed pods soon. I will harvest the roots for eating on 2 plants, then let one go to produce seeds for next year.

The tomato transplants are doing pretty well with 50% shade cover. They continue to grow and hope that some cooler temperatures will arrive soon so they can really start to take hold and begin to set fruit.

The eggplant continued to produce through the month of August and into September.


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


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




The hornworms were few and under control quickly!

Lots of baby lizards and praying mantis spotted around the garden!

More melons and cucumbers!



Higher daytime temperatures at the end of the month.

"Hot" Topic

Transplants - if you start putting transplants into your garden in September, make sure to give them a bit of shade until they are established. The daytime sun/heat is still high and new transplants need more care taken to ensure they can get rooted and remain healthy.

Make sure the transplants that you buy are recommended varieties, healthy and do not have any pests. The leaves and roots should be inspected for any issues. Make sure your soil is prepared and working in a bit of fertilizer into the bottom of the planting hole can give your transplant an extra boost. You can use a synthetic vegetable or multi-purpose fertilizer or any organic fertilizer or combination like worm castings, composted manure, coffee grounds, alfalfa pellets, seaweed or fish emulsion.


See more garden soil preparation:

Tip of the Month

Seed versus transplants -  I use very simple rules when deciding whether to start my vegetable, herb or fruit plants by seed or transplant. If the cost of buying a plant and growing it to maturity is greater than I can purchase that product from the store, then growing from seed is a better option. For example, a head of organic cauliflower will cost about $2, which is the same or cheaper than buying the transplant that will take 2 months to produce 1 head. One cauliflower seed will cost a fraction of a cent and will produce the same head of cauliflower.

For herbs there are a couple considerations, first how easy is it to start from seed and second is it a perennial or annual. There are many perennial herbs that you will be able to grow throughout the year for many years, that may be difficult to start from seed, like oregano, thyme, rosemary or marjoram, so these are worth spending the money on a transplant. But annuals like cilantro and parsley are easy to start from seed, grow quickly and only last the season, so growing from seed makes economic sense.

Many fruits are grafted trees or vines and will provide many years of abundant fruit, so these need to be purchased from a nursery. Melons however are easy to start from seed and can also yield high volumes over a season, so these make sense to start from seed.


Many libraries (Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert) now have seeds for free and there are many groups that do seed exchange events. These are a great way to learn about types that do well in our region and pick up some new varieties to try out.


If you just do not have the patience to start your garden from seed, and cost is not a big consideration, then try buying from local plant sales.


The master gardener fall festival plant sale

When: October 28th from 8:15am to 1pm

Where: Metro Tech High School, 1900 W. Thomas Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85015


Some other groups with plant sale events are:

Mesa Urban Garden

The Urban Farm


More local events:

September Do List

1. Prepare your soil for fall vegetable planting.

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

3. Late summer nitrogen fertilizer application will benefit most plants struggling to have flush growth before slowing down for the winter.

4. Transplant established spring flowering bulbs - iris, daylilies.

5. Remove bad citrus fruit.

6. Refrigerate in a paper bag away from any fruit or vegetables, your tulip and hyacinth bulbs for 6 - 8 weeks.


September Don't List

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

2. Do not over water which increase opportunity for fungal disease and or root rot.

September Planting

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

Seeds - Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collard  Greens, Cucumbers, Endive, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce (Head & Leaf), Leeks, Mustard, Green Onions, Peas, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips

Transplants - Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Lettuce (Head & Leaf)


Note: This is the last month of the year to plant basil and if you want carrots this fall/winter, plant them this month.


Herbs: Basil, Borage, Calendula, Chamomile, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Lavender, Lemon Grass, Rue, Sage, Thyme.


Flowers: Bachelor's buttons, Begonias, Dianthus (Carnation, Sweet William), Gaillardia (blanket flower), Geraniums, Hollyhock, Marigold, Nasturtium, Petunia, Rain Lily, Vinca


Fruit:  Pineapple Guava, Strawberry (T), all sub-tropical transplants.


Recipe of the Month

-   Black Bean Burritos - w/Chipotle Salsa

 -  Loaded with bean protein, this is a quick, tasty and nutritious meal in a tortilla!

 Best Advice

Attract Pollinators: Why are pollinators important? Over 1/3rd of the worlds crop species rely on pollinators for reproduction. Pollination is required for species that have both male and female flowers like squash, cucumbers and melons. Almond production relies on bee pollination as do many other fruit and nut trees. A list of pollinators include bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, flies, moths, and bats.

To attract pollinators, plant a wide variety of plant types that will bloom at different times during the year. There are some flower species like Gaillardia, that will bloom all year round in the low desert. It is best to have 20 different flowering plants from February to October for the best results in attracting pollinators. Avoid using pesticides and allow for some natural nesting spaces and adding a source of water can help attract pollinators.


We can all help by providing food and habitat for our pollinators and in return we will have more productive gardens.


More information:



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 melon vines not produce any fruit?

A: If you have squash, cucumber and melon plants that are growing and thriving, but not setting any fruit, it could be a lack of pollinators causing the problem. See more about attracting pollinators in the Best Advice section. Then plan your garden accordingly to place the plants that require pollination in the best area of your yard or garden. If you are unable to get a good supply of pollinators you can do hand pollination by using a paintbrush and acting like a bee going from male flower to collect the pollen and transferring it to the female flower. Or refer to the hand pollinating publication below for an alternate method.




Did you know!

There are some 4000 bee species in the United States and 1200 that inhabit the Sonoran desert region of Arizona. The honey bee is not native to North America, its origin is in Europe and was brought to Eastern America 400 years ago and was introduced in California around 1850. About 20,000 bee species have been recorded worldwide. Only female bees sting and most bee species have solitary lifestyles. Approximately 70% of bee species nest in the ground. The Sonoran desert is home to the smallest bee, the miner bee, at less than 2 millimeters in length. Latest research has shown native American bees to be better pollinators for native plants and crops than the foreign honey bee. A lot of research has gone into understanding the decline of the managed honeybee population and this has shown several factors contributing to the bees decline including ectoparsistic mite, colony collapse disorder (CCD), pesticide and pathogen exposure. It is reasonable to expect that other bee species can be impacted by these same factors and research has shown native bumble bees to be impacted by fungal and viral pathogens seen in honey bees. Habitat loss is also playing a role in overall bee decline. You can provide a place for bees to feed and nest in your own yard by leaving open areas of dirt and or by providing simple cavity nesting environments for mason and leaf cutter bees to nest. See more about the Arizona effort to research and preserve our native bees in the SonoranDesertBees pdf document.


Learn more:


July Pictures

Link to Photos Here - no new pictures for August


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