July and August Garden Checklist

Lazy days of summer? Hardly! There’s lots to do! Lubbock Master Gardeners hope the following outline for the month will keep you busy.

Watch For:

  • Mosquitoes –  Change animal water sources daily to decrease possible mosquito attacks.  Link to the Earth-Wise Guide to Mosquitos here.
  • Spider mites like hot dry weather. They are tiny and may go unnoticed until leaves become discolored or the webbing becomes apparent. Spider mites can be found on vegetables like beans, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes and zucchini as well as annuals like impatiens, geraniums, zinnias.  Since they like hot dry weather, the first line of defense is to spray the undersides of the leaves (where they congregate) with cold water.   The next line is insecticidal soap.  Link to the Earth-Wise Guide to Spider Mites here.
  • Grubs –  eliminate grubs now while they are tiny and can be killed with small amounts of chemical.  Don’t wait until next June when you see giant grubs! Learn more about grubs here.  
  • Powdery mildew on Crepe Myrtles and Roses.  Learn control and prevention measures here. 
  • Aphids  – Keep your eye out for aphids on your veggies,  fruit trees and other woody plants. The hot weather shortens the time needed for eggs to hatch and become reproductive adults.  Use a strong stream of water to knock them off plants or use an insecticidal soap spray.  Link to Earth-Wise Guide to Aphids 
  • Leaf miners – These tiny larvae burrow inside the leaf leaving irregular tunnel tracks on the leaves of its host. The larvae can be from tiny black flies (most usual on vegetables) or from various moths and beetles. Unfortunately external sprays won’t reach these pests. Catch them early and remove infected leaves when possible. There are native wasps that will parasitize them.
  • Whiteflies – can attack many plants but seem to favor squash, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. There are many natural controls already in your garden like ladybugs and parasitic wasps. Use a shop vac and a long extension cord, then shake the leaves and suck up those fast moving sap suckers. You can also control the wingless nymphs with insecticidal soap, horticultural oil (summer oil) or neem oil.
  • Black Spot – Roses may show signs of this fungal disease. First line of defense is keeping water off the leaves and growing plants in areas with good air circulation. Avoid overhead spraying of susceptible plants. Another first line is removing all infected leaves that appear. You can also spray with an appropriate fungicide like Rose 3-in-1 (neem oil) weekly into the fall
  • Turf Grass Pests and Diseases from Texas AgriLife Extension Service – lots of pictures and descriptive information to help you diagnose and treat landscape and turf problems

Prune:

  • Cut grass higher and mow more frequently. Mow frequently to conserve water and to keep grass low and spreading. Use a mulching mower to feed the soil rather than bagging grass and sending it to a landfill.
  • Deadhead old rose blooms.  See U Tube Video about pruning Knock Out Roses below.
  • Prune herbs back. You can cut them back to a foot from the main stem.  Cut to just above a set of growing leaves.
  • Remove dead branches from trees and shrubs.  Continue to prune hedges. Evergreens main growth spurt will be ending this month so this will be the last major prune for the season. Remember to taper shrubs so that the base is slightly wider than the top.
  • Prune summer annuals that have become leggy.  This includes lantanas, zinnias, coleus and firebush.
  • Stake and tie leggy vegetables before they flop over and bend their stems.  Build supports to keep the branches and fruit off the ground.

Fertilize VERY LIGHTLY:

  • Clumps of established landscape plants.  Do not apply fertilizers from August until late fall.  Late summer fertilizing can stimulate an excessive amount of new growth, making plants more susceptible to winter injury.
  • Roses with nitrogen – water thoroughly after pruning and fertilizing.

Plant:

  • Warm season grasses to fill in bare areas. Planting in early August allows enough time for grass to establish roots before cold weather. Water frequently, keeping grass moist, until roots are solidly attached to the soil.
  • Add fall perennials such as mums, fall asters, fall crocus and oxblood lilies as well as fall annual color plants such as zinnias, marigold and cosmos. Keep soil moist until temperatures return to the low 90s.
  • Plant beans, cucumbers and squash in early August. Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch in the area near the planted seeds to maintain moisture and moderate soil temperatures. Keep soil moist, but not soggy, until seeds produce two leaves.
  • If you want to try growing a Halloween pumpkin, plant in early August.
  • Seeds for cold weather vegetable crops such as cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower can be planted — be certain to keep the soil moist through germination. If using transplants for cold season vegetables, wait until September to plant them.

Harvest:

  • Harvest cucumbers, onions, okra, green peppers, squash, early tomatoes, black-eyed peas and okra.  Also flowers!
  • Harvest summer annual herbs, such as basil, and perennial herbs as needed.
  • Save seeds of flowers you like.

General Landscaping:

  • Add organic material to your vegetable garden to replace what has decomposed during the summer heat.
  • Add 2 to 4 inches of mulch to beds, if prior applications have decomposed and left thin or bare spots.
  • Irrigation – Gauge your water usage!  Grasses slow down in high temperatures, so you may be watering plenty, the grass is just resting.
  • Suppress weeds, as they will use precious water and nutrients. Hand pulling cultivating or mulching and combinations of these are the most environmentally sensitive controls.
  • Keep the compost pile turning. Add additional organic matter and turn the compost pile to aerate it and encourage aerobic bacteria to become active.

ITS TOO EARLY TO:

  • plant garlic, onions.
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