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Mid July Dreams

  Jul 20, 2016   Demaree

Half way thru summer! Cooler weather in 6 weeks! Kids back in school! Football!

Yeah, it sounds so near... yet so far. Your garden feels the same way. Many plants are in survival mode for the summer due to reduced watering. Don't try to push trees, shrubs, lawns and flowers with quick acting high nitrogen fertilizers (think Miracle Gro). Why? Nitrogen promotes fast green growth which is great when the weather is cool and a plant is not under stress but summer is different. Rampant fast growth in summer from quick release nitrogen increases a plant's need for water (all that new foliage is thirsty!). New growth is often tender and easily sunburned in +100* temperatures and moderate summer breezes will also dry out 'soft' new foliage( kind of like chapped lips!).

Use a slow release fertilizer. It can be organic with beneficial microbes or inorganic with a mixture of fast, medium & slow nitrogen. Sound confusing? Then go to your local nursery for information on the proper fertilizer (um...maybe Green Hills Nursery?!).

Think Ahead... to Winter?

The best part of living in the San Joaquin Valley is the fresh fruit! Peaches, plums, nectarines and other fruits are available from now til November. Home grown fruit and vegetable gardens are becoming popular as well as practical (If you're going to water anyway, might as well get something out of it). This is the time to taste fresh fruit and find the variety you would want to grow yourself. Before I go any further... No, you can't always get a particular fruit tree or grape now, most nurseries are sold out. They will be available in December-January. Now is the time to call your local nursery and find out if they will be carrying the variety you want or can order it for you this winter. (291-8733 -Green Hills Nursery).

Planting Year Round

Many people believe you can't plant in summer. Not True! Landscapers are busy all summer planting new yards and commercial properties. You just have to go about it in a logical way.

First. Buy plants that have been acclimated to Fresno's climate. Plants brought in from L.A. or the Bay area will 'melt' when they first get here. Nursery stock that's been around a couple of weeks will be acclimated to the heat. Better yet, go to a nursery that grows a lot of their plants (like Green Hills!). These plants have no problem being set out in summer provided they are adequately irrigated.

Second. Planting in the early morning is best for both you and the plants. Don't try to plant everything at once then go back to water them in. Exposing plant roots to hot air and then shoveling hot dry soil around them will shock even the hardiest of species. Mix a slow release organic fertilizer into the soil as you backfill then water plants as you go, better yet, water as you backfill the soil. Organics have beneficial microbes that stimulate and help root growth without burning. Products labeled for 'Transplant Shock' or 'Contains Vitamin B-1' do help but to what extent is unknown. As always, proper planting depth and soil amending are also key to plant growth.

Third. How you water new plantings in summer is very important. Over-watering will cause root rot and death while uneven or lack of water will cause shriveling and death. Watering enough to keep the soil moist (not wet!), this will depend on your soil type. Heavy clay dries slowly and sandy ground won't hold moisture. Loamy soils are good and can be achieved by mixing mulches to existing clay or sandy soils at the time of planting. A good soaking one day followed by a lighter watering the next will keep the moisture level even.

If you're over watering a plant, it will have bright yellow leaves on the interior or lower half and will drop those leaves from the inside out. Irregular or under watering a plant will leave it wilted with the tips dried up.

September..... so near, yet so far......