June signals the start of the summer season. Even though our summers tend to be on the warm side, productive home gardeners still can gather colorful bouquets from the landscape and fresh vegetables from the garden.
The productive landscape and garden will call for early summer care and important and timely gardening chores.
June’s gardening calendar includes the following:
Master Gardener newsletter
The Galveston County Master Gardener newsletter is crammed full of useful information on Gulf Coast gardening ranging from commonly found insect pests in the garden to Master Gardeners listing their favorite landscape and vegetable plants.
After reading a hard copy of the Master Gardener newsletter, local gardeners typically inquire if it is available online.
I am now pleased to report that the newsletter is available online at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston.
Harvest vegetables frequently to ensure continual production.
When not harvested on a frequent enough basis, many vegetables will reduce production of flowers and channel their energy into seed production in the maturing fruit already on plants.
Onions will be ready to harvest after their necks soften and the leaves fall over. Stop watering when that happens.
Pull the bulbs and let them dry in a shady, airy location. Once the tops have dried, clip the roots and tops, leaving about 1 inch above the bulb.
Onions which put up a flower stalk will have a hollow center and will not keep very long, so eat them first.
Transplanting landscape trees
Container-grown or balled-and-burlapped plants can be set out to replace dead plants or to renew the landscape.
As a general rule, fertilizer should not be added to the planting hole when transplanting trees because of the risk of root injury from excessive salts.
However, a light application of fertilizer to the top layer of soil can be beneficial.
Once blackberry plants have completed their current crop, they should be fertilized. The stalks — called fruticanes — that produced this year’s crop soon will die back and should be removed to reduce disease problems.
A new set of green stalks — called primicanes — should be present. These will produce next year’s crop of blackberries.
It is not too late to plant colorful summer annuals during June and early summer, especially if transplants are used.
Plant dependable summer annuals such as vinca, impatiens, salvia and portulaca.
To keep flowering annuals on the grow, remove the faded blooms often, which will induce more branching and more blooms.
Seasonal flowering plants also will profit from an occasional feeding with a light application of a balanced fertilizer.
Most gardenias have completed their flowering display by mid-June. Next year’s flower buds will be formed on this year’s new growth.
Therefore, if you need to prune gardenia bushes for minor shaping, do so now to avoid reducing next spring’s flower display.
Do you like hanging baskets but are concerned about frequency of watering? Then try growing plants in a soil mix that also contains one of the water-holding polymers that are on the market.
You won’t have to water as frequently, and plants tend to perform better because soil moisture levels tend to be more uniform.
Gardening in the heat
Watch out for heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Overexertion, even mowing the lawn in the middle of the day, can cause heavy sweating which removes fluids from the body.
Take frequent breaks, wear a broad-rimmed hat and drink plenty of water. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious conditions which require medical treatment.
Those most susceptible to extreme heat include infants, the elderly, those with chronic illness, overweight and those on certain drugs.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headache, fatigue and nausea. The body temperature stays around normal, the skin feels moist and the face is pale. Breathing can be fast and shallow.
Heatstroke occurs suddenly with the body temperature rising to 104 degrees or higher with a rapid, strong pulse. The skin will feel hot and may be dry.
Dizziness, headache, nausea or confusion and irritability can accompany heatstroke. In the worst-case scenario, victims can become unconscious. So, take care of yourself this summer.
June gardening days also should include taking time to just sit back in your favorite lawn chair on a long summer evening to just enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Dr. William Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, The Texas A&M System. Visit his website at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston.