By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Week of July 30, 2007
July was very cool in 2007 we can only hope August will be just
as cool with, perhaps, less rain.
Tomatoes for the autumn need to be planted in August if you hope
to have fruit before cold weather arrives. A few Surefire tomatoes
are on the market again this year. They are my favorite fall tomato
because they produce fruit in 70 days. Other varieties to consider
are Solar Fire, Sun Master, Amelia, 444, and Celebrity. If it
does get hot, spider mites have the potential to ruin your plants.
A weekly spray of neem oil may slow them down. Spinosad is also
labeled for the pests. Both of these organic controls work better
as a preventative than for sprays to eliminate an infestation.
If you carried the spring tomatoes over they would also benefit
with the preventative spray. Tomatoes also need to be well fertilized
if they are going to produce a large crop of fruit. One half cup
of slow release lawn fertilizer like 19-5-9 every four weeks will
do the job.
Most years I do not recommend any mid summer lawn fertilization.
With the rain and heavy growth in June and July nitrogen is likely
to be in short supply. An application of Iron Plus granules or
19-5-9 slow release lawn fertilizer will benefit most lawns. The
toughest lawn task this summer has been mowing. It is best for
your lawn if it is mowed whenever it reaches a height that is
one third taller than its mowing height. If you mow your zoysia
to two inches tall it should be mowed at or before it reaches
three inches. St. Augustine that is mowed to three inches should
be mowed before it reaches 4.3 inches and so forth. The one third
rule causes less stress to the grass plants, reduces shading from
clippings and results in quick decomposition of the clippings.
Slugs, snails and pill bugs are everywhere. Control them with
Slug & Snail Bait. Sprinkle the bait around the edge of flower
and vegetable gardens. If Bermuda grass or St. Augustine are invading
your gardens, apply a contact herbicide that is selective for
grasses. There are lots of brands to choose from including Over
the Top, Vantage, Grass- be-Gone and Fusilade. Spray the offending
grass and within about two weeks it will die without hurting any
other plants. If you are skillful with your sprayer you can kill
the grasses in straight lines on the garden edges.
If you can find some American or African marigolds consider planting
them close together for a mum-like display of gold or yellow.
They are better than garden mums because they bloom longer and
do not need the garden space year around. The planting works best
if the marigolds are planted before bloom begins so they can gain
some size before they bloom. A bed planted on 18 inch centers
will even help reduce nematodes in the garden.
Late in the month, plant wildflower seeds. Remember the wildflowers
need full sun and they need to reach the soil. Vacant lots with
poor soils and sparse weed cover work well, sodded areas do not.
Cosmos seed spread this month in full sun will quickly make a
show of blooms. Sunflowers also like the hot weather.
If you do not have a hummingbird feeder under the eaves or hanging
from the arbor, put one up as soon as possible. Hummingbird action
will be heavy from now until early December. Supplement the sugar
water (four parts water, one part sugar) with a firebush and penta
in containers on the patio.