Summer is the longest season in Texas. When the month of July approaches its end, we know the gardener knows he is midway through the season. This time of the season, the garden needs some attention to keep it going till fall. In this post, I will be sharing important garden chores to maintain your mid-summer texas garden.
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#1 Assess the garden
Assessing the garden is a daily task that does not require much effort or time. Hold your cuppa tea or coffee and stroll around the garden. While enjoying the early morning fresh air and songs of nature, take a closer look at your plants.
Take notes of the crops and varieties that are still in production. They might be your go-to choice for the coming seasons. In my case, I love yard-long beans. For the last four years, they have been the most productive and least problematic crop. Every year, I try a new variety alongside it, and none have outperformed it.
My keepers are yard-long beans, tendergreen cucumbers, okra, Bianca zucchini, Pink Birkley tie-die tomato, Ajvarski, and chocolate pepper.
Summer is the most difficult growing season when it comes to pests. There are all sorts of bugs popping every year. Take a closer look at the plants, mainly the leaves, and look for bug damage. Discoloration, holes, scars on fruits, droppings are signs of different bugs dwelling in the garden.
The most common bugs in the warm season are tomato hornworm, aphids, spider mites, stink bugs, squash vine borer, and mealy bugs. It is worth mentioning that while some insects are always present, their intensity differs each year. Also, sometimes new bugs appear depending on the weather. Take the example of the tomato hornworm. It took ten years of gardening before encountering it in my garden.
Plant diseases are also more prominent in the warm season. However, they mainly depend on the weather conditions and variety’s susceptibility. Things to look for in summer crops to identify diseases are yellow or brown spots, sudden wilting, stem and foliage discolorations, and leaf malformation.
Most summer diseases are fungus-related. The hot and humid weather favors their growth and spread. There are also some viral diseases, but these are mostly related to the plant’s susceptibility. It is important to check with the extension office in your area. They should have a list of common diseases and plants that are prone to them.
This is a good time to assess our watering habits. Make sure there is no water wasted through runoffs and leaks. Inspect drip emitters for clogs or damages. Rodents tend to chew on them, looking for water.
#2 Clean up and Refresh
After assessing the garden, it is time to do some damage control and maintenance.
- Cut all the damaged foliage and dsicard to slow down the spread of pests or diseases.
- Use organic and pollinator-freindly treatments.
- Pick up fallen plant parts and throw them away from the garden. This will eliminate any overwintering of eggs and spores.
- Cut back inderemnate tomatoes by a third to give them a chance to restart.
- Add compost and mulch to reduce evporation and maintain soil moisture longer.
- Trim vining plants to imrove air circulation.
#3 Cut your losses
The most difficult and heartbreaking task for a gardener is getting rid of a plant. After months of care and tending, there is a bond that is hard to break. Unfortunately, there is an end to everything. Most vegetable plants have a short life. A handful survives a full season, and a few are short-lived perennials.
When do you know it is time to remove a plant?
- When the plant slows down production, it is time to start thinking of a replacement.
- Overwhelimg pest or disease damage is a signal that the plant’s immune system is weak and it is time to put it to rest.
- Slow recovery after treatment is another sign of weak immune system. It is not worth the effort to keep pushin the plant. Starting a new one is much more rewarding.
#4 Harvest herbs
Harvesting perennial herbs and stocking my natural medicinal teas cabinet is my favorite summer task and the most satisfying.
- Use clean and sharp scissors or pruners to harvest herbs.
- Harvest in early mornings when the plants are rested from the previous day’s heat and restored their energy.
- Cut back the plant down to the new growth.
- Water it to prevetn stress.
- Before taking the harvest indoors, try to shake it a bit to get the hiding bugs out.
- You can also lay them flat on a tray and leave them for the day in a shady place to allow insects to crawl away.
- Thouroughly wash the herbs in cool water. It is best to submerge them in water. Soil particles and any remaining bugs will sink down.
- Rmove eccess water by shaking, towel drying or by using a spinner.
There are different ways to dry herbs.
- Air drying by hanging them or laying them in a tray. Then placing them in a dark airy place.
- Set the oven to a low setting and place the herbs in a tray. You must keep an eye on them them to prevent over drying.
- You can also use a dehydrator. Follow the direction on the manual.
Once fully dried, store the herbs in an airtight glass jar. Place them in a dark and cool spot for longer shelf life.
#5 Succession plant
What is succession planting?
Succession planting is the practice of planting crops in intervals to maintain a continuous harvest till the end of the season. Remember when we talked about cutting losses? This is the time to plant more of your favorite crops to keep harvesting through fall.
Since this is the second half of the warm season, we know we are coming into our first frost. We all know that the weather is so unpredictable and should plan upon that. One of the best practices is to plant varieties with a short maturity time. This will result in higher chances of harvest in case of an early frost.
What to plant in mid summer?
- Direct sow green beans, basil, cucumbers, squashes, and okra.
- Plant more peppers and eggplants.
- Start tomato seeds for late August planting.
#6 Sart planning for the fall garden
Another gardener’s favorite task is planning for the cool season. During the lull of summer, there is nothing more entertaining and energizing than thinking of a new garden adventure.
a) Take seed inventory
I hope you have a seed storage system. If not, please, check my post on how to store and organize seeds. It is important to have a seed system to stay organized and avoid overordering.
- Take a look at you seed bank and make a list of seeds you need to refill on.
- Check the “Best by” date to plan on using them first.
- Discard any packets or seeds damaged by mold or so.
b) Before going shopping
- List everything you wish to grow and the ones you want to give a try.
- Make a sketch of your garden and find a spot for each crop.
- Set up a budget for the new growing season to avoid overspending.
- Review the list you made and elliminate unnecessary crops. This will help you stay on budget.