|Potter wasp - Eumenes bollii|
While July isn't as dry as June, the heat is still coming on strong and hopefully we have some good stuff growing in the garden for refreshment, as discussed below. Giving plants an early morning spray continues to provide heat relief as well as controlling cochineal scale, aphids and spider mites. If you haven't staked your new trees yet, make sure you do before the summer monsoons roll in.
Divide and Conquer
Perennials let you know they need division when flowers are smaller than normal, centers of the clumps that are hollow and dead, or when the bottom foliage is sparse and poor. If you missed the early spring opportunity and can't wait until the fall division opportunity, you may have to divide a clumping perennial. If you must, never do so on a hot, sunny day. Either bring the plant inside or wait for a cloudy day with potential of rain in the forecast.
When feeding, always water first, then apply fertilizers to moist soils, and then continue with the rest of the water. Apply chelated iron to plants with iron deficiency symptoms. Cut back on fertilizing established roses to encourage plants to slow down for the hot summer and stop fertilizing kiwi and grape vines.
Help reduce the potential of fire blight on apple and pear trees by using a low nitrogen fertilizer.
In April, May, June, July, August and September, apply soluble fertilizer OR compost rich top dressing to cacao tree and mamey sapote every six weeks. Apply a soluble fertilizer to cinnamon tree, mango and coffee arabica every six weeks.
May, June, July, August, September apply micronutrients to atemoya and mamey sapote.
In May, June or July rambutans may be ripe. Rambutans are ripe when the rounded part is a bright yellow, orange or red color (depending on variety)and the spikes are still green. When the spikes become black, they are overripe. The best time to prune rambutan is at the time of harvest. Prune rambutan to maintain a relatively short height and 3 or 4 main limbs well spaced. Remove dried branches, water suckers and crossed branches.
May, June, July and August may be the time to harvest blueberries, depending on the variety. May, June, July, August and September may be the time to harvest Sapodilla.
June, July and August check to see if the female kiwi vines have set fruit. once that is accomplished, cut back the male vine to remove flowered wood, prune to shape and remove excessive vigorous growth to ensure open structure.
June, July and August, harvest Black Sapote. Black sapote fruit is mature when the skin becomes dull colored and the calyx flex away from the body of the fruit. Once harvested, it can take 3 to 14 days to become soft enough to eat.
Mangos may bear fruit in May, June, July August and September.
June, July and August mamey sapote may be ripe. Check fruits for ripeness by scratching the scurf (thin potato-like skin) to see if the fruit changed from green to an orange or red color of the fruit.
A new item for this month is prickly pear fruit. We can pick the dark red fruits from the prickly pear pads during July and Augsut with steel tongs. We can continue picking the early-maturing deciduous fruit before the birds get them and bring them in to ripen at room temperature. As your melons come in, continue placing a board beneath them. This will keep them off the moist soil and prevent insects from attacking them. We can harvest basil, blackeye beans, lima beans, pinto beans, yardlong beans, corn, armenian cucumber, eggplant, melons, okra, peppers, pumpkins, summer and winter squash, sunflowers, tomatillos, tomatoes and watermelon. Harvest flowers such as angelica blossoms, apple blossoms, artichoke blossoms, bachelors buttons, banana blossoms, basil blossoms, bee balm, burnet blossoms, calendula, chamomile, chervil, chicory, chive blossoms, chrysanthemum, cilantro or coriander, common mallow, elderberry blossoms, english daisies, fennel, fuchsia, garden sorrel blossoms, garlic blossoms, geraniums, gladiolas, hibiscus, hollyhock, honeysuckle, lavender blossoms, lemon verbena, lilac, linden, marigold, marjoram blossoms, mint blossoms, pea blossoms, peonies, phlox, pineapple guava blossoms, primrose blossoms, queen anne's lace, radish flowers, rose petals, rose petals, safflower, sage blossoms, savory blossoms, scarlet runner bean blossoms, squash blossoms, sunflower, sweet woodruff, thyme blossoms, and zea mays corn shoots.
If you haven't already, apply a shredded bark or other mulch around your potted potager. Another mulching option is to plant compatible companion ground covers around the bottom of the big potted plants for a live mulch that can droop over the edges of the planter to keep the roots cooler and prevent evaporation.
Heat tolerant plants can be planted right through the summer months. They will need to be watered on a regular basis until fall. Transplant sweet potatoes.
June, July and August prune suckers off of fruting trees to encourage a strong main trunk, if desired.
The rule of pruning is to never remove more than 1/4 of the total plant. Always use sharp, sterile, quality pruning tools and disinfect them between cuts to prevent the spread of disease. Rodale has an excellent article on garden tool maintenance. Cut off dead blooms to stimulate new blooms. Summer prune kiwi and grape vines during June and July. Kiwi and grapes rapidly grow during these months and pruning is vital to maintain order. Remove tangles, restrict the vine to it's alloted space and prevent undue competition between the plant shoots. Select and trim back to the shoots you plan to keep for the next season. Do not prune citrus during the summer.
During spring and summer months, combat fire blight through pruning, if necessary.
We can sow basil, fava beans, lima beans, pinto beans, soy beans, yardlong beans, corn, melons, okra, pumpkins, winter and summer squash, tomatillo, tomatoes and watermelons. We can also sow marigold, and sunflowers.
We certainly don't need to warm anything up for the summer months! However, we can use a solar dehydrator to sun dry some of our recent harvests. If you want the DIY, check outoffthegridnews.com.
It is time to shade peppers and tomatoes to reduce possible sunburn. We can use sunscreens around 50% reduction from now through September. Leave corn, squash, melons, blackeyed peas, okra and grapes out in the sun.
In Phoenix, our water bill may go down a bit if we get a decent contribution from the Monsoons. Keep an eye on plants to make sure they aren't getting over watered. Water slowly (drip systems are best) and keep the soil moist. Plants can benefit from an early morning mist (before 9 am) to increase humidity. Look for signs of dehydration, such as wilted leaves in the morning. If you see wilted leaves in the afternoon, it's a sign of heat stress, and you may need to provide some shade.