July is National “Smart Irrigation Month,” so let’s start with some discussion about watering your landscape and garden.
All plants need more water as temperatures rise. Water is critical in the desert, but don’t let your plants become “drip sip” junkies. Instead of a “sip” or a little bit of water every single day, water less often but for longer time, so the water sinks in two or even three feet into the ground – where roots should be growing.
Encourage your roots to grow deep underground – where it is cooler. Trees need to be encouraged to anchor themselves well, so apply their water well away from the trunk. This also loses less water to evaporation so soils become less salted over time – and besides, you will save money.
When to Water
Water at dawn to conserve water, discourage fungus, and give plants the water they need as they “wake up” for the new day. Plants only need water when they are photosynthesizing in early morning. After about 9 am in summer they generally close down active photosynthesis for most of the day, and just survive the heat.
Plant Nerd Note –
When I say plants “wake up,” I mean C-3 and C-4 photosynthetic plants (plants with leaves). CAM (Crassulean Acid Metabolism) plants (succulents) do things slightly differently.
That Said – no matter the metabolism – watering at dawn is the best time for the health and well being of both plants and your water bill.
General Garden Tasks for July
If you have lawn and mow it – sharpen your mower blades. Sharp blades cut cleanly and the grass heals more quickly and cleanly from the cuts.
Protect container plants from excessive sun, and/or water them often.
Deadhead flowers for extended bloom.
If you wish, apply pre-emergent weed control before summer monsoon rains.
July pruning- none! If you must – prune to remove storm damaged branches. Also if necessary, prune trees to eliminate hazards to humans or structures, but pruning is better done in spring or fall (and rarely – in winter).
July fertilizer – none required. Not the best idea to encourage new growth in this hot month.
Moving something heavy in the garden?
Here’s one way to move things in the garden – on my YouTube channel this week!
Edibles for July
Plant a monsoon garden with native vegetables and herbs like amaranth, short-maturity corn, devil’s claw, epazote, squash and tepary beans.
It is not too late to plant non-native heat-loving vegetables like black-eyed peas, squash, okra, pumpkin, and watermelon.
Mulch your vegetable garden if you haven’t already. Mulch with straw or pine needles to retard evaporation and fertilize the soil.
Harvest sun ripened fruit – Mesquite beans! Plus jujubes, apples, apricots, grapes, melons, peaches — and enjoy. Visit the other site I write for – Savor the Southwest. net – for some harvest and preparation ideas.
Thanks for reading!
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