My favorite time has finally arrived - it's vegetable planting time. Yes during this hot and often wet weather it is time to plant the tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash, cucumbers and much more. Now is the time to plant the crops for fall harvest.
It is probably best to get your soil ready in early August and them around mid month plant the crops in the ground or containers. Your seeds and transplants are going to grow rapidly and produce large plants to bear the fall crops. All you have to do is find a sunny site, keep the soil moist and apply fertilizer lightly every 3 to 4 weeks.
Lawns are also a major concern at this time. Chinch bugs are a common St. Augustine pest, so treatments may be needed. Also if the lawn is a bit yellow you can apply an iron containing fertilizer. Do note that some cities and counties restrict feedings during the summer. So check with your local University of Florida Extension office for the details in your area.
Now is also the time to get ahead of the weeds and over growths. Many plants are out of bound. I don't have to tell you that -- do I? Walkways are being covered and limbs are hitting the homes. Try to get this pruning accomplished during the early morning hours as we have at least two more hot months to go.
- Restart vegetable gardens with crops that yield early fall harvests
- Test soil acidity and adjust the pH if needed before planting.
- Keep tomato, pepper and eggplants on schedule with transplants starting August 15.
- Construct raised beds to ensure good drainage and easy to reach crops.
- Install water saving soaker hoses and micro-sprinklers prior to planting the garden.
- Grow vegetables in large containers if you have limited in ground space.
- Use a quality potting soil for containers and problem areas of the landscape.
- Improve sandy soils with organic matter to prepare them for in ground planting.
- Plant flowers that attract pollinators among the vegetables to obtain better fruit set.
- Remove plastic from solarization treatments after 6 to 8 weeks and plant immediately.
- Mulch new plantings to conserve water and promote better plant growth.
- Shelter container grown herbs from the daily rains.
- Start seeds for early transplants of broccoli, celery and onions by month's end.
- Finish pruning blackberry and blueberry plantings during early August.
- Give grape, apple and peach plantings a summer feeding.
- Feed citrus with one-quarter pound of citrus fertilizer per inch of trunk circumference.
- Chinch bugs are causing yellow to brown spots in St. Augustine lawns; treat as needed.
- Sod webworms are feeding on most grasses; only treat when the caterpillar stage is noted.
- Mushrooms are popping up in many lawns; remove them as needed as many are poisonous.
- Turn off automatic irrigation systems during the rainy season and water only as needed.
- Allowing your lawn to wilt a little between waterings helps deepen the root system.
- Control weeds that are filling bare spots and over growing the good grass.
- Seasonal rains encourage leaf spots and turf decline; control with a fungicide as needed.
- Declining yellow grass may be take-all root rot; try regreening with a liquid fertilizer.
- Fill bare spots in sunny lawns with plugs, sod or seed; delay sodding shady areas til fall.
- Many lawns are ready for a mid summer iron or slow release nitrogen fertilizer application.
- Check for local regulations that may prohibit feeding lawns during the summer.
- Trim grass blades and shrub limbs that might obstruct sprinklers.
- Many plants are growing out of control; now is the time for trimming.
- Give palms a break; only remove the dead fronds and old flower heads.
- Complete pruning of poinsettias, bougainvillea, and wisteria by month's end.
- Edge walkways and drives to keep the landscape attractive.
- Summer rains normally provide adequate moisture for most plants; water only as needed.
- Retrofit irrigation systems to water trees and shrubs separately from lawns.
- Install water conserving micro-sprinklers with all ornamentals.
- Consider adding a rain garden to low, water retaining sites.
- Container gardens make attractive accents to grow in the problem landscape spots.
- Add foliage plants to the shady gardens during the warmer months.
- Avoid trimming sheared plants back to the same height; allow a little new growth to remain.
- Secure garden furniture, hanging plants and ornaments before storms.
- Stake newly planted small trees and shrubs that might be affected by wind.
- Continue to water newly planted trees and shrubs during dry summer days.
- Remove water robbing weeds from the landscape and add mulch or ground covers.
- Learn the good bugs to help reduce pesticide use.
- Keep mulches a foot or more from the home to help control termites.
- Feed crape myrtles and remove seed heads to continue summer blooms.
- Trim vines from trees and shrubs.
- Readjust ties on trunks of trees to allow a little movement.
- Continue tree and shrub plantings with container grown plants.
- Feed palms with a slow release palm fertilizer following label instructions.
- Trim both declining flowers and foliage from perennial beds.
- Pruning time for azaleas, camellias and gardenias is over; plants are forming flower buds.
- Divide bromeliads, Shasta daises, day lilies and other landscape perennials.
- Dig gladiolus bulbs to store in dry peat moss or allow them to remain in the ground.
- Transplant palms and sagos.
- Start poinsettia cuttings in early August.
- Prune hydrangeas after flowering.
- Mealy bugs and scale insects are causing plants to decline; control with insecticidal soaps.
- Trim foliage plants to encourage dense new growth.
- Transplant root bound foliage plants.
- Make cuttings of your favorite plants.
- Feed house plants monthly.
- Feed foliage plants on the patio or porch every other week or use a slow release fertilizer.
- Wash off dust and pests with soapy water.
- Move light starved plants outdoors to a shady location.
- Add new plants to the indoor collection.
- Move orchids and bromeliads outdoors to a shady site when they finish flowering.
Flowers: Angelonia, begonia, black-eyed Susan vine, blue daze, butterfly weed, bush daisy, cat's whiskers, chrysanthemums, coleus, coreopsis, crossandra, fire spike, gaura, heliconia, jacobinia, impatiens, lantana, marigold, melampodium, moon flower, pentas, periwinkle, porter weed, portulaca, purslane, salvia, Stokes aster, sunflower, torenia and zinnia.
Vegetables: Cantaloupe, collard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, lima bean, okra, pepper, pumpkin, snap bean, southern pea, squash, tomato and watermelon
Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, chive, dill, ginger, lemon balm, Mexican tarragon, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram and thyme.
Bulbs type plants: African iris, agapanthus, amaryllis, bulbine, canna, crinum, day lily, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, kaffir lily, Louisiana iris, society garlic, rain lily and walking iris.