It’s officially summer – and we’ve had enough brutally hot weather to prove it. Although recent triple-digit temperatures have made afternoons feel like we’re well into August, the heat is only beginning.
How can you help your garden keep its cool? Add a layer of mulch, preferably bark, straw, shredded leaves or other organic material. Avoid rocks or gravel as mulch; they retain heat and cook roots.
Nutrient-rich mulch retains moisture, cools roots and cuts down on weeds that may rob your plants of water. It also acts as a very slow-release fertilizer. That makes mulch a win-win-win-win addition to your summer garden.
Apply mulch 2 to 3 inches thick around trees, shrubs and vegetable plants. Keep mulch at least 4 to 6 inches away from trunks or main stems to avoid crown rot.
▪ Some vegetables can still be planted now, including corn, lima beans, cucumbers, okra, parsnips, pumpkins, squash and watermelon. Make sure your seedlings stay hydrated. Seed for giant Halloween pumpkins should be planted in late June or early July.
▪ In the flower garden, it’s time to plant seeds for alyssum, celosia, marigold, periwinkle, sunflower and zinnias.
▪ Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to promote a second bloom in fall.
▪ Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Make sure to water well before fertilizing.
▪ Pinch back mums for more blooms this fall.