We are more than halfway through the summer, so it’s time to clear my desk of gardening tidbits.
It’s been a cool summer so far. The gardens were already two to three weeks behind when we hit June, and July turned out to be very cool by our standards. Fortunately, we had regular rains through May and into June, so plants weren’t drought-stressed. However, the soil was slow to warm up. I heard of several people who replanted their corn and beans at least a couple of times. My corn crop failed and only one of eight lemon cucumber plants survived. It’s still struggling. My tomato plants are short but blooming.
The warmest part of our summer is normally between the middle of July and the middle of August. This is when we get our 90-degree days and above 55-degree nights. Tomatoes, peppers and squash all need temperatures over 55 degrees at night to set fruit. However, for much of July we struggled to get into the high 80s during the day and were hovering around mid-50s and lower at night. If you live in a cold spot, it’s likely your garden was below 55 regularly. That means we may not see bumper crops this year. The bees need access to the flowers to pollinate them so you can’t cover the plants just yet.
We are getting several mid-90s days and 60-degree nights, but by the end of the upcoming weekend it is going to be back into the low 80s and high 70s. I guess we’ll just have to see what Mother Nature is going to throw at us for the rest of the summer.
If you have plantings of milkweed, have you seen any monarch butterfly larvae or chrysalis? The monarch counts on the central California coast where our monarchs winter were terrible last year and with the cooler spring, their migration north seems to have been hampered. Let me know at the email at the bottom of the column.
Now is the perfect time to start some fall plantings of carrots, lettuce, beets and arugula. The warm soil temperatures will get the seed out of the ground fairly quickly, and the cooler weather won’t fry the tender shoots.
The lettuce and arugula should be ready to harvest by early to mid-September, and the beets and carrots will follow in October. The carrots and the beets will be much sweeter after a light frost or two. The carrots can be mulched with shredded pine needles or straw and harvested into the winter. The leaf miners will be gone by September so the leaves won’t be chewed to pieces if you like beet greens.
If you have deer, now is a good time to reapply your deer repellents. The wildlands have pretty much dried up and gone dormant, so they are gravitating into our garden salad bowls for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Apply it every three weeks until frost.
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