Summer is Heating Up the Garden ☀️
It’s July so Happy Half-Birthday 2019! Can you believe the year is halfway over? It finally feels like summer in San Diego! We are feeling the heat and have officially switched over into warm-weather-mode in our yard and garden care.
- Paying a little more attention to soil moisture ?
- Sun-Loving Blooms ??
- Increased Bug Activity???
Here in Southern California, the native and locally-flourishing plants are pretty drought-hardy. Good landscapers, like EcoGardeners, try to use plants and grasses appropriate for a dry climate – so no need to over do it with the automatic sprinkler system.
Healthy Watering Schedule for Rain-Free Weeks
Many of us plant lovers think ? = ? for our lawns, but a balanced watering rule-of-thumb for a happy yard is to give it about 1 inch per week we are without rain.
Here in San Diego, we are quite familiar with water conservation efforts. After staying in a steady state of drought for 376 weeks (!!) from 2011 – 2019.
This winter brought an unusual amount of rain, ending the drought. Hooray! And early summer remained cool and overcast well into late June, but we still want to practice conservation going into the hot months.
As we head into the second half of the year, the temp has finally cranked up to summer-levels. This means more weeks where we have bright, clear, blue skies and not a drop of rain.
Soil & Mulch
Mulching your garden will go a long way toward helping it retain its moisture in the drying heat of the midday sun and help reduce your water usage (make sure to water before mulching, or you won’t retain much!).
A 2-4” layer of mulch in your flower beds can reduce crusting, cracking, and evaporation by up to 70%. Tree trunks and plant stems need to be able to circulate fresh air, so stop the mulch a few inches back from these systems.
The soil in San Diego is diverse, and depending on your location, can be sandy, loamy, clay, or an infinite combination of these elements. Loam soil is the best, but many of us have a clay or hard-packed dry sand or silt devoid of nutrients.
Flower & Veggie Garden Prep
To prepare a garden for planting, turn the soil about 1 foot down, working the soil when it is moist (not soaked). Then, organic fertilizers and compost can be mixed into the soil prior to planting. The mix will improve drainage and nutrient/water retention. If planting in containers, use an organic potting soil and a starter food.
“Warm Season plants tend to be much larger and enjoy temperatures of 65-90 degrees. These plants must have 6 or more hours of sunlight to be healthy. This is why they grow in the longer summer months.”
Sun-Loving Blooms: Daylilies, vinca, coneflowers, gaillardia, cosmos, salvias, geraniums, marigolds, asclepia
Warm weather veggies: Snap beans, tomatoes, sweet corn, and sweet potato. eggplant, pepper, cucumber, watermelon, muskmelon, lima beans, squash, and pumpkins
What is a sign of healthy soil?
Warm Weather = Bugs
We know that mosquitoes and flies are annoying, but some bugs are good! This is a sign that your yard and soil is healthy. So fight the urge to spray toxic pesticides that kill everything off.
Bigger bugs are a sign that there is enough of the tiny bugs for them to eat, and those tiny bugs are also doing great things for your soil. Tiger and the guys talk about Beneficial Bugs in depth on the Garden America Podcast if you want to nerd-out on the topic!
What type of bugs might be considered good? Well, ladybugs, butterflies, earthworms, and bees for starters.
Earthworms improve soil fertility and ladybugs are the natural, pesticide-free solution to your aphid problem. Butterflies and bees are our helpful (and pretty) pollinators.
How do I attract more good bugs?
How can you deal with the harmful bugs, like slugs, without destroying the yard balance with harmful chemicals that kill our tiny friends?
First, plant things they love. One of our favorites is Asclepia
How do I get rid of harmful bugs like aphids and slugs?
Ecogardeners has lots of amazing solutions to these problems! Here are some of the easiest to implement:
As we mention above, a great option is to combat bad bugs with good bugs.
Beneficial bugs like nematodes and predatory slugs will thin out the population of snails eating your plants naturally, while ladybugs eat aphids, mites, and flies! By letting your grass grow a little longer and leaving the clippings in the yard after mowing as a mulch you can encourage your natural ladybug presence.
The local wildlife can be a big help as well, by providing water, shade, and perches, you encourage birds and frogs to make your yard and garden their home – both animal find snails and slugs delicious. ?
Another great natural solution for reducing the population of all crawling bugs, without harming our helpful earthworm buddies, is diatomaceous earth .
It works by causing abrasion to the body of the insect, resulting in dehydration. Most importantly, it is digestible by earthworms, causing them no harm!
We carry Natural Guard Crawling Insect Control options
Slugs generally don’t like any abrasive surface, so chalk up another point for laying down mulch or even sections of rock.